Local women help out in Nepal | SierraSun.com

Local women help out in Nepal

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Photo by Donna Reid

After living and working in Humla for seven months with her husband, something about the remote region of Nepal got under Sarah Ferris’ skin.

A registered nurse on the women’s floor at Tahoe Forest Hospital, Ferris took interest in the lack of medical resources for the Humli people ” particularly for women birthing and newborn children.

“There are two doctors for 45,000 people,” Ferris said. “They have an 81-in-1,000 infant mortality.”

So Ferris formed the Bodhi Tree Foundation, a nonprofit aimed to promote healthy birthing in Humla, and took a group of 12 Truckee-Tahoe-area women for a trek in October to help spread supplies and knowledge in the impoverished northwestern corner of Nepal.

“I wanted to see what Sarah was doing over there,” said Else Uglum, a pediatrician at North Lake Pediatrics. “And I wanted to look at the pediatric need in the area, which was huge.”

The group gave out supplies and clean birthing kits, and taught basic birthing practices as they went, Ferris said.

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“Most Hindu women have to birth in a cow shed ” they’re considered unclean, while Buddhists are allowed to birth in the house,” Ferris said.

Uglum said the hospital was a hospital only in name ” an empty building with cows wandering through.

While the group encountered other problems, like low literacy rates, a per-capita income of $168 and unsafe drinking water, Amy Easterbrook of Truckee said they had to keep focused on what brought them there.

“It’s so easy to get off track ” there are so many things to do,” Easterbrook said.

But despite the poor conditions, Easterbrook said both the region and the people were amazing.

“Every village the people were so beautiful, and the children ” that was heartbreaking,” Easterbrook said.

Not only did the women volunteer their time as part of the trek to help out, but part of the money they paid to come along went to the nonprofit as well, Ferris said.

Donna Reid, a local photographer with A Day in Your Life Photography, went along as well to document the trip and sell the photos, giving part of the proceeds for the cause.

“I also went into the touristy Everest region, but the Humla region was like what Nepal must of been like back in the day,” Reid said. “It was like stepping back in time.”

Each woman said she came back to Truckee and Tahoe with a new perspective.

“I just think how lucky people in Truckee are ” people in other places are in so much worse shape,” Uglum said.

Sarah Ferris said future fundraising efforts could include a family trek in May or June of 2009, another women’s trek next fall and a variety of other local events.

Those interested in the learning more about Bodhi Tree Foundation and upcoming events can go to bodhitreefoundation.org or call 587-9137.