15 years later, Tuli goes home
In Sanfe, a village nestled in the valley below Possible’s Bayalpata hospital, Tuli doubled over in pain. Her contractions were growing stronger, and she had nobody but her 4-year-old daughter to help her. A Female Community Healthcare Volunteer (FCHV) was working in the area when she noticed Tuli in pain.
As she approached her to help, she realized that there was more to Tuli that met the eye — she was mute.
The FCHV immediately organized for Tuli and her daughter to be transported to Bayalpata hospital for care. The doctors thoroughly examined her and determined she was suffering from Braxton-Hicks contractions or false labor, and that her actual due date was still a few months away.
Unable to communicate with her, and worried for her welfare, our staff decided to keep her in the Maternity Ward until her family came to take her home. As she hadn’t been seen by our Community Health staff within our catchment area before, they assumed that she was travelling with family and had just been separated, and that they would surely go in search of her.
After a month, there was still no sign of Tuli’s family. In the weeks following Tuli’s arrival at Bayalpata Hospital, Possible staff had been working with the local police to try and locate Tuli’s family. They worked within their network to spread word of Tuli and her circumstances, but to no avail.
Tuli would spend her days wandering the hospital grounds and basking in the sun outside the Maternity Ward. Her presence was welcomed by all, and she quickly became a favorite among staff, shaking their hands and smiling excitedly each morning as they arrived for work. The shopkeepers around the hospital provided Tuli and her daughter with free tea and biscuits in the day and the nurses stationed in the In-Patient Ward cooked meals for them at night.
Two months after her arrival, Tuli went into labor. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy after a smooth delivery in our maternity ward.
“The mothers are usually discharged after a day following a normal delivery, and it would have to be the same for Tuli. She no longer had a reason to occupy a bed in our maternity ward; but where would Tuli go?” said Nira Kumari Pun Magar our Auxiliary Nurse Midwife.
Unwilling to give up, our staff worked with Women Development Committee to ensure that Tuli had a home to go to, and that she would receive comprehensive follow up care, even in her foster home. Staff sat with Tuli and asked her to write her address, but her handwriting was illegible. Staff wrote the names of anywhere and everywhere they could think of, and showed her pictures of famous landmarks, yet Tuli shook her head at each.
A strong bond with Tuli was formed, and our staff were determined to find her family. Her pictures were taken and shared on social media networks. They knew they were running out of time before Tuli would be taken to foster care, as they desperately reached out to everyone they could to help find her home.
Late one night, one of our nurses received a call saying that the photo that had been shared looked remarkably similar to that of a family member who had gone missing many years before. Possible followed the lead closely to ensure its validity, and once they had sufficient evidence, set up a call between Tuli and her family. It was clear from the sheer joy and excitement on Tuli’s face once she heard her mother’s voice that Possible had succeeded in locating Tuli’s family.
Within a few days, Tuli’s mother and brother arrived at Bayalpata to collect her.
“Tuli was married 14 years ago. She went missing during the Civil War a few years later, and despite our best efforts to work with the police to find her, in that state of turmoil, we lost hope that we would find Tuli safe and sound,” said Tuli’s mother. Her family stated her hometown as Kanchanpur–more than 14 hours away from Achham.
As Tuli and her family left the hospital, feelings at Possible were bittersweet. While all the staff were delighted that Tuli was reunited with her family, her smiling presence would be greatly missed by all at Bayalpata Hospital.