For many years in the village development community of Ruma, Nepal, it was common for people to get sick and even die because of poor hygiene practices.
Thanks to the help of the ELCA’s churchwide ministries and worldwide partners, though, the area is becoming a healthier and safer place to live.
Chandran Martin works with the ELCA’s churchwide ministries in South Asia. For a number of years, Chandran says, households in Ruma didn’t have toilets, and open-air latrines were common.
In addition, the village had no processes to purify drinking water. Add to this the fact that people made a habit of leaving their drinking water uncovered and that hand-washing was rare, and it’s no surprise people were often ill.
But by working together with the people of Nepal and other Lutheran organizations, Chandran says, lives are being changed.
“This is the calling and the inspiration the ELCA receives from God’s love to humanity,” he shares.
Through a partnership with The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of Lutheran churches from around the world, a number of education programs are changing the conditions in Ruma. For instance, a program called the Sustainable Livelihood Improvement Project has been teaching the residents of Ruma the importance of proper hygiene and health practices.
Amrita Shahi was one of many people in Ruma who had fallen ill numerous times because of conditions in the community. With the help of the program, she now has a latrine at her home and has learned to keep her drinking-water pot covered.
“I don’t know why we used to drink unsafe water or keep our water pot open,” she says. “Maybe due to the lack of knowledge and wrong practices, we used to suffer from diarrhea and other water-borne diseases.”
Another program in Rama is teaching women about important social and economic issues. Laxima Bishwakarma, a pregnant mother of three, learned about the importance of pre- and post-natal care from attending one such class. Since attending the class, she has visited a clinic — something she never thought to do during her first three pregnancies.
And her family, too, has been paying more attention to Laxima’s health and nutrition. “Everything is so different this time that the family members are so affectionate and caring about the food I take,” Laxima says.
“The ELCA accompaniment with The Lutheran World Federation in Nepal goes toward addressing and responding to the consequences of human suffering and poverty,” Chandran says. “Where else would the ELCA be, and what else would it be doing but this!”