DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESTHA
In terms of human development indicators, Achham is one of the most deprived districts in Nepal. When they come up for transfer, It is the last preference for civil servants, teachers and doctors.
Yet, three young Nepali women say they wouldn't work anywhere else. Krishna Kadayat, Rajni Shah and Sarita GC work in healthcare here in Achham, a district where up to three-fourths of all children are undernourished.
Rajni works for the government hospital in Mangalsen, and says traveling to remote areas of the district is difficult, and she doesn't get to eat or sleep properly, but that is where her services are required the most.
"But it is the look of gratitude on the faces of the village mothers that makes us forget our own hardships, it is really fulfilling," Rajni explains.
Rajni travels to 12 health posts and two primary healthcare centers in various parts of the district, treating pregnant women under a community based health program that aims to prevent the transfer of HIV/AIDS from mother to child. Rajni's family has tried to convince her to quit such a difficult job and return to Dhangadi. But she is determined to stay on.
Many of Rajni's and Krishna's classmates and families have moved to the cities or abroad, but the two decided not just to stay in Nepal but to return to their native district.
"I decided to come back because I feel my own people need my service more than those in the cities," says Krishna, who now works at Chandika VDC, near her birthplace.
She is moved by the heart-breaking poverty, illiteracy and discrimination in Achham's outlying villages, but says she is glad to be doing her bit. "Of course, life is hard, but that is a given. It is what I do that gives me real self-satisfaction," she says.
Sarita GC is from Palpa and works with Rajni. She graduated in nursing and public health, and has worked in many of Nepal's least-developed districts. She was inspired to take up public health after seeing the condition of children there.
Sarita's sister is in Australia and has been trying to convince her to move. Her brother is in Canada and her friends all have comfortable jobs in Kathmandu.
Asked what keeps her going in Achham's dirt-poor villages, Sarita replies: "Using my skills and knowledge to help save the lives of fellow Nepalis gives me a feeling of tremendous fulfillment. I don't think I would get that in any other job anywhere else."
Every day is Mother's Day, RUMA RAJBHANDARI