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18 April 2024 - News

Rebuilding Lives: Community Facilitator Support Hygiene Promotion and Build Resilience in Earthquake-Hit Jajarkot

Pratiksha (24) knows the pain of loss all too well. The November 3 earthquake that hit Jajarkot and Rukum West shattered homes, took away loved ones, and disrupted the sense of normalcy they once had. Despite her loss, she is determined to help her community heal. She works as a facilitator for hygiene awareness sessions organized under the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) project, implemented by Save the Children and Pach Tara Yuwa Samrakhshak Manch (PTYSM). As a facilitator, she informs and educates the most impacted communities about the importance of good personal hygiene and a clean environment.

Pratiksha shares that she understands the challenges and uncertainty faced by the people of earthquake impacted Jajarkot. She says, "People are aware of hygiene and the things we teach them, but when you're struggling to provide two meals a day for your family, hygiene takes a back seat." However, the hygiene materials provided to the participants after each session help them implement knowledge into practice. Each participant receives a package of hygiene materials, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, and cleaning products worth 15,000 Nepali Rupees (Rs.; approximately $115).

These sessions also serve as a safe space for the most impacted communities to come together, share stories and feelings, and grieve together. "Rather than limiting the space to hygiene knowledge and promotion, people gather around and share stories of loss and challenges, finding solace and comfort in each other's company," explains Pratiksha. "These hygiene sessions have also helped people reconnect and cope with uncertainty and challenges."

Pratiksha, who leads the menstrual hygiene management session, emphasizes the struggles of women in the village. She shares, "Many people lost everything during the earthquake, and they don't even have plain cotton clothes to use as pads during menstruation, and sanitary pads are expensive." She adds, "That's why as we educate them on taking care of themselves during their periods and discuss safe and hygienic ways of maintaining hygiene, we also provide them with sanitary pads. This assistance has brought relief to many girls and women." As part of the menstrual hygiene session, Pratiksha also facilitates conversations related to myths, taboos, and harmful social norms surrounding menstruation.

"Menstruation is still considered a taboo subject, and during these sessions, we try to jointly deconstruct and challenge stereotypes, empowering women with evidence and knowledge to take control of their bodies and not fear periods, as it is a natural process." The project extends its support beyond hygiene education. Participants also receive a cash voucher of Rs. 15,000 for winterization assistance.

"We need to be hopeful," shares Pratiksha. "I lost a lot during the earthquake, as did many of my friends and family members in the community. So, we need to do everything in our power to help each other stand up, move on, and build our future together."