Reminiscing about my field trip to Ramche is like flipping through a photo album in my mind. The memories are so vivid that I can almost hear the laughter and feel the chilly mountain breeze. Let me take you on a journey to this hidden gem tucked away in the northern part of Nepal.
Ramche, a charming village nestled in the Rasuwa district, boasts an enchanting backdrop of the Langtang mountains. Just a short distance from the bustling Dhunche Bazar, it feels like a world apart. The village sits at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level and spans 10.8 square kilometers. With its three villages—Grang, Palep, and Ramche Bazar—it’s a living testament to the Tamang culture.
Picture yourself in Ramche as the snowflakes gently fall and a curtain of fog envelops everything. It’s as if you’re living above the clouds, a feeling that’s hard to describe but impossible to forget.
Our adventure began on a fine day on May 18. A group of 42 students of second-year, all part of the Bachelor in Public Health program at the Central Department of Public Health, set out on a mission. Our goal was a month-long Community Health Diagnosis (CHD) field trip to Kalika Gaupalika in Rasuwa. Dividing into smaller groups, my team of nine embarked on our journey to Ward Number 1 in Ramche, the highest point in the entire area.
As we arrived at our destination, the rain welcomed us with its soothing rhythm. Finding shelter in our ward chairperson’s house, the warmth of a cup of tea served by his mother, affectionately called “Aama,” eased the chill in the air. It was a simple gesture, but it immediately made us feel at home.
The next morning greeted us with a clear and sunny sky, signaling a promising start to our journey. Our initial task involved conducting a transect walk, during which we walked around the village and explored its geographical layout, settlements, location of health posts and schools, forest areas, and major types of trees and vegetation. After forming a mental sketch of Ramche, we translated it into reality by organizing a “social mapping” session that mobilized the community members. This session aimed to outline a village sketch using locally available resources, allowing us to understand better and connect with the place and its people.
Following the next day, we started the heart of our mission—the fifteen days of the data-collection phase. Equipped with umbrellas, raincoats, and essentials, we would leave our accommodation as early as five in the morning to reach the nearby village of Grange. Grang, being more populated than Ramche, became our primary destination. We would walk or ask for lifts, carrying our weighing machines and stadiometers. Upon reaching houses, we divided into groups and commenced our work. Our mission was to administer questionnaires provided by our college, aimed at extracting information on various aspects such as family size, economic status, education level, and knowledge of communicable and non-communicable diseases, as well as hygiene, sanitation, and more.
Ramche grappled with major issues of Early Marriage and a lack of knowledge about Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and safe abortion services.
Our data-collection venture wasn’t confined to mere numbers. It was an expedition into the lives of Ramche’s residents. Their stories shared generously, revealed intricate details of their families, economic circumstances, and cultural practices. The locals’ affectionate address of “Sir and Miss” added a personal touch to our interactions, making us feel like part of their community.
After collecting data for hours and hours, we would regroup and return back home, navigating the challenging terrain and often feeling exhausted. The best part of our days would be the tasty lunch served by our Aama that would be waiting for us when we returned. Extremely tired and hungry, we would devour one big full plate of rice thanking Aama and complimenting the food in Tamang language “Rongba bhayo, aama!”
This routine continued for fifteen days, covering Grang, Palep, and Ramche Bazar. By the end, we had gathered information from almost all the houses, totaling 263 households. After a well-deserved rest, we delved into data analysis and interpretation, spending days working on our computers. Evenings were reserved for walks and conversations with the local people.
Tackling early marriage
Our analysis, supplemented by tools like Key Informant Interviews and Focus Group Discussions, led us to a profound conclusion. Ramche grappled with major issues of Early Marriage and a lack of knowledge about Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and safe abortion services. This realization drove us to action. We formulated and executed a Micro-Health Project to address these concerns.
In the only school in Ramche Bazar, Shree Seti-Bhume Higher Secondary School, we organized a powerful drama stressing the significance of higher education and highlighting the drawbacks of Early Marriage. We also conducted school sessions on topics such as “Menstrual Hygiene and Management,” “Safe Sexual Practices,” and “Safe Abortion Services” for students of grades 9 and 10.
While we couldn’t initiate large-scale policy changes, our efforts during our stay immensely benefited the people of Ramche. Our findings, presented through community presentations, provided the ward personnel with invaluable insights into the status of various issues among the population. This information would guide future programs in the ward.
Our engagement with students, a key target group, was particularly inspiring. They absorbed the information eagerly, and our evaluation showed their grasp of the topics we shared. The drama on early marriage even prompted them to aim higher in life by completing their higher level of education and not marrying before the legal age of 20.
As our stay neared its end, we felt a bittersweet mixture of fulfillment and nostalgia. We had accomplished our mission, and our hearts were filled with gratitude. With khadas draped around our necks, we bade farewell to Ramche on June 13, returning to Kathmandu with gifts, memories, and stories to treasure, leaving behind a village that had become a part of us.
Months have passed, but the memories are as fresh as ever. The view from my window in Ramche, the conversations with the locals, the joy of gathering data even in the rain, the comfort of warm meals on cold days, and the late-night chats with my roommates—they are all stitched into my soul. As I prepare for my second-year final exams, my CHD book becomes more than a collection of notes—it’s a portal back to those transformative days. I can’t help but flip through the pages, each page a reminder of the journey that made me more than a student. It made me a part of something bigger, a part of Ramche.
Simran KC is pursuing undergraduate course in public health at the Institute of Medicine, Maharajgunj, Kathmandu.