HUSNA KARIM –– The Hygiene Champion

Introduction:
Lack of hygiene and open defecation is the root cause of many problems faced by people living in rural areas. The HANDS Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Department has identified that the solution to this problem lies in creating awareness and bringing about behavioral change. Husna is one of the women in rural areas of Pakistan that have benefitted from our WASH initiative and is, in turn, helping her community.

Case:

I am Husna from Islampur, Larkana Sindh and I am a proud member of the HANDS WASH Committee. As a mother of 9 children, I have always worried about the health and welfare of my children and luckily for me, HANDS team came in a few years ago. They carried out a PRA (Participatory Rural Assessment) and analyzed that the main issue affecting our village was that of the unhygienic conditions due to open defecation. The HANDS team explained to us that the diseases that our people were suffering from, and the abject poverty we faced, was due to the germs in the environment caused by human waste not being disposed of properly.

The CRP (Community Resource Person) sessions held by the HANDS team were an eye-opener, and some of our community members built washrooms. We immediately noticed that the health of our people was improving due to this development. Initially, my daughters used to go to the neighbors’ homes to use the bathroom, but this was not a comfortable arrangement.
It occurred to me to use the gold I got for my dowry, because it was just lying there, when in fact, I could use it to make my family’s life better. I sold the gold from which we renovated our house and made washrooms. Using some of the money I had also set up a small kiosk selling vegetables and other grocery items.
At 65 years of age, I am a matriarch of my family and am well-respected in the community, which is why HANDS chose me to create awareness. At the store, I make it a point to tell my customers to wash the vegetables properly and also to take care of hygiene. I am grateful to HANDS because they have helped improve not only my family’s lives, but have also motivated me to help the community get better.