Well-known local specialist gynaecologist Dr Ray Hodgson and his team have spent a lot of time in Nepal over the years, assisting women with issues associated with pelvic organ prolapse, and working to reduce high infant and mother mortality rates due to pregnancy and birthing complications …
Dr Hodgson will be heading off to Nepal for his 18th surgical camp in May, but in his “spare” time he’s also been busy writing a book, Heartbreak in the Himalayas. Proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards funding a much needed Mothers and Babies Hospital in Dolakha, Nepal …
Hi Dr Hodgson. The last time we spoke (which was a few years ago now!) you were about to head off on another trip to Nepal. How many times have you visited this country now – and when is your next trip planned?
Hi Jo. We run three surgical camps each year in remote Nepal. Our next trip will begin on May 26th; this will be our 18th camp. (It feels a bit like a second home.)
What are your thoughts on the progress being made in countries like Nepal, in terms of the number of women and children being successfully treated for issues such as uterine prolapse and other birth complications? Do you feel as if you and your team are making headway?
Organisations like ours have made some inroads, but there’s still a long way to go. There are still many thousands of women who suffer the physical and emotional trauma of severe prolapse.
And every day, in the remote areas in particular, there are still huge numbers of mothers and babies dying from preventable diseases.
The not-for-profit organisation you founded, Australians for Women’s Health, has been arranging the construction of a Mothers and Babies Hospital in Dolakha. How is construction progressing at this stage?
We’re really excited about our Mothers and Babies Hospital. Construction is only just about to begin. Over the last few years we’ve been gradually accumulating funds to pay for the construction of the hospital. We need to raise $500,000 for the building itself, and just recently we reached the $300,000 mark.
You’ve written a book, Heartbreak in the Himalayas, which will be released on March 8 (to coincide with International Women’s Day). Tell us a little bit about the work that went into producing this book.
This has been a long time coming. We’ve had so many adventures and challenges with our camps over the years, and so many people back here in Australia seem really interested in the work we’re doing. I thought if I could capture some of those moments, people could get a real feel for the struggles and the anguish the Nepalese women suffer each day.
But the book’s not just about the Nepalese – the Australian volunteers have their own challenges and setbacks. They need to fight their own fierce battles to provide the medical care these women so desperately need.
What format does the book take?
It’s a 400-page book that’s written in the first person. Most of the story reads like a novel. We follow a 12-year-old local Nepalese girl in remote Nepal, as she weaves her way through the complex culture that is Nepal. There’s something magical about this child, and she seems to provide some hope for the hundreds of thousands of other women and girls who continue to suffer from burden of the patriarchal culture and the scarce medical resources.
Where will profits from the sale of this book go?
Every cent of the profit from the sale of each book will go directly to fund the construction of the Mothers and Babies Hospital.
The Rotary Club of Port Macquarie will be hosting a fundraising auction and dinner on March 30 at Laurieton United Services Club, at which you’ll be the keynote speaker. Will we be able to purchase copies of your book at the event … and how much will they cost?
Rotary International, and in particular, The Rotary Club of Port Macquarie, have been outstanding with their support of our hospital project. Rotary have pledged over $200,000 to provide the fitting out of the hospital with all the latest medical equipment and fixtures. And, they’ve been dedicated enough to organise the fundraising dinner next month.
Tickets are available from Laurieton United Services Club for $50 per person (call 6559 9110). And yes, the book will be available at the dinner for purchase at $30 (plus GST).
How else can FOCUS readers assist with Australians for Women’s Health and its ongoing goals?
We wouldn’t stand for the appalling state of women’s health in our own country. There would be marches of protest in the street. We shouldn’t stand for the appalling state of women’s health in other countries.
Every one of us can do something to improve the lives of women and babies in Nepal. Buy a book. Buy one for a friend. Come to the fundraising dinner. Contact us if you think you can offer some help as a volunteer – here on the ground in Port, or on one of our surgical camps in Nepal.
Where can we find out further info?
Please visit our website: www.A4WH.org – there are links to purchase a book or to find out more information regarding volunteering.
Thanks Dr Hodgson.
Interview: Jo Robinson.