It is a distressing compilation of tales woven from his experience working overseas, but Heartbreak in the Himalayas is a story Dr Ray Hodgson hopes can create change in rural Nepal.
For almost ten years Dr Ray – as he is know by all – a specialist gynaecologist has travelled to and from Nepal with a team of volunteers in the hope that he can make some impact on the lives of impoverish women.
After finding very little in the way of women’s specialist health in remote Nepal, in 2010 he founded the charity organisation, Australians for Women’s Health (A4WH).
The objective of A4WH is to improve the appalling state of women’s health in Nepal and their current focus is the construction of a Mothers and Babies Hospital in East Nepal.
To aid this enormous undertaking and raise the $500,000 needed to build the hospital, Dr Ray has written a book aptly named Heartbreak in the Himalayas which was launched on International Women's Day 2019.
Heartbreak in the Himalayas details the realities of life for an ill-equipped medical team who often have worked in tents under flashlight with team members even giving their own blood in order to save their dying patients.
"We launched the book on International Women's Day for a reason," Dr Ray said.
"The day is all about celebrating the achievements of women but women in Nepal experience some of the most severe gender imbalance which is one of the reasons our work is so crucial.
"In the beginning we went over and just focused on helping women with prolapse but after we saw the extent of the problem we extended our scope to include general women’s health and maternal health.
"The challenges are both medical – the team work in dilapidated buildings with very limited supplies ̧ enduring frequent power blackouts as well as managing the cultural challenges in what is a highly patriarchal country."
According to the World Economic Forum, the 2016 Global Gender Index reveals that Nepal ranks 110th out of 144 countries on gender parity.
UNESCO found that 23 percent of men in Nepal had never attended school compared to 44 percent women who never attended school.
UNESCO also found that 50 percent of students in primary school will drop out before secondary school with high dropout rates for females mainly caused by child marriages.
Dr Ray said he hopes the book can raise more awareness and funds for the work his team do in Nepal.
"We wouldn’t stand for this in our country and we shouldn’t stand for this in any country, but unfortunately most people are blind to the appalling conditions these women and babies suffer.
"I want this book to open people’s eyes, and to realise how very lucky we are in Australia and I want people to realise that every single one of us can help these desperate people.
"I would love for everyone to purchase a book and then buy another one for a mate. We are trying to raise as much money as we can and spread the word about what we are trying to do.”
Dr Ray will be hosting a book launch at the Westport Club in Port Macquarie on Friday, March 15, from 7pm. You can register your interest to attend via firstname.lastname@example.org.
To purchase a book head to the Australians 4 Women's Health website or come along to the book launch.
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