Compared to talking to doctors, they can share everything with us openly. It’s easy for us to talk to them.
– Pratima Chaudhary
“These days, there’s no reason to feel embarrassed about family planning,” says Pratima Chaudhary, a peer facilitator in Nepal with the Health Community Capacity Collaborative (HC3), a Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs project. “Many people know about family planning and spacing their children. Most of them have heard about it from radio and TV. And they hear about specific family planning issues through peer facilitators like me.”
Pratima makes her daily rounds visiting households in her neighborhood of Chitwan Tharu, which sits along the Indian border. She rides her purple bicycle along the dusty roads, often introduced to young couples by community volunteers. Because of her HC3 training, Pratima is able to explain the benefits of family planning with these couples, dispelling harmful myths, discussing contraception options and even connecting them with services. And since she is a member of the community and a mother herself, Pratima says people really speak freely to her. “Compared to talking to doctors, they can share everything with us openly,” she says. “It’s easy for us to talk to them.”
At one stop, Pratima meets Tara and Kesha Dhamala, a young couple with one daughter and another child on the way soon. They say they are done having children. “Two is enough,” Tara says. The couple has never used contraception, so Pratima walks them through their options, arming them with the information they will need when they visit the village’s health clinic.
“I wish people would only have the number of children they can take care of and educate,” Pratima says, heartened by the example of the Dhamalas. “When that happens, our society can develop.”