|Nurse, mother and child at Kumudini*|
Her grandfather started this hospital in Mirzapur. He built it with his own funds, after coming up the river to in a houseboat from India in the 1930s. The village has grown into a town, and the hospital has both a school for girls and a medical school, which trains promising young women to be doctors and nurses.
People can get medical care here for free. Kumudini charges a nominal fee for medicine — between 5 and 10 taka — less than the cost of a short rickshaw ride in Dhaka, about the price of a banana.
I talk to an older male doctor there, who, when I ask him if he likes his work, says, "Money's nothing compared to knowing you're really helping the people."
|Men's Ward at Kumudini Hospital*|
The hospital incorporates many faiths. Catholic nuns run the nursing college, many of the patients here are Hindu (a minority in Bangladesh, about 9% of the nation's population) in addition to Muslim. One of the nuns, the third of her sisters to become a nun, speaks to me about the joy that this service, teaching and nursing, has brought her. I get her number so we can talk more.
I talk to a young female doctor who had done her training there, and is now entering her internship. She loves the work, she says, and is thankful for the opportunity. She exudes an air of quiet confidence and professionalism that I think is a clear byproduct of this place, which invests in women, and allows them to invest in their community.
*Photo credit 1: http://bop.nppa.org/2009/still_photography/ winners/?cat=NTP&place=HM1
Photo credit 2: http://www.thedailystar.net/lifestyle/2010/11/04/page01.htm