- - -
ghana

Stories

Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

Humanitarian response team, Fiji.
Story

In pictures: Humanitarian photographers share their experiences of storytelling in the field

IPPF’s localized approach to humanitarian emergencies is led by our Member Associations' response teams and whenever possible, we deploy local photographers.
Muna receiving her implant
story

| 15 February 2019

"I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years”

In August 2017, weeks of continued and heavy rainfall across Nepal resulted in flash floods and landslides that affected 36 of the 75 districts. Many people lost their homes or were displaced. It was estimated that of those affected, 112,500 were women of reproductive age, including 8,694 pregnant women.  IPPF Humanitarian, through their Member Association, The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), activated its emergency response system early on. With funding support from the Australian Government, FPAN and IPPF Humanitarian initially mobilised their response in four of the worst affected districts (Sunsari, Saptari, Bardiya, and Dang). Mobile medical camps were established to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population, including through the distribution of short and long acting methods of contraception, STI and HIV screening, and GBV referrals. In collaboration with the USAID-SIFPO project, services were then expanded into five more affected districts. IPPF Humanitarian spoke with 21-year old Muna in her home district of Sunsari in Nepal.  “I got married at 16 years old and have two children, a four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.  In my caste, we get married early, so my parents took me to get an arranged marriage. I was in the 8th class at the time, and returned to school after I got married, but only lasted one year.  My husband works in construction and had to stop working for two weeks when the floods came. When he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid, so it’s been very difficult.  A FPAN social worker told me about the mobile medical camp today. I used to be on the three-month injectable but today I changed to the five-year implant in my arm.  When my youngest child was eight months old I found out I was pregnant again. I decided to discontinue that pregnancy, so I took the five small tablets given to me by my neighbourhood doctor. I was two months pregnant at the time.  From this, I had two days bleeding and cramp like pain, and then weakness. I decided to abort that pregnancy because my youngest will still only eight months old, and I didn’t want any more children.  If I had more than two children, it would be very difficult to feed and educate them, and would badly affect my body too. I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years.” Want to know more about safe abortion access? Join IPPF'S I Decide movement

Muna receiving her implant
story

| 24 May 2022

"I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years”

In August 2017, weeks of continued and heavy rainfall across Nepal resulted in flash floods and landslides that affected 36 of the 75 districts. Many people lost their homes or were displaced. It was estimated that of those affected, 112,500 were women of reproductive age, including 8,694 pregnant women.  IPPF Humanitarian, through their Member Association, The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), activated its emergency response system early on. With funding support from the Australian Government, FPAN and IPPF Humanitarian initially mobilised their response in four of the worst affected districts (Sunsari, Saptari, Bardiya, and Dang). Mobile medical camps were established to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population, including through the distribution of short and long acting methods of contraception, STI and HIV screening, and GBV referrals. In collaboration with the USAID-SIFPO project, services were then expanded into five more affected districts. IPPF Humanitarian spoke with 21-year old Muna in her home district of Sunsari in Nepal.  “I got married at 16 years old and have two children, a four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.  In my caste, we get married early, so my parents took me to get an arranged marriage. I was in the 8th class at the time, and returned to school after I got married, but only lasted one year.  My husband works in construction and had to stop working for two weeks when the floods came. When he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid, so it’s been very difficult.  A FPAN social worker told me about the mobile medical camp today. I used to be on the three-month injectable but today I changed to the five-year implant in my arm.  When my youngest child was eight months old I found out I was pregnant again. I decided to discontinue that pregnancy, so I took the five small tablets given to me by my neighbourhood doctor. I was two months pregnant at the time.  From this, I had two days bleeding and cramp like pain, and then weakness. I decided to abort that pregnancy because my youngest will still only eight months old, and I didn’t want any more children.  If I had more than two children, it would be very difficult to feed and educate them, and would badly affect my body too. I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years.” Want to know more about safe abortion access? Join IPPF'S I Decide movement

Peer educator and youth award winner Mala Neupane. Tansen, Palpa.
story

| 21 August 2017

How youth volunteers are leading the conversation on HIV with young people in Nepal

Mala Neupane is just 18 years old, but is already an experienced volunteer for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN). Mala lives in Tansen, the hillside capital of Palpa, a region of rolling hills, pine forests and lush terraced fields in western Nepal. She works as a community home-based care mobiliser focusing on HIV: her job involves travelling to villages around Tansen to provide people with information about HIV and contraception. “Before, the community had very little knowledge regarding HIV and there used to be so much stigma and discrimination,” she says. “But later, when the Community Health Based Carers (CHBCs) started working in those communities, they had more knowledge and less stigma.” The youth of the volunteers proved an effective tool during their conversations with villagers. “At first, when they talked to people about family planning, they were not receptive: they felt resistance to using those devices,” Mala explains. “The CHBCs said to them: ‘young people like us are doing this kind of work, so why are you feeling such hesitation?’ After talking with them, they became ready to use contraceptives.” Her age is also important for connecting with young people, in a society of rapid change, she says. “Because we are young, we may know more about what young people’s needs and wants are. We can talk to young people about what family planning methods might be suitable for them, and what the options are.” “Young people’s involvement [in FPAN programmes] is very important to helping out young people like us.” It’s a simple message, but one reaping rich rewards for the lives and wellbeing of people in Palpa.

Peer educator and youth award winner Mala Neupane. Tansen, Palpa.
story

| 24 May 2022

How youth volunteers are leading the conversation on HIV with young people in Nepal

Mala Neupane is just 18 years old, but is already an experienced volunteer for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN). Mala lives in Tansen, the hillside capital of Palpa, a region of rolling hills, pine forests and lush terraced fields in western Nepal. She works as a community home-based care mobiliser focusing on HIV: her job involves travelling to villages around Tansen to provide people with information about HIV and contraception. “Before, the community had very little knowledge regarding HIV and there used to be so much stigma and discrimination,” she says. “But later, when the Community Health Based Carers (CHBCs) started working in those communities, they had more knowledge and less stigma.” The youth of the volunteers proved an effective tool during their conversations with villagers. “At first, when they talked to people about family planning, they were not receptive: they felt resistance to using those devices,” Mala explains. “The CHBCs said to them: ‘young people like us are doing this kind of work, so why are you feeling such hesitation?’ After talking with them, they became ready to use contraceptives.” Her age is also important for connecting with young people, in a society of rapid change, she says. “Because we are young, we may know more about what young people’s needs and wants are. We can talk to young people about what family planning methods might be suitable for them, and what the options are.” “Young people’s involvement [in FPAN programmes] is very important to helping out young people like us.” It’s a simple message, but one reaping rich rewards for the lives and wellbeing of people in Palpa.

Sajana Kergi, 23 years old, youth volunteer and peer sex educator.
story

| 01 August 2017

"Girls in rural areas often face more problems than girls in the city"

“Girls in rural areas often face more problems than girls in the city,” says 23-year-old Sajana Kergi. “For example, when they’re menstruating they might have to stay at home and not touch any kitchen materials, or have to drop school.  “It varies from family to family, but generally the more traditional and superstitious a family is, the more problems a girl will have.”  For the past two years, Sajana has been volunteering as a peer educator and mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), since hearing about the programme on Facebook. After an orientation and training programme, she visited different rural schools to give girls training on menstruation management. She now runs classes in schools in and around Bhaktapur. The classes aim to create a relaxed environment for young people to talk and learn about sexual health and rights. This fills a major gap in their learning and knowledge, Sajana says. “At school, these subjects are in the curriculum, but teachers skip these lessons and don’t talk about these issues openly,” she explains. “The teachers don’t create a comfortable environment, and this makes students hesitant to talk about these issues, so there’s no proper knowledge.” FPAN classes are an opportunity for young people to speak openly about sexual health and sexuality therefore are vital. 

Sajana Kergi, 23 years old, youth volunteer and peer sex educator.
story

| 24 May 2022

"Girls in rural areas often face more problems than girls in the city"

“Girls in rural areas often face more problems than girls in the city,” says 23-year-old Sajana Kergi. “For example, when they’re menstruating they might have to stay at home and not touch any kitchen materials, or have to drop school.  “It varies from family to family, but generally the more traditional and superstitious a family is, the more problems a girl will have.”  For the past two years, Sajana has been volunteering as a peer educator and mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), since hearing about the programme on Facebook. After an orientation and training programme, she visited different rural schools to give girls training on menstruation management. She now runs classes in schools in and around Bhaktapur. The classes aim to create a relaxed environment for young people to talk and learn about sexual health and rights. This fills a major gap in their learning and knowledge, Sajana says. “At school, these subjects are in the curriculum, but teachers skip these lessons and don’t talk about these issues openly,” she explains. “The teachers don’t create a comfortable environment, and this makes students hesitant to talk about these issues, so there’s no proper knowledge.” FPAN classes are an opportunity for young people to speak openly about sexual health and sexuality therefore are vital. 

Sharad Kumar Argal, FPAN Kathmandu Valley branch manager
story

| 01 August 2017

How Family Planning Association of Nepal Youth programmes are saving teens on the brink of suicide

“One time, a sixteen-year-old girl came to see us with an unwanted pregnancy, on the point of suicide,” says Sharad Kumar Argal. “She had been abused by her family and the baby was the result of incest. She was about to commit suicide.”   The girl had never heard of safe abortion, explains Sharad, who works as Kathmandu Valley branch manager for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), the country’s leading family planning NGO.  “Then, very luckily, she happened to come to our youth-friendly centre. From there, she found out about abortion services and she had an abortion through FPAN. FPAN brought her back from the brink of suicide.”  For Sharad, FPAN’s youth programmes are the lifeblood of the organisation. In his twenty years at the organisation, he has seen major changes in family planning law and sexual rights in Nepal, from the legalisation of abortion in 2002, to the introduction of National Family Planning Day in 2014.  One of the changes that he talks passionately about is FPAN’s work supporting young people, and the role of youth volunteers in these activities.  “If you go back 20 years, even talking to people about family planning and especially condoms was very difficult,” he says. “People were hesitant and didn’t want to hear about that in a public space. That made family planning very difficult: we needed to do home to home visits to make family planning available.” “But now, with the passage of time, this has become much better and easier. These days even our youth peer educators are involved in distributing condoms and pills.” The data underlines this change. “The use of family planning 20 years’ ago was only 20-25 per cent,” Sharad says. “Whereas now, more than 50 per cent have access to family planning services.” 

Sharad Kumar Argal, FPAN Kathmandu Valley branch manager
story

| 24 May 2022

How Family Planning Association of Nepal Youth programmes are saving teens on the brink of suicide

“One time, a sixteen-year-old girl came to see us with an unwanted pregnancy, on the point of suicide,” says Sharad Kumar Argal. “She had been abused by her family and the baby was the result of incest. She was about to commit suicide.”   The girl had never heard of safe abortion, explains Sharad, who works as Kathmandu Valley branch manager for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), the country’s leading family planning NGO.  “Then, very luckily, she happened to come to our youth-friendly centre. From there, she found out about abortion services and she had an abortion through FPAN. FPAN brought her back from the brink of suicide.”  For Sharad, FPAN’s youth programmes are the lifeblood of the organisation. In his twenty years at the organisation, he has seen major changes in family planning law and sexual rights in Nepal, from the legalisation of abortion in 2002, to the introduction of National Family Planning Day in 2014.  One of the changes that he talks passionately about is FPAN’s work supporting young people, and the role of youth volunteers in these activities.  “If you go back 20 years, even talking to people about family planning and especially condoms was very difficult,” he says. “People were hesitant and didn’t want to hear about that in a public space. That made family planning very difficult: we needed to do home to home visits to make family planning available.” “But now, with the passage of time, this has become much better and easier. These days even our youth peer educators are involved in distributing condoms and pills.” The data underlines this change. “The use of family planning 20 years’ ago was only 20-25 per cent,” Sharad says. “Whereas now, more than 50 per cent have access to family planning services.” 

Young nepalese female farmer, IPPF, FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Reproductive health for Nepalese female farmers after the earthquake

Two years after the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, the village of Gatlang in the country’s mountainous north still lies in partial ruin. The houses here are built from enormous slabs of local stone, carved windows and doors, and roofs of stacked wooden planks. They face east towards the rising sun, their facades bedecked in intricate wooden carvings patterns linked to the ancient Buddhist culture of the Tamang people. Today, most of these houses lie in ruin, emptying the heart of the village of people, with most moving to temporary shacks on Gatlang’s fringes. Kopila Tamang is a 24-year-old farmer and mother to two young boys. Her husband, Nakul, works as a lorry driver and is often away. “When the earthquake struck, I was working in the fields,” she says. “If I had been at home, I would have died.” Kopila’s house – or what remains of it – lies at the centre of old Gatlang, on a street of traditional houses that have either entirely collapsed or are uninhabitable due to cracks and structural damage. Piles of stone and wooden cross beams are strewn in what was once a thriving village street. Like many families here, Kopila and her husband and boys have moved into a small shack built from corrugated iron and plastic. This was meant to be a temporary solution, but two years later, they are still living in it, unable to afford the enormous cost of rebuilding their old home. “It needs lots of money,” she says. “I don’t know when we will have the money to build this home again.” FPAN provided emergency health support to families like Kopila’s in the weeks and months after the earthquake. Mobile health camps offered medicines, health check ups, dignity kits, family planning, antenatal checks and other vital services.  These days, Kopila gets regular advice from Pasang Tamang, the FPAN reproductive health female volunteer in the village. Kopila had suffered after the birth of her last child. “I didn’t menstruate for eight months, and then after that I started using the [contraceptive] injection,” she says. “But there were some side effects: I started menstruating twice a month.” She then went to a mobile health camp run by FPAN and started using the intrauterine coil. “After that, my menstruation went back to normal,” she says. In a village scarred by the earthquake, access to family planning has brought some much needed stability and relief to Kopila and her small family. “FPAN provide different services and knowledge: I have come to know that having more children can bring suffering, because it’s not enough to just feed children, they must be educated too” she says. “A small family is a happy family.”

Young nepalese female farmer, IPPF, FPAN
story

| 24 May 2022

Reproductive health for Nepalese female farmers after the earthquake

Two years after the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, the village of Gatlang in the country’s mountainous north still lies in partial ruin. The houses here are built from enormous slabs of local stone, carved windows and doors, and roofs of stacked wooden planks. They face east towards the rising sun, their facades bedecked in intricate wooden carvings patterns linked to the ancient Buddhist culture of the Tamang people. Today, most of these houses lie in ruin, emptying the heart of the village of people, with most moving to temporary shacks on Gatlang’s fringes. Kopila Tamang is a 24-year-old farmer and mother to two young boys. Her husband, Nakul, works as a lorry driver and is often away. “When the earthquake struck, I was working in the fields,” she says. “If I had been at home, I would have died.” Kopila’s house – or what remains of it – lies at the centre of old Gatlang, on a street of traditional houses that have either entirely collapsed or are uninhabitable due to cracks and structural damage. Piles of stone and wooden cross beams are strewn in what was once a thriving village street. Like many families here, Kopila and her husband and boys have moved into a small shack built from corrugated iron and plastic. This was meant to be a temporary solution, but two years later, they are still living in it, unable to afford the enormous cost of rebuilding their old home. “It needs lots of money,” she says. “I don’t know when we will have the money to build this home again.” FPAN provided emergency health support to families like Kopila’s in the weeks and months after the earthquake. Mobile health camps offered medicines, health check ups, dignity kits, family planning, antenatal checks and other vital services.  These days, Kopila gets regular advice from Pasang Tamang, the FPAN reproductive health female volunteer in the village. Kopila had suffered after the birth of her last child. “I didn’t menstruate for eight months, and then after that I started using the [contraceptive] injection,” she says. “But there were some side effects: I started menstruating twice a month.” She then went to a mobile health camp run by FPAN and started using the intrauterine coil. “After that, my menstruation went back to normal,” she says. In a village scarred by the earthquake, access to family planning has brought some much needed stability and relief to Kopila and her small family. “FPAN provide different services and knowledge: I have come to know that having more children can bring suffering, because it’s not enough to just feed children, they must be educated too” she says. “A small family is a happy family.”

Portrait of Binu
story

| 05 July 2017

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Portrait of Binu
story

| 24 May 2022

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Muna receiving her implant
story

| 15 February 2019

"I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years”

In August 2017, weeks of continued and heavy rainfall across Nepal resulted in flash floods and landslides that affected 36 of the 75 districts. Many people lost their homes or were displaced. It was estimated that of those affected, 112,500 were women of reproductive age, including 8,694 pregnant women.  IPPF Humanitarian, through their Member Association, The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), activated its emergency response system early on. With funding support from the Australian Government, FPAN and IPPF Humanitarian initially mobilised their response in four of the worst affected districts (Sunsari, Saptari, Bardiya, and Dang). Mobile medical camps were established to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population, including through the distribution of short and long acting methods of contraception, STI and HIV screening, and GBV referrals. In collaboration with the USAID-SIFPO project, services were then expanded into five more affected districts. IPPF Humanitarian spoke with 21-year old Muna in her home district of Sunsari in Nepal.  “I got married at 16 years old and have two children, a four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.  In my caste, we get married early, so my parents took me to get an arranged marriage. I was in the 8th class at the time, and returned to school after I got married, but only lasted one year.  My husband works in construction and had to stop working for two weeks when the floods came. When he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid, so it’s been very difficult.  A FPAN social worker told me about the mobile medical camp today. I used to be on the three-month injectable but today I changed to the five-year implant in my arm.  When my youngest child was eight months old I found out I was pregnant again. I decided to discontinue that pregnancy, so I took the five small tablets given to me by my neighbourhood doctor. I was two months pregnant at the time.  From this, I had two days bleeding and cramp like pain, and then weakness. I decided to abort that pregnancy because my youngest will still only eight months old, and I didn’t want any more children.  If I had more than two children, it would be very difficult to feed and educate them, and would badly affect my body too. I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years.” Want to know more about safe abortion access? Join IPPF'S I Decide movement

Muna receiving her implant
story

| 24 May 2022

"I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years”

In August 2017, weeks of continued and heavy rainfall across Nepal resulted in flash floods and landslides that affected 36 of the 75 districts. Many people lost their homes or were displaced. It was estimated that of those affected, 112,500 were women of reproductive age, including 8,694 pregnant women.  IPPF Humanitarian, through their Member Association, The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), activated its emergency response system early on. With funding support from the Australian Government, FPAN and IPPF Humanitarian initially mobilised their response in four of the worst affected districts (Sunsari, Saptari, Bardiya, and Dang). Mobile medical camps were established to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of the affected population, including through the distribution of short and long acting methods of contraception, STI and HIV screening, and GBV referrals. In collaboration with the USAID-SIFPO project, services were then expanded into five more affected districts. IPPF Humanitarian spoke with 21-year old Muna in her home district of Sunsari in Nepal.  “I got married at 16 years old and have two children, a four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.  In my caste, we get married early, so my parents took me to get an arranged marriage. I was in the 8th class at the time, and returned to school after I got married, but only lasted one year.  My husband works in construction and had to stop working for two weeks when the floods came. When he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid, so it’s been very difficult.  A FPAN social worker told me about the mobile medical camp today. I used to be on the three-month injectable but today I changed to the five-year implant in my arm.  When my youngest child was eight months old I found out I was pregnant again. I decided to discontinue that pregnancy, so I took the five small tablets given to me by my neighbourhood doctor. I was two months pregnant at the time.  From this, I had two days bleeding and cramp like pain, and then weakness. I decided to abort that pregnancy because my youngest will still only eight months old, and I didn’t want any more children.  If I had more than two children, it would be very difficult to feed and educate them, and would badly affect my body too. I’m so happy I now don’t have to worry about contraception for another five years.” Want to know more about safe abortion access? Join IPPF'S I Decide movement

Peer educator and youth award winner Mala Neupane. Tansen, Palpa.
story

| 21 August 2017

How youth volunteers are leading the conversation on HIV with young people in Nepal

Mala Neupane is just 18 years old, but is already an experienced volunteer for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN). Mala lives in Tansen, the hillside capital of Palpa, a region of rolling hills, pine forests and lush terraced fields in western Nepal. She works as a community home-based care mobiliser focusing on HIV: her job involves travelling to villages around Tansen to provide people with information about HIV and contraception. “Before, the community had very little knowledge regarding HIV and there used to be so much stigma and discrimination,” she says. “But later, when the Community Health Based Carers (CHBCs) started working in those communities, they had more knowledge and less stigma.” The youth of the volunteers proved an effective tool during their conversations with villagers. “At first, when they talked to people about family planning, they were not receptive: they felt resistance to using those devices,” Mala explains. “The CHBCs said to them: ‘young people like us are doing this kind of work, so why are you feeling such hesitation?’ After talking with them, they became ready to use contraceptives.” Her age is also important for connecting with young people, in a society of rapid change, she says. “Because we are young, we may know more about what young people’s needs and wants are. We can talk to young people about what family planning methods might be suitable for them, and what the options are.” “Young people’s involvement [in FPAN programmes] is very important to helping out young people like us.” It’s a simple message, but one reaping rich rewards for the lives and wellbeing of people in Palpa.

Peer educator and youth award winner Mala Neupane. Tansen, Palpa.
story

| 24 May 2022

How youth volunteers are leading the conversation on HIV with young people in Nepal

Mala Neupane is just 18 years old, but is already an experienced volunteer for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN). Mala lives in Tansen, the hillside capital of Palpa, a region of rolling hills, pine forests and lush terraced fields in western Nepal. She works as a community home-based care mobiliser focusing on HIV: her job involves travelling to villages around Tansen to provide people with information about HIV and contraception. “Before, the community had very little knowledge regarding HIV and there used to be so much stigma and discrimination,” she says. “But later, when the Community Health Based Carers (CHBCs) started working in those communities, they had more knowledge and less stigma.” The youth of the volunteers proved an effective tool during their conversations with villagers. “At first, when they talked to people about family planning, they were not receptive: they felt resistance to using those devices,” Mala explains. “The CHBCs said to them: ‘young people like us are doing this kind of work, so why are you feeling such hesitation?’ After talking with them, they became ready to use contraceptives.” Her age is also important for connecting with young people, in a society of rapid change, she says. “Because we are young, we may know more about what young people’s needs and wants are. We can talk to young people about what family planning methods might be suitable for them, and what the options are.” “Young people’s involvement [in FPAN programmes] is very important to helping out young people like us.” It’s a simple message, but one reaping rich rewards for the lives and wellbeing of people in Palpa.

Sajana Kergi, 23 years old, youth volunteer and peer sex educator.
story

| 01 August 2017

"Girls in rural areas often face more problems than girls in the city"

“Girls in rural areas often face more problems than girls in the city,” says 23-year-old Sajana Kergi. “For example, when they’re menstruating they might have to stay at home and not touch any kitchen materials, or have to drop school.  “It varies from family to family, but generally the more traditional and superstitious a family is, the more problems a girl will have.”  For the past two years, Sajana has been volunteering as a peer educator and mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), since hearing about the programme on Facebook. After an orientation and training programme, she visited different rural schools to give girls training on menstruation management. She now runs classes in schools in and around Bhaktapur. The classes aim to create a relaxed environment for young people to talk and learn about sexual health and rights. This fills a major gap in their learning and knowledge, Sajana says. “At school, these subjects are in the curriculum, but teachers skip these lessons and don’t talk about these issues openly,” she explains. “The teachers don’t create a comfortable environment, and this makes students hesitant to talk about these issues, so there’s no proper knowledge.” FPAN classes are an opportunity for young people to speak openly about sexual health and sexuality therefore are vital. 

Sajana Kergi, 23 years old, youth volunteer and peer sex educator.
story

| 24 May 2022

"Girls in rural areas often face more problems than girls in the city"

“Girls in rural areas often face more problems than girls in the city,” says 23-year-old Sajana Kergi. “For example, when they’re menstruating they might have to stay at home and not touch any kitchen materials, or have to drop school.  “It varies from family to family, but generally the more traditional and superstitious a family is, the more problems a girl will have.”  For the past two years, Sajana has been volunteering as a peer educator and mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), since hearing about the programme on Facebook. After an orientation and training programme, she visited different rural schools to give girls training on menstruation management. She now runs classes in schools in and around Bhaktapur. The classes aim to create a relaxed environment for young people to talk and learn about sexual health and rights. This fills a major gap in their learning and knowledge, Sajana says. “At school, these subjects are in the curriculum, but teachers skip these lessons and don’t talk about these issues openly,” she explains. “The teachers don’t create a comfortable environment, and this makes students hesitant to talk about these issues, so there’s no proper knowledge.” FPAN classes are an opportunity for young people to speak openly about sexual health and sexuality therefore are vital. 

Sharad Kumar Argal, FPAN Kathmandu Valley branch manager
story

| 01 August 2017

How Family Planning Association of Nepal Youth programmes are saving teens on the brink of suicide

“One time, a sixteen-year-old girl came to see us with an unwanted pregnancy, on the point of suicide,” says Sharad Kumar Argal. “She had been abused by her family and the baby was the result of incest. She was about to commit suicide.”   The girl had never heard of safe abortion, explains Sharad, who works as Kathmandu Valley branch manager for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), the country’s leading family planning NGO.  “Then, very luckily, she happened to come to our youth-friendly centre. From there, she found out about abortion services and she had an abortion through FPAN. FPAN brought her back from the brink of suicide.”  For Sharad, FPAN’s youth programmes are the lifeblood of the organisation. In his twenty years at the organisation, he has seen major changes in family planning law and sexual rights in Nepal, from the legalisation of abortion in 2002, to the introduction of National Family Planning Day in 2014.  One of the changes that he talks passionately about is FPAN’s work supporting young people, and the role of youth volunteers in these activities.  “If you go back 20 years, even talking to people about family planning and especially condoms was very difficult,” he says. “People were hesitant and didn’t want to hear about that in a public space. That made family planning very difficult: we needed to do home to home visits to make family planning available.” “But now, with the passage of time, this has become much better and easier. These days even our youth peer educators are involved in distributing condoms and pills.” The data underlines this change. “The use of family planning 20 years’ ago was only 20-25 per cent,” Sharad says. “Whereas now, more than 50 per cent have access to family planning services.” 

Sharad Kumar Argal, FPAN Kathmandu Valley branch manager
story

| 24 May 2022

How Family Planning Association of Nepal Youth programmes are saving teens on the brink of suicide

“One time, a sixteen-year-old girl came to see us with an unwanted pregnancy, on the point of suicide,” says Sharad Kumar Argal. “She had been abused by her family and the baby was the result of incest. She was about to commit suicide.”   The girl had never heard of safe abortion, explains Sharad, who works as Kathmandu Valley branch manager for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), the country’s leading family planning NGO.  “Then, very luckily, she happened to come to our youth-friendly centre. From there, she found out about abortion services and she had an abortion through FPAN. FPAN brought her back from the brink of suicide.”  For Sharad, FPAN’s youth programmes are the lifeblood of the organisation. In his twenty years at the organisation, he has seen major changes in family planning law and sexual rights in Nepal, from the legalisation of abortion in 2002, to the introduction of National Family Planning Day in 2014.  One of the changes that he talks passionately about is FPAN’s work supporting young people, and the role of youth volunteers in these activities.  “If you go back 20 years, even talking to people about family planning and especially condoms was very difficult,” he says. “People were hesitant and didn’t want to hear about that in a public space. That made family planning very difficult: we needed to do home to home visits to make family planning available.” “But now, with the passage of time, this has become much better and easier. These days even our youth peer educators are involved in distributing condoms and pills.” The data underlines this change. “The use of family planning 20 years’ ago was only 20-25 per cent,” Sharad says. “Whereas now, more than 50 per cent have access to family planning services.” 

Young nepalese female farmer, IPPF, FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Reproductive health for Nepalese female farmers after the earthquake

Two years after the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, the village of Gatlang in the country’s mountainous north still lies in partial ruin. The houses here are built from enormous slabs of local stone, carved windows and doors, and roofs of stacked wooden planks. They face east towards the rising sun, their facades bedecked in intricate wooden carvings patterns linked to the ancient Buddhist culture of the Tamang people. Today, most of these houses lie in ruin, emptying the heart of the village of people, with most moving to temporary shacks on Gatlang’s fringes. Kopila Tamang is a 24-year-old farmer and mother to two young boys. Her husband, Nakul, works as a lorry driver and is often away. “When the earthquake struck, I was working in the fields,” she says. “If I had been at home, I would have died.” Kopila’s house – or what remains of it – lies at the centre of old Gatlang, on a street of traditional houses that have either entirely collapsed or are uninhabitable due to cracks and structural damage. Piles of stone and wooden cross beams are strewn in what was once a thriving village street. Like many families here, Kopila and her husband and boys have moved into a small shack built from corrugated iron and plastic. This was meant to be a temporary solution, but two years later, they are still living in it, unable to afford the enormous cost of rebuilding their old home. “It needs lots of money,” she says. “I don’t know when we will have the money to build this home again.” FPAN provided emergency health support to families like Kopila’s in the weeks and months after the earthquake. Mobile health camps offered medicines, health check ups, dignity kits, family planning, antenatal checks and other vital services.  These days, Kopila gets regular advice from Pasang Tamang, the FPAN reproductive health female volunteer in the village. Kopila had suffered after the birth of her last child. “I didn’t menstruate for eight months, and then after that I started using the [contraceptive] injection,” she says. “But there were some side effects: I started menstruating twice a month.” She then went to a mobile health camp run by FPAN and started using the intrauterine coil. “After that, my menstruation went back to normal,” she says. In a village scarred by the earthquake, access to family planning has brought some much needed stability and relief to Kopila and her small family. “FPAN provide different services and knowledge: I have come to know that having more children can bring suffering, because it’s not enough to just feed children, they must be educated too” she says. “A small family is a happy family.”

Young nepalese female farmer, IPPF, FPAN
story

| 24 May 2022

Reproductive health for Nepalese female farmers after the earthquake

Two years after the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, the village of Gatlang in the country’s mountainous north still lies in partial ruin. The houses here are built from enormous slabs of local stone, carved windows and doors, and roofs of stacked wooden planks. They face east towards the rising sun, their facades bedecked in intricate wooden carvings patterns linked to the ancient Buddhist culture of the Tamang people. Today, most of these houses lie in ruin, emptying the heart of the village of people, with most moving to temporary shacks on Gatlang’s fringes. Kopila Tamang is a 24-year-old farmer and mother to two young boys. Her husband, Nakul, works as a lorry driver and is often away. “When the earthquake struck, I was working in the fields,” she says. “If I had been at home, I would have died.” Kopila’s house – or what remains of it – lies at the centre of old Gatlang, on a street of traditional houses that have either entirely collapsed or are uninhabitable due to cracks and structural damage. Piles of stone and wooden cross beams are strewn in what was once a thriving village street. Like many families here, Kopila and her husband and boys have moved into a small shack built from corrugated iron and plastic. This was meant to be a temporary solution, but two years later, they are still living in it, unable to afford the enormous cost of rebuilding their old home. “It needs lots of money,” she says. “I don’t know when we will have the money to build this home again.” FPAN provided emergency health support to families like Kopila’s in the weeks and months after the earthquake. Mobile health camps offered medicines, health check ups, dignity kits, family planning, antenatal checks and other vital services.  These days, Kopila gets regular advice from Pasang Tamang, the FPAN reproductive health female volunteer in the village. Kopila had suffered after the birth of her last child. “I didn’t menstruate for eight months, and then after that I started using the [contraceptive] injection,” she says. “But there were some side effects: I started menstruating twice a month.” She then went to a mobile health camp run by FPAN and started using the intrauterine coil. “After that, my menstruation went back to normal,” she says. In a village scarred by the earthquake, access to family planning has brought some much needed stability and relief to Kopila and her small family. “FPAN provide different services and knowledge: I have come to know that having more children can bring suffering, because it’s not enough to just feed children, they must be educated too” she says. “A small family is a happy family.”

Portrait of Binu
story

| 05 July 2017

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Portrait of Binu
story

| 24 May 2022

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal