A Journey from Despair to Delight

Australian Red Cross (ARC) | Jenni Lillingston from Australian Red Cross (ARC) Bangladesh, on 28/08/2017 13:26 AEST

Shefali Rani, a mother of two living in Paddmapurkur village Bangladesh, used to spend much of her time caring for family members suffering from water-borne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and dysentery. Poor awareness of good hygiene, coupled with open defecation was the main causes of the spread of these diseases. “The diseases and treatment costs kept us in tremendous pressure to survive" explained Shefali.

The situation changed when the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society started the Community Development Initiative (CDI) 2 WASH project, funded through CS-WASH. This project included participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation sessions and household follow up visits, subsidized installation of 140 latrines for ultra poor households and 35 tube wells. Together, these interventions have enabled good personal hygiene practices to be adopted by all 420 families within the community.

After being involved in these community information workshops, Shefali’s family were motivated to stop open defecation and build a sanitary latrine. They also learnt handwashing and teeth-brushing techniques, and valuable tips on decreasing iron from drinking water. The result was a happy and healthy family “it wasn’t easy turning knowledge into habits,” said Shefali, “we have regular conversations among family members and neighbours to ensure that everyone continues these good hygiene practices. Now we have time to focus on increasing our household income and my children can attend school every day.” 

After joining different activities under the CDI2 WASH initiative, Shefali has also become an active member of the Imadpur Union Parishad WASH committee. Her work includes educating and encouraging other community members to practice good hygiene habits and monitoring results. “It is an empowering role,” said Shefali, noting that her status within the community had also increased.

It brings me closer to the community, and it is good to see that most of the people living here have changed their old habits” said Shefali.