The mother and baby in my photograph that went viral in social media were the lucky ones. The mother’s name was Tara Luhar from Budiganga Municipality, and after running into them on a village trail, I took the photo after taking their consent.
Although heavily pregnant, Tara had been doing all household chores herself, including raising her other children and taking care of the livestock and farm. No female community health volunteer had visited her home and she did not know that she needed pre-natal checkups, and the need to deliver in a health post or hospital. Most women in Bajura’s traditional families are banished to cowsheds during childbirth.
It was only when her labour dragged on for four days that neighbours and relatives decided to carry Tara to the health post in a stretcher. During the journey lasting several hours, the baby came out and into the dusty trail. Tara simply carried her baby, and walked back home.
This week, after the photograph made her famous, I called Tara Luhar. She said the baby was now four years old and they were both were healthy. Her husband, who was working in India, had died at about the time her son was born. As single mother, she now struggles to make ends meet.
“Most of our births in Bajura are at home, there are very few institutional deliveries,” explains Bimala Pandey of the Bichchyan Health Post in Bajura. “There are many cases of women giving birth while on their way. We have to refer the complicated cases to Achham.”