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Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

albania cervical cancer
Story

Stories about our global efforts to eliminate cervical cancer

From Nigeria to Bermuda, and Albania to Indonesia, our member associations are dedicated to preventing, treating, and ultimately eliminating cervical cancer. 
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

| 07 February 2023

"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

| 07 February 2023

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

| 07 February 2023

"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

| 07 February 2023

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.” 

House damaged by an earthquake
story

| 25 July 2017

Mobile camps provide emergency services for those unable to return home

Muna Shrestha lives with her husband and two children in Bakultar, a rambling village of mud houses, tea shacks and vegetable, miles off a main road, at the end of a long dirt track in Kavre district, a few hours west of Kathmandu. On the morning of Saturday 25 April 2015, when the earthquake struck, she and her family were cleaning the cowshed. “It was so scary,” she says. “The children were not at home: we were so worried about the children and went looking for them. They were also looking for us.” The days after the earthquake were chaotic. “The schools were closed for a month,” Muna says. “And because all our clothes and possessions were in the ruins, it was difficult to get our things.” Their children were deeply traumatised. “They became scared, and, because of this fear, they wouldn’t eat and they suffered from nausea,” Muna says. As she speaks, she gestures around the family’s old home, at the deep fissures in the mud walls. “This home is cracked by the earthquake. Our family also have another house but that was completely destroyed.” Like many families across Nepal, the Shresthas have been unable to afford to rebuild and make their old home structurally safe. It is a story now ubiquitous across Nepal: a family losing their house and possessions, scarred by trauma, and unable to return home.

House damaged by an earthquake
story

| 08 February 2023

Mobile camps provide emergency services for those unable to return home

Muna Shrestha lives with her husband and two children in Bakultar, a rambling village of mud houses, tea shacks and vegetable, miles off a main road, at the end of a long dirt track in Kavre district, a few hours west of Kathmandu. On the morning of Saturday 25 April 2015, when the earthquake struck, she and her family were cleaning the cowshed. “It was so scary,” she says. “The children were not at home: we were so worried about the children and went looking for them. They were also looking for us.” The days after the earthquake were chaotic. “The schools were closed for a month,” Muna says. “And because all our clothes and possessions were in the ruins, it was difficult to get our things.” Their children were deeply traumatised. “They became scared, and, because of this fear, they wouldn’t eat and they suffered from nausea,” Muna says. As she speaks, she gestures around the family’s old home, at the deep fissures in the mud walls. “This home is cracked by the earthquake. Our family also have another house but that was completely destroyed.” Like many families across Nepal, the Shresthas have been unable to afford to rebuild and make their old home structurally safe. It is a story now ubiquitous across Nepal: a family losing their house and possessions, scarred by trauma, and unable to return home.

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 08 February 2023

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

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

| 07 February 2023

"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

| 07 February 2023

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

| 07 February 2023

"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

| 07 February 2023

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.” 

House damaged by an earthquake
story

| 25 July 2017

Mobile camps provide emergency services for those unable to return home

Muna Shrestha lives with her husband and two children in Bakultar, a rambling village of mud houses, tea shacks and vegetable, miles off a main road, at the end of a long dirt track in Kavre district, a few hours west of Kathmandu. On the morning of Saturday 25 April 2015, when the earthquake struck, she and her family were cleaning the cowshed. “It was so scary,” she says. “The children were not at home: we were so worried about the children and went looking for them. They were also looking for us.” The days after the earthquake were chaotic. “The schools were closed for a month,” Muna says. “And because all our clothes and possessions were in the ruins, it was difficult to get our things.” Their children were deeply traumatised. “They became scared, and, because of this fear, they wouldn’t eat and they suffered from nausea,” Muna says. As she speaks, she gestures around the family’s old home, at the deep fissures in the mud walls. “This home is cracked by the earthquake. Our family also have another house but that was completely destroyed.” Like many families across Nepal, the Shresthas have been unable to afford to rebuild and make their old home structurally safe. It is a story now ubiquitous across Nepal: a family losing their house and possessions, scarred by trauma, and unable to return home.

House damaged by an earthquake
story

| 08 February 2023

Mobile camps provide emergency services for those unable to return home

Muna Shrestha lives with her husband and two children in Bakultar, a rambling village of mud houses, tea shacks and vegetable, miles off a main road, at the end of a long dirt track in Kavre district, a few hours west of Kathmandu. On the morning of Saturday 25 April 2015, when the earthquake struck, she and her family were cleaning the cowshed. “It was so scary,” she says. “The children were not at home: we were so worried about the children and went looking for them. They were also looking for us.” The days after the earthquake were chaotic. “The schools were closed for a month,” Muna says. “And because all our clothes and possessions were in the ruins, it was difficult to get our things.” Their children were deeply traumatised. “They became scared, and, because of this fear, they wouldn’t eat and they suffered from nausea,” Muna says. As she speaks, she gestures around the family’s old home, at the deep fissures in the mud walls. “This home is cracked by the earthquake. Our family also have another house but that was completely destroyed.” Like many families across Nepal, the Shresthas have been unable to afford to rebuild and make their old home structurally safe. It is a story now ubiquitous across Nepal: a family losing their house and possessions, scarred by trauma, and unable to return home.

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 08 February 2023

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.