Urmila Bhatta is 22 and a young woman from the remote far western region Kailali in Nepal. In such a place it is the young, like Urmila, who are the most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region. The area has a large proportion of male migrant workers and it is common for them to contract the disease working in India before passing it on to their wives when they return.
Urmila witnessed first hand the daily prejudice and suffering of these women. In response she joined Restless Development in Nepal to make a positive impact on her community and help combat the misunderstandings and stereotypes that surround the disease.
During her work as a volunteer in Doti, Urmila met with a 40 year old woman who had contracted HIV through her migrant worker husband. He had since died from the disease and her family excluded her. She was made to sleep in a separate room, eat separate food and wash her clothes from a different tap. Learning of the woman’s suffering, Urmila persuaded the woman’s daughter-in-law to participate in the Restless Development community workshop teaching locals about HIV/AIDS. Upon completion, the attitudes of her family members completely changed and she has since been welcomed back into the family.
Inspired by her experience volunteering with Restless Development, Urmila returned to her own village and conducted a two day workshop to educate people about HIV/AIDS so that her own community could benefit from the knowledge and expertise she had gained through her time with Restless Development.
Urmila did not stop there. She volunteered for dance4life, which we run, and empowered and encouraged young people to be active and enthusiastic leaders in the fight against AIDS. Urmila is currently studying for a Masters degree in Education and is the National Secretariat of a student-led group, seeking to use education to urge the Nepali Government to implement effective national reconstruction. She believes that the problems that young people face must be high on the government’s agenda and that ‘our youth are the power of this nation.’
Restless Development will continue to support Urmila and educate others on the problems facing young people.