The Healers of Sheena Village
Bamyan, Afghanistan, 12 July 2020 – At Sheena, a village in Shah Foladi district of Bamyan, farmers plough their fields, seed and plant their crops from dawn to dusk. The yield will help them and their families to survive the harsh winters of Bamyan in the central highlands of Afghanistan.
Uzra 30 years old lives and works with her husband Mohammad Nabi 45-year-old farmer owning a small piece of land in Sheena village. They work hard to earn a living to feed the family of four throughout the year.
Uzra remembers facing hardship all her life and always not having enough. But not being able to have a full belly has not disheartened her as much as when her children fall sick.
“I put my hand under my chin, moving backward and forward, as I look at my children growling with pain,” says Uzra. “I can do nothing but pat them gently and sing lullabies to put them to sleep.”
The closest clinic Shah Foladi Comprehensive Health Center (CHC), is more than one hour away from Uzra’s village. Often times during off season, on a daily basis Nabi makes only 100AFN (1.50USD), and cannot rent a motorbike from his neighbours to drive his children to clinic.
“My life is bound to the land, when there are no crops of produce to harvest, I have to work for daily wages, which is not enough and we can hardly survive,” Nabii sighs. “Providing medical care to the children becomes even a bigger challenge than filling our stomachs.”
Many of the children start having diarrhea as the weather gets warmer in Bamyan. Locals call this the diarrhea season, and mothers start to have sleepless nights tending to their children.
“My two daughters, Basira, 4 and Sajeda, 3 got very sick, they became very weak suffering from diarrhea,” says Uzra with visible scare in her eyes. “The children would have been lost, if it wasn’t for my neighbour Hamkima, who helped save my precious ones.”
For the last five years, Hakima has been working as a Community Health Worker (CHW) at the village. She heard about her neighbour’s children being sick and tried to assist.
“We are trained in providing families and children with ORS/Zinc co-packs which are very important for treatment of childhood diarrhea,” says Hakima. CHWs reach villages in the most remote parts of the central highlands. “Mothers don’t know about the ORS/Zinc pack, or how to prepare them, it is our duty to guide them and advise them on how to treat their children suffering from diarrhea,” adds Hakima.
Hakima assessed Basira and Sajeda for diarrhea and found they need ORS and Zinc. Hakima provided Uzra with two co-packs of ORS/Zinc and taught her how to prepare them and give it to the children for at least 10 days.
On a follow up visit, Hakima found that the two children are in a better state of health. She cautioned Uzra to continue preparing and administering the treatment until the children completely recover.
“Hakima carried out several home visits to check on my children, until they fully recovered,” says Uzra with delight.
With the generous contribution from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UNICEF is able to training community health workers, and supply ORS/Zinc co-packs. These packs are available to all the communities in the country, helping millions of children like Basira and Sajida to recover from diarrhea.