Wrapping up. Chapatis, tea and talk.

The staff meeting was to begin at 1:30. At 2pm people were beginning to gather. There seemed to be no agenda but we began. Everybody chatted and the agenda made itself apparent. Chapatis and spicey potatoes and cups of tea were brought in. People wandered in and out and at one point I thought I’d better give my prepared report on my visit. So I did. I wanted to avoid being rude and inappropriate, but the more I suggested the more they nudged me to be more direct. The staff received everything I said with such receptive kindness that it was humbling. Truly amazing how different behavior can be in another culture, and yet we really do understand and respect each other. There is something about the way things work here that is both frustrating and extremely refreshing at the same time. I will miss it. The slow pace is both pleasant and irritating by turns. Nothing happens and things surprise you and all of a sudden, it’s done. Birth can be like that too, can’t it?

I had my Dal Bhatt this evening, with the realization that I won’t be eating it many times more. I rode the bus on my 15 cent ride through the dirty streets knowing I would soon be breathing the marginally less polluted air of Texas. I walked through the throngs of pedestrians, narrowly missed by hooting motor bikers, knowing how much I would miss the street life, the noise and variety of Kathmandu in suburban Dallas.

Women are women, midwives are midwives, and birth is birth, but Nepali style it’s all a bit different, wonderfully so. Thank you Kathmandu. And lots of love.

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Outside “helpers”. Thoughts from a wandering Jew.

Tiptoeing through a minefield

Tiptoeing through a minefield

We are a wandering species. Wandering and shared culture is mutually strengthening. One of my personal goals on this trip is to be tipped off-balance by new experiences, different people and places, and to gain personally from this. As I wrote in one of my earliest posts (“Intercultural Understanding July 29th” https://wiwok.wordpress.com/2013/07/  ) “I believe that help is a minefiled”. My whiteness and my American experience give my words and my ideas power that I do not intend. I am treated with a deference that is both natural hospitality and a discomfitting honor that belies a very mixed intercultural history.

Bringing ideas and teaching imply a negative assessment of midwives and APS Birth Center. A negative assessment does not mean criticism. There is no blame given. But I know it is felt. And that feeling weakens the confidence of those struggling here under very difficult circumstances. It disempowers them and makes them more dependent. So, what if I didn’t try to do what I am doing? What if all the do-gooders walked out of Nepal and left them to their own devices? Maybe they would be better off and midwifery, mothers and babies would figure out quite happily how to care for themselves. Such abstract questions are meaningless and absurd, however, in a globalised and interdependent world. The strength of technological systems deriving from corporate power are such that the marginalised, the midwives and normal birth would lose. So I continue to tiptoe around the minefield.

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