The organisation SERVE runs a community health education programme for women in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Female health workers train young women and mothers in preventative health education through home-based clubs in the villages. Most of these women cannot read and have little access to education. Literacy lessons are therefore provided alongside the health education, to enable the women to access written health information, find their way around a hospital and read the instructions provided with medicine.
Masuda attended one of these clubs. She describes her experience:
When the club teacher came to my house to find students for the health club, she explained to me about the programme. I decided this was a good opportunity for women so I decided to participate in the class. A few days later the class started and I attended lessons. But unfortunately when my husband saw that there was no financial support provided, unlike other NGO programmes which give out food items, money and so on, he started arguing. He said, “Don’t go to the health classes. What is the benefit of these lessons for us? Why are you wasting your time instead of being at home to take care of your responsibilities properly?” It was really hard for me to explain to him about how important these things are. Anyway, despite all the problems, I continued attending the class.
One day when I came back from class, my little child had a high fever and was very irritable. My husband was very angry with me and he was blaming me that I hadn’t taken care of my child properly. Fortunately one week before this, I attended a lesson about fever and I already knew what to do with a person who has a fever. Immediately I followed the instructions that I had received in my lesson and after a few hours, my child got better. When my husband came to take our child to the doctor he found he was already better. He asked me: “What did you do with him?” I explained to my husband what I did. Now he is satisfied with me.’
Mark Larson is Donor Relations Coordinator for SERVE.
SERVE PO Box 4015, Karte Char Kabul, Afghanistan