One of the many things that ADRA is known for is our willingness to work in remote parts of the world, where so often we are the only non-governmental organization present providing immediate relief and long-term solutions to individuals struggling to survive in poverty.
The Tibetan Plateau, where much of the land is above 12,000 feet, is just one of the many remote places where ADRA is working. Chenialwangmao is an ADRA trained community health worker (CHW) living in Zaduo County, high on the Tibetan Plateau of Western China. Zaduo is home to 50,000 people, of whom 95 percent are Tibetan. The territory is vast beyond imagination.
Many Tibetans live in extreme poverty, or on less than $1 a day. These conditions—along with deteriorating and understaffed health facilities, vast distances, and a harsh environment—all contribute to newborn and maternal deaths.
A woman’s work on the high plateau is never-ending: caring for children and performing household chores, milking and caring for animals, collecting and drying dung for fuel, preparing butter and other milk products for food, and collecting valuable natural products such as caterpillar fungus for sale.
Caterpillar fungus digging is backbreaking work. During the digging season (May through June), every able-bodied person is on the plateau digging. This is the number one priority. This is when we have an opportunity to earn our cash income for the year,” says Chenialwangmao.
"In June of this year, during the caterpillar fungus digging time, I visited one village woman who was expecting,” Chenialwangmao shares. “She is 38 years old, and I kept urging her to go to the local hospital, but she did not want to stop digging. When she finally agreed to go to the Yushu hospital (a five-hour drive), they referred her to the Xining hospital (an additional 18-hour drive). At Xining, the doctor found that the baby had already died. I will never forget this woman and her baby."
Gela is a village doctor from the Shanrong village. She shares, "Herding families have told me that this ADRA project is useful; they have learned much. There have been no deaths in my village since this project with the CHWs began. This spring, during the caterpillar fungus digging time, our village was living in tents high in the green pasturelands. We were digging 11 hours a day. During this time, a woman went into labor. I was called to help her, and when the baby was born, he was not breathing. I quickly did the neonatal respiration that ADRA taught, and the baby’s life was saved."