Good hygiene is the best medicine against bacteria

When Zarifah had to flee her village, there was no money for medicine and doctor’s visits when the children were sick. Mission East gave her a chance to improve her own and her family's health.

Zarifah is the mother of three and lives in a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the northern province of Badakhshan in Afghanistan.

Zarifah was forced to flee her home district as the situation became too dangerous for the family. Her husband is the only one in the family who has a job, but since it is only causal, it is extremely difficult for the family to survive.

Sometimes bread and salty tea is the only items on the menu for days, and the family often has to skip a meal. The situation is especially difficult in the harsh winter months. 

Previously, the children often got sick with preventable deceases such as diarrhea, dysentery and malaria. And at this time

Zarifah would be even more worried: "I could not take my children to the doctor because we did not have enough money. Everything my husband earned, we had to spend on food, so we could not afford medical costs. I was always worried about my children's future. "

Health training
When Mission East came to the camp, the residents were provided with items like blankets, plastic sheets, charcoal for fuel, and hygiene kits. Mission East also provided training in good hygiene, and as better hygiene means less illness, especially for children, this was of paramount importance to the lives of the residents.

Zarifah was one of the women who were offered trainings in hygiene and health.

”In the training I learned about better hygiene, and that has improved my life. I have learned that food should be washed before being cooked, that cooked and raw foods should be kept separate, that hands should be washed before and after eating, before feeding young children, and after you have used the toilet. I now understand that hygiene is the best 'medicine’ or 'treatment' against bacteria," says Zarifah .

Helping others
It is clear to Zarifah that her life has changed for the better. "My kids are almost never sick anymore and it makes me really happy! I never thought that could be possible," she says.

But Zarifah is not satisfied that only her children are now healthier. Her passion is to share this experience and new knowledge of good hygiene and health with others. "I want to pass on what I've learned to other villages to protect other families from diseases as well," she said

Mission East in Afghanistan

In northern Afghanistan the fighting between government troops and local insurgent groups is raising. This means that innocent civilians get stuck in the middle and are forced to flee to safer areas, until their home areas are peaceful again. Most have to leave all their belongings, livestock and fields behind.

Apart from basic hygiene training, Mission East assists these people with aid packages in terms of money for food, kitchen equipment, basic hygiene kits, treatment for diarrhea, plankets, plastic sheets and tents. In the winter charcoal is also provided. 

Direct distribution of food items is most often arranged by the UN World Food Programme.