“Lana and I stood at the door of a wooden hut chatting with the mother of the house about their living conditions,” shares Hal Jones, GHNI President. He and his wife, Lana, had just returned from visiting BT Village in Nepal with horrific stories about these women’s hygiene conditions. He continued, “She explained to Lana that all the women in the village must stay in a shed next to the house when they have their monthly period, since they are ‘unclean’ and have no sanitary napkins.”
This is not an uncommon scenario amongst the rural villages with whom we work. In fact, women who are able to find work risk their jobs due to high rates of absenteeism during their menstrual cycle.
Girls reaching puberty often drop out
of school because of poor attendance.
All of this is due to lack of proper hygiene during menstruation.
“Another woman explained that she has never used a pit latrine because the village has none, so at night she must go into the forest near the home to relieve herself. She explained there are tigers active in the forest and she is afraid,” said Hal Jones of his recent visit to Nepal. In fact, one in three women worldwide risk shame, disease, harassment, and even attack because they do not have a toilet. These same women can spend up to 97 billion hours each year looking for somewhere to relieve themselves.
Additionally, bathing had been a problem for the women in BT Village due to lack of water access. Fortunately villagers have solved the water problem with the recent construction of a well in their village. The next step will be to teach the villagers about proper sanitation and hygiene.
Celebrate the last days of Christmas in July with us by giving women their life back…
Provide Feminine Hygiene Kits to women in rural villages!
Content was provided by Swiss-based GHNI Geneva, the operational seat of GHNI’s international field programming.
News Alert: Refugees From Mosul, Iraq, Facing Starvation
Iraq Victims of Isis
Christian and Shi ite families, residents of Mosul, recently had their lives shattered as Isis, the terrorist break off from Al Qaida, took over their city. We have families living in horrible conditions with no funds even for food. $25 covers basic food for a week for a family. $50 allows us also to provide some toiletries and a few more items. They are desperate. You can help:
Section One: Feature Article of the Month
With many of the current episodes of armed conflict taking place in predominantly Muslim countries, IRIN is currently running a series of four articles which examine the points of correspondence and differences between Islamic doctrine and international humanitarian law. The series has the following titles:
It is impossible to do justice to the full series in this short summary, but a few key points can be extracted. Among these are that there is no single authoritative text that lays out the rules of war.
In the first title above, it is explained that there are three main sources for Islamic scholars: the holy book, the Koran itself; the hadiths, or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad; and the military conduct of the Caliphs or temporal rulers of Muslim lands. To some extent, these sources contradict one another, which leaves the field wide open to divergent interpretations of what is and what is not permissible.
There is a considerable correspondence between the basic injunctions of Islam and modern international humanitarian law in the areas of protection of civilians, treatment of prisoners, and avoidance of destruction of civilian property. The basic principle appears to be that the harm caused by war should be limited to that necessary to achieve the military objective. One quotation from the Koran is:
“Fight in the way of Allah those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits; surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.”
Yet there is also a doctrine of defensive war which relaxes the limitations on conduct, and, as applied to situations such as the conflicts in Afghanistan or Somalia, where foreign non-Muslim forces are fighting on what is considered Muslim land, enlarges the definition of legitimate targets far beyond the Geneva conventions. Thus, the Taliban define combatants as not only those who bear arms but as anybody who takes employment with or who aids the invading forces. Even in such cases, the Taliban and al Qaeda take their stand on principles (they just locate them at a different point) and deplore the behaviour of extremists who take life indiscriminately.
Humanitarian agencies often seek to understand Islamic law in order to negotiate access in conflict affected areas, and find some hope in the concept of “aman” or safe conduct, which may be extended by fighters to humanitarian workers. But experienced negotiators caution that before relying on such pledges, it is necessary to know who is giving the pledge and the geographic extent of their control. In the same vein of caution, they point out that not all fighters are even aware of Islamic principles in the conduct of war.
Section One: Focus Countries
Tree Planting For Profit Program Now Impacting Many
In Kabul Province, GHNI signed contracts with 3 new farmers who were each given 8,000 cuttings. Next year, GHNI will buy back one set of cuttings from the farmers, and will also be given one set as a way to pay back the loan of the cuttings. In this way, the farmers can earn income from the trees and also pay back this year’s loan.
From our team working in GHNI Afghanistan:
“In Bamyan Province, 11 farmers received cuttings, each of different amounts. These are on loan only and next year they will return to GHNI the same number of cuttings they received, but can sell or use the remaining cuttings they obtain from the trees.”
Launching Good Nutrition in Saneba Village
A short term team from Australia was able to use their expertise and experience in a culturally appropriate way by teaching essential and transferable principles on good nutritional practices as well as practical demonstrations. One team member was teaching the community how to make their own ‘bag garden’ to grow a variety of vegetables. This is a simple, economical solution requiring small amounts of water that will help provide much-needed nutritional balance in the lives of the villagers.
There was a time when Burma had one of the highest rates of leprosy prevalence in the world. Thanks to a sustained campaign by national authorities, in 2003 the country achieved “elimination” of leprosy as a public health issue, a level defined by the World Health Organisation as less than 1 case per 10,000 people. Community health is the centerpiece of our Transformational Community Development (TCD) training in rural villages.
Our partner reports:
“We conducted TCD training at Paletwa Town, Southern Chin State, Myanmar in March. 30 workers from different villages attended. They all agreed to put into practice what they have learnt at the training to their respective villages/local churches. We all are thrilled and believe that this program will be largely benefited by the village communities. We have raised funds through TCD program at Yatkha Ward, Paletwa Town. As a result, a well was repaired. That well was finished on April 7, 2014. As a second step, we are planning to make pavement to the bathroom with cement.”
Character Lessons Impact Families Living in Midst of Violence
Our GHNI team in Ezbit el Nakhl Village writes:
“Recently there was a big fight in the region between people. One man was killed and many people injured. We hold out hope for these people and wish peace for them.
“In the meantime, children prepare for school exams. We wish the best for them. We can see clearly many changes in the life of the children. We are thankful for that.
“Recently, we presented moral lesson about honesty under title ‘Be Honest.’ We also presented lesson about mercy under title ‘Be Merciful.’ We also teaching them Math, English and Arabic. We presented lesson about work hard in your life under title ‘You Will Succeed if You Work Hard.’ We presented lesson about ‘Help Your Friends.’
“Every child in our institution participated what he learned from lessons and how to make a good effect in the community to bring change. Every time we encourage children with biscuits and sweets.”
Family’s Livelihood Renewed
Our GHNI team in Ethiopia writes:
“Mohamed and his wife and their four children live in Garmaam Village. Mohamed was among the first people to understand what we were trying to teach when we started working in his village. Life was very difficult for Mohamed and his wife to raise their children. He did not have nearly enough income to feed and educate their children. His income was dependent on his cattle and when drought happened, many times he lost them.
“When he first met our Transformational Community Development (TCD) workers, he was encouraged by the ideas the workers explained. He immediately felt his future could be brighter and that he could change his and his family’s lives. After Mohamed learned agricultural methods, he started farming with a TCD group. He planted many different vegetables for his family to eat and also to sell in the market. Two months ago Mohamed made 6,400 Birr ($330) from one harvest. He is very happy and he has plans to expand his field to generate even more income!”
Women and Children Lead the Way Out of Rural Poverty
Our GHNI-India team writes:
“Transformational Community Development (TCD) in Jatapara Village is going well. The men of the village are most of the time out, working in the city. Unfortunately, whenever they are in village, they are drunk. They will not be in a condition to talk to them. But women of the village have caught the vision and they are initiating to bring a change in the village.
“Women had taken initiative to form an income generation committee. They are contributing small amount per month to develop a central fund. This fund will be used for giving micro loan for income generation project.
“Education project is also going well. Other than the lessons before school time, they are learning other skills like dance, music, drama etc.”
A Model Agricultural Pilot Starts to Multiply
“Now I believe that it’s still possible to grow cocoa in our village!”
These are the words said by one of the farmers joining the program, Pak Sabaruddin near Sendana. By seeing successful cocoa farmers in a place where the climate conditions were the same as those in his own village, Pak Sabaruddin received a new hope and has since been one of the hardest working farmers in the village.
In the past two months we have seen the farmers from the group joining the program become more and more confident about what they are doing. These new farmers are asking advice and expressing the desire to visit the plantations where grafting has been successful. The farmers joining the program from the beginning are starting to understand how much knowledge and experience they have learned the past year and are ready now to share with the people who know less than them.
Hope for Improved TB Diagnostics for Children
An article in the New England Journal of Medicine holds the hope of improved diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in children. Researchers examining children from Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa examined genes in the blood of infected children that were either activated or suppressed, and thereby identified a “signature” that could be used to predict the presence of TB with over 80% accuracy. The hope is this knowledge could rapidly be used to formulate a diagnostic test for use in field conditions.
Rural Poverty is the Most Neglected
IRIN is carrying a news report about the urban/rural divide in access to WASH (water supply, sanitation, and hygiene services) in Laos. Whereas in urban areas in 2012, 88% of residents had access to improved water supply and 91% to improved sanitation, in rural areas the corresponding figures were 64% and 48%. Inadequate WASH services are associated with high rates of diarrheal disease and continuing high infant mortality.
Water Supply Threatens Livelihood
A story that appeared in IRIN starts out on the hardships faced by farmers but morphs into an account of the problems of water supply. The common thread is the low rainfall which Lebanon has received over the last year, which some fear is becoming a permanent trend. Even if the current drought should be short-lived, the problem of water mismanagement is long-standing. It is estimated that half the water collected is lost due to leakage from broken pipes and wastage.
GHNI is working both in refugee camps and poor villages to help the locals solve these issues.
Women’s Wellness, the Story of a Trafficked Young Business Woman
Excerpt from a story told by our GHNI Nepal staff during a lesson:
“…After 2 months, a regular customer proposed Meena to marry with him. She did not answer him but her friend who was part of the staff of Casino suggests her to marry with him. She got married and when she became pregnant, her husband and her ‘broker’ Uncle sold her in Prostitution Centre. And not only that, but her sister Sheela was also sold in the same place. But Sheela’s boy friend came with the rescue team and they rescued the two sisters.”
Our village worker reports: “This month I have been working in 3 villages and taught lessons on Slavery Prevention in 2 of them. Also, taught Health Education Class, many of which are related to Slavery Prevention.”
Polio and Measles on the Rise
The last few years have not only seen resurgence of wild polio cases in countries from which it had been almost completely or fully eradicated, but also the murders of vaccinators by Islamic extremists. In the light of this recent history, it was no surprise to learn that another disease preventable by immunisation, measles, is also on the rise in Pakistan, with over 300 deaths in each of 2012 and 2013.
However, an article by IRIN points the finger at other factors to explain the low and declining immunisation coverage rate (down to 54% according to the 2013 Demographic and Health Survey). Mismanagement and corruption are implicated as major factors undermining public health efforts, with a widespread absence of commitment to serve the general public.
Palestine’s Looming Water Crisis Continues
The dry winter throughout the Middle East has also thrown into stark relief the water supply situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and particularly Gaza, according to an IRIN news report. The shortage of water is so bad that more than 30% of Gaza households receive water for only 6-8 hours every four days.
The shortage of water is driven partly by a shortage of power to operate pumps, and partly by the depletion of the coastal aquifer which is the main source of supply in the absence of permanent rivers in Gaza. Due to the absence of any coordination between Israel and Gaza, both sides are over-depleting the coastal aquifer, with the result that a UN report predicts the coastal aquifer will be unusable by 2016 and beyond repair by 2020.
This is a growing crisis with no obvious solution in sight.
Seeking Safety for Women and Children
One in 16 women in Somalia is likely to die of childbirth related conditions, while fifteen percent of children born will not see their fifth birthday. Sexual violence is commonplace, to the point that a Human Rights Watch spokeswoman declared “rape is an everyday fact of life for many women and girls in Mogadishu”.
Nor are women safe in IDP camps, indeed, as reported last month in IRIN, women living in camps are particularly vulnerable. In the absence of any law enforcement, perpetrators enjoy complete immunity from the consequences of these crimes.
GHNI has been working in villages with partners for several years, seeking to help these women.
Hope in their Eyes
Our GHNI-Jordan team writes:
“This past month we have had two Partner Teams come through and work with the Syrian families in Jordan. They have brought hope and visited over a hundred families. They along with us were able to sit with them and listen as the families opened up and shared about their struggles and pain. The food boxes are a bridge to the families. This is how we view progress here as the families continue to come and there is no definitive way to map out progress. The hope in their eyes is our progress.
“The plan with the Syrian Crisis is to continue to search and find new families, partner with these Syrian people, and try and create Transformational Community Development (TCD) and Vocational Training Projects for them. Our plan is to help them become stable in this new community that they find themselves in and to help them find hope. We are looking for creative ways to help the Syrian families in Jordan and are constantly in contact with them.”
News Behind the News content was provided by Swiss-based GHNI Geneva, the operational seat of GHNI’s international field programming.
We welcome comments to Field.Reports@ghni.org