Chepangs struggle to keep infants alive in harsh winter

- PAWAN YADAV, Chitwan
Chepangs struggle to keep infants alive in harsh winter

Dec 24, 2014-

In the absence of proper shelter and health awareness, the economically deprived Chepang families in Lothar VDC have been facing a difficult time saving their newborns and infants from the harsh winter cold. For Mina Kumari Chepang, 21, of Kelung, Lothar-6, it was a compulsion to give birth to her baby in the fields. All three children of Mina, who was married at an early age of 13, were born in the fields.

While she lost her first child to pneumonia, she has been struggling to keep her eight-day-old newborn and three-year-old son, Anil, out of harm’s way. Although Anil was also born in the fields, he has managed to beat the odds and has reached the age of three. Concerned about the well-being of her newborn, Mina said that she has been keeping the infant warm through body heat.

“As the cold wind seeps in through the dilapidated hut where I live, it is difficult to take proper care of my grand children and post-partum daughter-in-law,” said 38-year-old Buddhimaya, Mina’s mother-in-law.

“The doctor had told us to feed her nutritional diet, but we are only able to provide her cornmeal porridge due to our difficult financial condition,” Buddimaya lamented. Adding to their woes, it takes about 12 hours on foot to reach the nearest market, Bhandara, making it even harder for them to get daily essentials.

Meanwhile, nurse Anuradha Gautam of the sub-health post in Baswang, located an hour’s walk away from the village, said that the locals hesitate to visit the

facility due to lack of health awareness.

Stating that the locals are reeling under poor financial conditions, which has left them without enough food to eat and warm clothes to ward off the cold, Gautam said that most of the under-age mothers lack even basic knowledge regarding child care. Despite being part of a developing district, Gautam said that it was sad that the village did not even have radio or cellular network.

According to KP Kiran Sharma, who works closely with the Chepangs, there are around 30,000 Chepangs in the district.

Published: 25-12-2014 09:07

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