Prayatna Nepal is a self-help organization that is working continuously to empower the living conditions of women and girls with visual impairments. The organization is established by the group of both women with and without visual impairments. Among the seven board members, five (71%) have a visual impairment, including the chairperson. The idea of including women with and without disabilities in the organization is to make equal efforts by every individual with a better understanding to improve the social, cultural, economic, environmental, and political lives of women with visual impairments.
The program was commenced by Ms. Sarita Lamichhane, chairperson of Prayatna Nepal, who facilitated the opening session of training. She welcomed all the participants and highlighted the objective of the training along with the introduction of Prayatna Nepal. She also asked all participants to introduce themselves, where they were asked to mention their respective names and types of disability. Among the participants, the majority were visually impaired women, and one was visually impaired man and two girls with hearing impairment also participated making it a diverse group. After that, she welcomed Dr. Khem Karki (Member Secretary, Nepal Health Research Council and Senior Gynecologist) who started his session by asking participants to raise their concerns and questions based on the session. He highlighted their questions and addressed them accordingly. He explained about the behaviors that may cause disability by birth or influence birth defects. According to him, he mentioned that bad social behaviors such as alcoholism, tobacco consumption, unhealthy food intake or nutritional deficiency, infections, use of drugs/medicine, exposure to harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, organic solvents. He further explained that these behaviors in women before and during the pregnancy can hugely impact or cause disability by birth. As per him, behavioral impact on birth is largely affected by mothers than fathers. This means that mothers behaviors and habits can have more impact on babies. However, this doesn’t mean that harmful behaviors by fathers do not contribute to birth defects, but if compared, mother’s lifestyle impact more than that of fathers. Besides behaviors and lifestyles, another main cause of disability by birth is heredity or DNA. According to Dr. Khem, there is little to no way of preventing such ordeals as they cannot be controlled externally or by any medications.
Furthermore, he talked further about TORCH profile, which can be done during pregnancy. It stands for Toxoplasmosis (T) Other, including syphilis (O) Rubella (R) Cytomegalovirus (C) Herpes simplex virus (H), which is a test used to diagnose infections that could harm an unborn baby during pregnancy. Cytomegalovirus is a type of herpes virus and is most common congenital infection among babies which is highly transmitted from mothers. This virus can cause long-term problems in babies, including problems with vision, hearing, and mental development. As most participants were visually impaired women, they were intrigued to know about this test as it may help them find out possible vision-related disabilities in their unborn babies so that they can take decisions accordingly or be mentally prepared.
After his interesting session, he opened the floor to open discussions and a question-and answers round. The participants thoroughly enjoyed his session and asked many questions out of interest and curiosity. After addressing all the concerns and questions of the participants, Ms. Jima Lamkoliya (vice-chairperson of Prayatna Nepal as well as one of the participants of the program) facilitated the closing session of the program. She took feedback from each participant. The participants expressed their gratitude towards Dr. Khem Karki and Prayatna Nepal team and suggested to provide such awareness and interactive sessions to more general people and persons with disabilities. In this way, Ms. Jima concluded the session by thanking Dr. Khem Karki for his excellent presentation delivery methods and for sharing important knowledge as well as to all the participants for active participation on behalf of Prayatna Nepal.