The Women to Women Group, and similar ones like it, were established by AICD in 2011 to alleviate the lack of toilet coverage, and to help educate people on key sanitation and community health practices. The Idea was to have the community members help educate each other. Having a system like this one increases the chances of educating the communities about key community health practices. If community members knew and lived with were the ones teaching the practices instead of the organizations, there would be a greater chance the people would be willing to learn because they would be more comfortable with someone who is in their exact situation. Also being close and interacting every day with those who they teach helps to monitor and control the progress of the sanitation and hygiene practices AICD tries to implement.
Two years ago when the Women to Women group was blooming, Jesica was selected by her community and AICD to become the first Community Promoter in her area. Her job, along with the other twelve women (who were also selected by the community and AICD this year at the end of May) in this area’s group, help to teach their surrounding communal blocks the hygienic practices of smearing a house to prevent Jiggers (which are caused by dust). Jiggers are tiny flies that dig into skin (usually feet) and feed off of blood, they are commonly found around animals in areas of filth, usually pigs. Sever cases of jiggers can leave people unable to walk until the flies are removed by tweezers or being soaked and killed off in hydrogen peroxide. Though there are few cases that rarely get to that stage, even one jigger in your foot can cause a restless night sleep.The process of smearing a house is a simple one that involves taking a mud and animal feces mixture to create a substance which holds moisture. This mixture is then smeared in the house to decreases dust in the household. To effectively decrease dust, the floor and the walls of the house must be smeared at least once a month, especially during the dry season. This process along with building a home with a base made of this mixture will drastically help prevent jiggers from hindering one’s life and their sleep.
|Jessica and her group were first trained by AICD on this process of smearing homes before they were able to go out and educate others. Though the education and the process of smearing is easy, the difficulty in their job is making sure everyone in the communities continues to smear after they teach them. The way they educate their fellow refugees on this process is through demonstrations. Each month Jessica and her group goes to a different block and helps smear four to five houses out of the twenty or so in the block in order to help teach the people in this community. This literal “Smear Campaign” is designed so the women can plan and promote the benefits of smearing in all of their surrounding communal blocks all year round. This type of campaign has already proven to be the most proficient in getting the word out and helping to preventing jiggers.|
Ever since 2011 when this group of twelve women have already had their own experience with jiggers and other sanitary diseases, parasites’, and pests. Like other community households they are helping to educate now, they too were ignorant of the practices to help prevent many of these sanitation issues, and many of them, if not all, have had complications with jiggers.
Ever since they had become apart of this group and learned these prevention methods, none of these ladies or their families have had any further problems with jiggers. Their success stories and their demonstrations have incited others to do the same thing in their homes. Ever since this group has been implemented the rate of jiggers has greatly decreased in the areas in which they have demonstrated.
Jiggers are not the only issue that these women have faced in this group. Being a part of this group, the first of its kind, and helping to teach others (they mainly teach other women) goes against many of the cultural norms that have been in place for generations. In most of the African cultures the males are the ones who construct the houses and are even the ones to smear the homes. However once the men construct the homes for their families, they often neglect or are ignorant of the importance of continually smearing the houses.
|The women’s role in the household has always been along the same lines of bearing and raising the family while taking care of their needs. If one of the children got sick or had jiggers, it was the responsibly of the females in the household to take care of the illness, the males have no part in the healing process since this is the woman’s job. However if the women are part of the healing process shouldn’t they be a part of the prevention process as well? That exact idea was the spark that ignited the idea for the Women to Women’s group. If women have to take care of the family then they need to be the ones to help prevent the disease, parasites, and pests. Fortunately for the women in these communities the men have accepted the women’s role in smearing as long as it does not interfere with their construction. Though the men in these communities accept only small roles for women, it is a great epoch for their future generations.|
The Women to Women groups in Kasese are not only a group of educators and preventers, but they are also pioneers. These trail blazers are brave enough to start fighting the old cultural norms and break down the social stigmas of their people, all while helping to educate and protect their families and neighbors. This inspiring group of women performs a very important duty in this community, but the most inspiring quality about all of these women is that they do not want to stop here. They wish to go one step further and learn farming, tailoring, and other trades from AICD so they can have more to teach to their community and prosper all together.