Heard the one about the scythe, soap and the sewing machine?

Community EmpowermentEducationAfghanistan

Hazarajat is a highland region of central Afghanistan where the people mostly live off the land and many communities face similar problems due to poverty – unemployment, limited access to safe water, malnourished children, poor health and vulnerability to natural disasters. But the Hazara people set a high value on education and here’s three contrasting ways in which learning supported by Tearfund is paying off:

A scary way to welcome a baby

Scythe. Photo: Clarita/MorgueFile

Tradition has it that when a new baby arrives in Naw Miana village, out comes a scythe in a ceremony believed to give the child longer life.

The tool is used to cut the newborn’s umbilical cord, but it also carries the significant risk of infection as it’s normally unclean as a result of its main use, working the land.

A birth and life saving skills course run by Tearfund’s partner has changed the thinking of many women in Naw Maina, who now realise the scythe technique endangers new babies and their mums.

So from now on when a child is born, the scythe stays in the shed where it belongs. Phew...

It smells nice and fresh here…

Photo: Bruce Clark/Tearfund

It was just another day at the chalkface for teaching staff from a Tearfund partner, until they arrived in class to be confronted by something truly remarkable – clean kids.

The children of Sia Khaki School were no longer strangers to soap and the teachers knew that all their hard work in getting across hygiene and health messages had paid off.

The children’s initial disinterest had given way to a realisation that what our partner was teaching could be life-changing in an area where typhoid blights communities.

‘We learned we should be clean to prevent sickness,’ said Zahra, one of the students, who also learnt about the importance of sanitation. ‘We like taking part in this course, so we can learn more things which we can pass on to our families and others.’

When you can’t go to Primark or Top Shop

It’s a conversation every parent dreads to have with their children.

The one about new clothes. The one that’ll lead to disappointment, maybe tears, because money is tight and someone is going to miss out on a new outfit.

Places selling cheap clothes don’t exist in Jari Badal and Naw Attar and paying a tailor is relatively expensive for people in poverty.

Tearfund’s partner is running a tailoring course where women learn how to measure their children, cut cloth and use a sewing machine. They’re also given some clothing designs from professional tailors.

‘I’m very happy to take part in this course because now I can sew new clothes for my children and for others,’ said one trainee, whose newfound skill boosts the family income. ‘It helps my family and makes my children happy because they will not say that our clothes are not as beautiful as the other children’s.’

If you share our delight in seeing lives changed by new knowledge and want to support our work, please do so here.

Mark Lang