UNICEF distributes hygiene kits to families affected by earthquake
By Kitty Logan
BAGH, Pakistan, 19 November 2005 – Like millions of others, Shaheen Bibi’s home was destroyed by October’s earthquake. Living with her children and grandchildren in a relief camp, she finds coping with everyday life a big challenge.
“I used to have plenty of things,” she says. “God gave us everything - I had buffalo, cows and goats, but now it is all under the rubble. We didn’t need any help from anyone. Now what should I do?”
Poor living conditions in the crowded camps have sparked concern of a possible disease outbreak. To improve the hygiene conditions around the camps, UNICEF, along with partner Islamic Relief, is giving out bags filled with items such as soap, toothbrushes and towels to displaced people like Bibi.
“These are the services we are providing to each family for a better hygiene condition in the tents, so there shouldn’t be any outbreak of epidemic,” says UNICEF staff member Bilal Akhbar who oversees the distribution.
Working with teams of local “boy scouts,” UNICEF has distributed some 35,000 hygiene kits to families affected by the earthquake and is teaching people who once lived in isolated villages how to improve their hygiene habits. The agency is handing out leaflets and posters contain basic information such as proper use of latrines and washing hands.
Without much persuading, parents and children have quickly learnt to keep themselves clean by washing their hands and brushing their teeth. The small improvement not only brings a sense of normalcy back to their daily lives, but also protects them from any potential outbreaks of disease.