Friday, June 14, 2013

Al-Shahid Saeed Haidar School adopts better hygiene practices

With the support of UNICEF, Save the Children was successfully able to implement a WASH project in sin Lahj. The project which started in February 2012, includes activities such as distributing WASH hygiene supplies (consumable kits and tools, plumping materials) and also conducting hygiene promotion activities (awareness sessions, trainings, cleaning campaigns).

Omar Fathi is a 13 year old 8th grader in Al-Shahid Saeed Haidar School. He told us how the project started in his school and what his role in it was: “When the program started in my school, a committee came and asked that one student in each class gets chosen to be trained on hygiene care so that he can teach his peers. I was nominated in my class and we now have sessions in which I explain about hygiene and diarrhea and conduct activities to teach the other students how to take more care of their hygiene, wash their hands, cut their nails, etc. We also make a schedule for cleaning the school; everyday a group of students from one classroom will go out and clean the whole school.”

Omar Fathi explaining good hygiene practices to his fellow peers.

The Al-Shahid Saeed Haidar School was not in a good condition before the intervention of the WASH project. It had lack of supplies and was not cleaned constantly. Naseem Mohammed Saleh, a 31 year old volunteer for Save the Children expressed that the project has a great impact on the school and that the students have reacted very well towards it and accepted it greatly. She continued to say: “The school had lack of supplies and was not able to afford all necessary equipment for cleaning. Save the Children has provided us with everything needed, sweepers, soaps. The school was very dirty but now even when I enter the toilets, they’re very clean. The school management is very cooperative and so are the students. Since there are no janitors, the school principle and I would sometimes go clean the toilets ourselves but soon find ourselves surrounded by students who are helping us clean as well.”

Naseem Mohammed with a group of students who are performing a play about hygiene which is one of the activities of the project

Naseem also told us about the approach she takes to get the students excited about cleaning the school: “When I conduct awareness sessions in this school, I don’t force students to go out and clean. I leave it up to them to choose whether or not to help in cleaning. I think that motivated them more to help and keep their classrooms and toilets clean. We conduct awareness sessions and activities everyday in the school. To be honest I am astonished at how well the students have accepted this program and worked on it. I didn’t expect this reaction at all and I hope it will continue to be this way."

Written by: Alaa Al-Eryani
Photos by: Alaa Al-Eryani

My right to live in a clean environment

Shuhd is a nine year old girl living in Al Hota, a district within the southern Lahj governorate in southern Yemen. She has just begun the second grade at Al-Zahra School and will tell you “I want to be a doctor when I grow up so I can be able to help children and I love drawing, especially birds and trees”. Like many other children her age, she typically starts her day by helping her mother with the housework, cooking and looking after her brothers. When she is not in school she enjoys watching television or listening to music.

Shuhd is one of the many children and families who benefitted from Save the Children’s hygiene campaign and awareness sessions. We asked her to tell us a little bit about how she has been involved with Save the Children’s activities and how they have affected her life and her family.
“One day, a man from our neighborhood called Marwan [Marwan is one of the volunteers in the WASH program in Lahj] came to our house and gave us information sheets and tips about hygiene. He also talked to us about overusing water and wasting it and how bad that is because water is a blessing and we must preserve it. Marwan taught us how to keep ourselves clean and take care of our hygiene especially by washing our hands before and after meals, after using the toilet, and after we play. That’s because our hands are always exposed and so they collect lots of germs. He also taught us that any uncovered or exposed food causes sickness and therefore we must cover our food to keep it away from germs and insects.

I participated in the hygiene campaign and we used to always shout out loud the phrase “I’m proud that I wash my hands with soap and water”. They taught us how to work together in cleaning our neighborhood.So I participated with my neighbors in cleaning it and they gave us brooms, shovels, and bags to collect garbage. We learned that accumulated garbage causes diseases and attracts bacteria. Now I teach my brothers at home everything that I learned from the campaign and I make them wash their hands with soap and water to prevent catching diseases.
I am so happy that I participated in this campaign and that I learned so much about hygiene. This is the first time that we all gather to clean our neighborhood.Now the nearby neighborhoods have started to do the same after they saw how successful this activity was for us. It is my right to live in a clean environment”.

Message from Ghada, 35, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee Member
“This is the first time for me to contribute in serving my community and feeling that I am making a change. We [the committee members and volunteers] learned how to raise awareness and do some activities with the people in our neighborhoods to encourage them to clean and maintain a healthy and clean environment. The first step we took is that we visited the houses in our neighborhood and introduced them to the campaign and told them what they have to do in cleaning the neighborhood. Then we gave out cleaning equipment and decided on a day for everyone to go out and help each other in cleaning the street and collecting the garbage.
We received really good reactions and the campaign became so popular that even the nearby neighborhoods started doing their own cleaning campaigns. And now it has started to become a habit for the people to clean their neighborhood”.

Message from Medyan, 50, Committee Head
“We used to suffer in our neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods from scarcity of water especially since our governorate, Lahj, is one of the hottest places in Yemen and so people use huge amounts of water for drinking, bathing, and other uses. The organization’s interaction with the people was great; they have done many awareness sessions about the use of water and keeping a healthy environment. They [Save the Children] have installed a water tank in my neighborhood which is great for my people but the only problem is that now people from other neighborhoods have started to come and use water from this tank. I hope that the organization can provide us with a solution to provide larger amounts of water so that it’s enough for everyone”.

Lahj governorate is severely affected by poor water and sanitation, as 29.8 percent of the population do not have access to safe water sources and 61.7% do not have access to improved sanitation, with most areas falling far below Sphere standard measures of water and sanitation access and coverage.
With the support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Save the Children is working in two districts (Al-Hota and Tuban) in the Lahj governorate. The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene activities provided support throughout the districts by rehabilitating latrines and communal water points and various hygiene promotion activities (committee training, awareness sessions, cleaning campaigns, etc).

In the last three months, Save the Children was able to achieve the following: rehabilitation of 61 latrines, rehabilitation of 10 communal water points, trained 44 WASH committee members and 11 community workers (volunteers), conducted awareness sessions on key hygiene messages for a total of 425 people. And the Organization also successfully launched two community based hygiene campaigns.

Written by: Hind Al-Eryani and Claire Donohue
Photo by: Saleh Awadh

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

14 year old Aisha, a mother of five children

Aisha who has just turned 14 years old is now a mother to her five other siblings after both her parents passed away. Aisha and her siblings, 10 year old Fatima, 9 year old Yahya, 7 year old Tahya, 4 year old Haddya, and 2 year old Resala, live in Alzawager in Haitha district in Amran governorate.

         Aisha holds her baby sister Resala and is surrounded by her siblings Yahya, Tahya, and Haddya.

“My name is Aisha. I don’t know how old I am, but they say that I’m 4 years older than my sister Fatima. I am the eldest of five children who are all under my care after our parents passed away. With no hospital nearby, my mother bled to death while giving birth to my 2 year old sister, Resala.”

The family failed to save Aisha’s mother during delivery since there is no medical care available at their area. They had two choices, either take her to the hospital in Khamir (a town that is an hour away by car), or to just give up. The latter was the choice they were forced to take, as they could not afford to rent a car to move the mother to the neighboring town.

But unfortunately this was not the only tragedy that Aisha and her siblings had to endure. “When my mother passed away she followed my father who also passed a few months before her after he fell really ill.”

With the death of both her parents, Aisha found herself not only a mother but also a father to five children. "After my mother passed away, I would go to those people who have sheep or cows looking for milk to feed my baby sister and sometimes I would go to neighboring villages… Today my sister fell ill, I don’t know what’s wrong with her but she’s not moving and she has strong fever”, Aisha cried as she expressed her concerns about her sister’s health . She is trying to be patient while waiting for Save the Children’s Medical team that visits the area every two weeks.

Aisha is one of the beneficiaries of the food security program funded by USAID. She receives a monthly voucher with the amount of 10,700 YER and then exchanges it for food items at Save the Children’s specific sale points. We met her at the market where she collected her food items (oil, flour, tea, sugar, beans, tomato sauce, etc) and then followed her back home. Her two sisters greeted us happily at the door, excited about the food that she brought with her. “These are Tahya and Haddya,” said Aisha introducing them to us, “Fatima is helping my uncle around his house and Yahya will be back from school shortly.”
Aisha collecting her items from the market in Haitha, Amran.

The 14 year old girl tries her best to provide a living for her and her siblings.  It is very hard to do when there’s no adult to take care of them. “My uncle tries his best to help us but he himself is in a bad financial situation like everyone else in this village. Most people go away to other villages and ask the villagers there if they can live in their homes or work for them for money. Others go to fight in wars between tribes and mostly end up dying… I try to work in other homes in exchange for some flour or milk and sometimes I go to the mountains and collect firewood. Firewood brings very little money when sold but it’s better than nothing.”

This food voucher program has been operating in Alzawager for three months, targeting as many families as possible, including Aisha’s. The villagers there sometimes go for days just eating some bread and milk. “We usually eat bread and milk or water, and sometimes when there’s no bread we would eat Halas (a certain type of tree) by boiling it in water first then eating it. We even eat just one meal a day at times.”

While we were talking to Aisha, her brother Yahya came back from school. We noticed he was using a rice bag as his school bag. “My name is Yahya, I’m 9 years old and I study in the 3rd grade now. I love learning! And I wish to own a school bag, books, and pencils. I help my sister Aisha whenever I can in collecting wood or water from the valley. I’m very happy that Aisha brought back food today! It means that we will have lunch and dinner too and won’t sleep on empty stomachs like yesterday.”

Aisha and her siblings’ happiness for the support from this Save the Children program is hard to describe. It has helped them buy things they never thought they could afford. Now, Aisha only dreams to find a way to earn money and make a living.



الطفلة عائشة...أم لخمسة اطفال

فاطمة 10 سنوات، يحيى 9 سنوات، تحيى 7 سنوات، هديه 4 سنوات والطفلة الصغيرة رسالة عامان. والأم طفلة سادسة اسمها عائشة لم يتعدى عمرها 14 عاماً يعيشون في منطقة الزواقر مديرية حيثه - محافظة عمران وهذه هي الحكاية على لسان عائشة نفسها.
                                   عائشة مع أخواتها وأخيها
" اسمي عائشة لا أعلم كم عمري ولكنهم يقولون أني أكبر من أختي فاطمة بأربعة أعوام تقريباً. أعيش مع أخوتي و أنا الأخت الكبرى لخمسة أخوان لقد أصبحت أمهم بعد أن توفيت أمي. توفيت والدتي قبل عامين أثناء ولادتها بأختي الصغيرة رسالة، ماتت وهي تنزف ولم يستطيعوا إنقاذها".
عجزت أسرة عائشة عن إنقاذ الأم من الموت بسبب النزيف الحاد فليس في القرية طبيبة والمركز الصحي لايوجد فيه دكاتره، وكان أمامهم اختيارين إما إسعافها إلى مدينة (خَمِر) وهي أقرب المدن إليهم- تبعد حوالي ساعة بالسيارة- أو انتظار الموت. ولأن الخيار الأول مستبعد نتيجة فقر الأسرة وارتفاع إيجار السيارة التي ستنقلها فقد كان الخيار الثاني هو الوحيد.
وللمأساة فصول أخرى، تقول عائشة:
"ماتت والدتي ولحقت والدي الذي كان قد توفي قبلها،  فقد مرض ولم يستطيعوا أيضاً نقله للمستشفى".
وبوفاة الأم وجدت عائشة ابنة ال14ربيعاً نفسها ليس أماً فقط لخمسة أطفال دون العاشرة بل وأيضا أب في الوقت ذاته.
" بعد ان توفت والدتي كنت اذهب لمن لديهم أغنام أو أبقار لأبحث لأختي حليب كي ترضع وكنت أحياناً أذهب لقرى مجاوره. واليوم أختي رسالة مريضة لا أعلم ماذا بها من الصباح وهي لا تتحرك وعندها حمى قوية"..
ذرفت الدموع وهي تحدثنا عن مخاوفها من أن تموت أختها الصغيرة قبل أن يصل إلى قريتهم الفريق الطبي المرسل من منظمة رعاية الأطفال والذي يزور القرية كل أسبوعين، وبالطبع لا يتوفر للأم الصغيرة المال لإسعافها وشراء دواء.
                                    عائشة تستلم المواد الغذائية من المتجر
كانت الشمس في منتصف السماء عندما وصلنا منزل عائشة، والتي استقبلتها اختيها الصغيرتين تحيا وهديه بلهفه وطول انتظار لما ستحضره من طعام.
" هذه تحيا وهدية وفاطمة ذهبت لتساعد بنت عمي، ويحيى الان سيعود من المدرسة. الان سأبدأ تجهيز الغداء لأني لم استطع العوده إلا بعد أن استلمت القسيمه ثم ذهبت لدكان اللذي تم الاتفاق معه  واعطيتهم القسيمة واخذت بها مصروف للبيت."
كنا قد ذهبنا مع عائشة عندما ذهبت لاستلام قسيمة الشراء التي تعطى لهم شهرياً ولمدة ستة اشهر بمبلغ 10800 ريال، ثم اصطحبناها للمتجر( نقاط البيع) الذي تم التعاقد معه لتشتري بالمبلغ مواد غذائية.
" اشتريت دقيق، صليط(زيت طبخ)، سمن، مريسي(سكر)، شاهي، رز، فول، فاصوليا وصلصة. كان نفسي اشتري بسكوت لاخوتي لكن المبلغ لم يكفي إلا للضروريات."
عائشة ذات الأربعة عشر ربيع في الوقت اللذي تستمتع منهن في سنها باللعب والتمتع بأصناف الطعام والحلوى، والذهاب للمدرسة اصبحت بين ليله وضحاها ربة بيت ومسئولة عن أخوتها، تسعى جاهده لتوفير لقمة العيش بمختلف الطرق ليس معها إلا الله وعملها وبعض المساعدات من فترة لاخرى.
" عمي يحاول يساعدنا لكن هو بنفسه حالته الماديه صعبه ومعظم اهل المنطقة حالتهم صعبه، اغلبهم يشتغلوا عند الناس أو يذهبوا للحرب بحث على بعض المال في المقابل  وأغلبهم يموتوا. انا بدأت احاول ابحث عن عمل عند الناس بمقابل بعض الطحين أو اللبن. واحيان اذهب للجبال لجمع الحطب وبيعها، اجمعها في اربعة او خمسة ايام وابيعها ب 2000 او 3000 ريال المبلغ قليل لايكفي احتياجاتنا لكن احسن من لاشيئ."
  هذه المره الثانه لاستلام القسائم الخاصة بمشروع الامن الغذائي في المنطقة، والذي جاء كالمنقذ لمعظم الاسر ومنظمنهم اسرة عائشة التي قد تمر عليهم ايام لا يتناولون إلا وجبه واحده من قطع الخبز وبعض اللبن إن توفر.
"من قبل كان أكلنا القرم( الخبز) وبعض اللبن وإن لم يوجد اللبن ناكل الخبز مع الماء، واحيان كثيره نأكله بدون شي. وإن لم يوجد الخبز نجمع بعض اوراق الحلص( نوع من انواع الاشجار) وأغليه مع الماء ثم نأكله.وفي أحيان ننام بدون عشاء او نأكل وجبه واحده فقط في اليوم."
وبينما كنا نتكلم وصل يحيى من المدرسة يحمل على ظهره حقيبة المدرسة وهي عبارة عن كيس من أكياس الأرز استخدمه كحقيبه مدرسيه وانتقلنا بالحديث إلى يحيى
" اسمي يحيى عمري 9 سنوات، ادرس في الصف الثالث، أحب اتعلم ونفسي يكون عندي شنطة مدرسة ودفاتر وأقلام. بساعد أختي عائشة في البيت أحضر الماء من الساقيه، واحيان اجمع معها الحطب. اليوم انا فرحان لأن اختي عائشة استلمت المصاريف وبتطبخ لنا رز وفول للغداء. واليوم بنتعشا لان امس ماكن عندنا شي ،شربنا ماء ونمنا بدون عشاء، نفسي بطاط احب اكله مع الخبز."
لا يمكن وصف سعادة عائشة لحصولها على هذا الدعم الذي ساعدها كثير ووفر لها  اشياء لم تكن تستطع توفيرها. وكان كل ماتتمناه ان تحصل على دعم تستطيع منه كسب المال الذي لا يجعلها تحتاج طلب المساعده من أحد .
ودعتنا عائشة بوجه مبتسم وبدأت بالاستعداد لتجهيز الغداء لأخوانها الصغار. هذه هي حكاية عائشهه الطفلة الأم شاهدناها وسمعناها وعشناها. قد نكون ودعناها ورحلنا من تلك المنطقة التي قد نعود إليها وقد لانعود، ولكن عائشة أصبحت جزء من ذاكرتنا التي ستبقى وستظل إلهام لنا ودعوة للجميع للسعي دون كلل أو ملل لتقديم يد العون لمن يعانون من أهلنا في بلدنا الحبيب اليمن.