21 June 2011
Deprived Afghan villages susceptible to illness because of poor hygiene practices are enjoying better health after receiving Tearfund training.
Communities around Kandahar have previously been badly affected by outbreaks of infectious disease, notably diarrhoea.
In one village, 48 residents became ill over a two month period, with many children aged under ten suffering significantly.
A Tearfund team identified that villagers were unaware of simple hygiene measures.
One villager called Abdullah jan explained: ‘Before the Tearfund team came to our village, we didn’t wash our hands when we touched grimy things and we didn’t pay attention to keeping our hands clean. We were faced with several diseases and stomach illnesses.’
In a neighbouring community, there was an identical problem. Ibrahim, a village elder, said, ‘We didn’t understand the cause of this serious illness. Quickly, Tearfund heard of the problems and have since been helping us’.
A group of Afghan men learning about health education. Photo: Bryony Norman/Tearfund
The Tearfund team trained volunteers from the village in good hygiene practice so they in turn could educate the wider community.
They were taught about the issue of cross-contamination and the importance of hand-washing before eating and feeding children.
Ibrahim said, ‘First, they provided training for people who had ill family members. Day by day the problem of diarrhoea reduced, when before it had been a serious problem for us.
‘Many of us had visited hospitals when suffering from diarrhoea and fever. We appreciate that Tearfund health workers have shown us the correct way to combat different diseases and save our lives.’
Abdullah Jan said, ‘Through the teaching of the Tearfund workers, we have learnt that hand-washing removes bacteria and organisms causing diseases. This knowledge will help us to save money we would have spent on treating preventable illness.’