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Her Meghna Group Makes A Mega Difference

WRITTEN BY KATRINA MURPHY




In the village of Niler Kutti, located in Chor Borobila, Bangladesh, nine-year-old Tisa poses for a picture of her drinking clean water from the new tube-well in her home. Only a few years ago, clean drinking water seemed entirely out of reach for Tisa and her family and the majority of their community.

Moriom Bibi Tisa, at nine-years-old, is the youngest of Abdul Mannan and Fatema Khatun’s five daughters. Before her family became involved with Food for the Hungry (FH) in 2012, the family was struggling financially, and they were often sick. Abdul worked at a fish food factory to support the family, but there was not enough money for the family to have access to the medical attention they needed.

When Food for the Hungry (FH) staff began their work in Niler Kutti, they agreed with community leaders that clean water and hygienic toilets ought to be a priority. FH set up a committee to increase awareness about the importance of clean water, hygienic toilets, personal cleanliness, and hand-washing. It was important to stress the vital connection between clean water and health, and FH's local staff urged group members to install quality tube-wells and toilets, paved with concrete and bricks instead of mud—a cheaper but less effective option.

In June 2012, Tisa’s mother Fatema joined Meghna, a learning group initiated by FH, where a "leader mother" learns from FH staff, then shares with her neighbours. She learned about hygiene and health and how the two are connected; she learned about intestinal parasites, how to avoid them in the future, and how the medication works. FH provided de-worming tablets for the family. The classes also covered the benefits of saving money and participating in a Savings and Loan Group.




Fatema began making changes in her personal life and family almost immediately. She received sewing training through FH and started earning money making clothes, and she began saving 10 Taka every week and investing it in the Savings and Loan Group. She was careful to prepare food in a clean environment and encouraged her family to wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before eating.

I am proud of the family’s transformation,” says FH field staff member Mosharof Hossen; he is encouraged because the family was so quick to take the training to heart and because they “identified problems that were putting them at risk” and now “Tisa and her sisters are healthy.” Fatema took out an interest-free loan from her savings and loan group and, with additional help from FH, used the money to have a quality hygienic toilet and tube-well installed in her home.

Fatema describes the transformation in her life with gratitude to FH and with joy for herself and her family.

“My daughters are receiving proper education,” she says, “everybody in my family is more healthy now than they have been. I also received mother-leader training from FH and have been providing health information to women in my neighbour circle and creating awareness about important health issues.”

Fatema is especially passionate about teaching pregnant women and women with very young children. She volunteers with FH’s de-worming tablet distribution program and with their Global Hand-Washing Day celebration. She explains that what she has learned has been “very useful and important” in her life and in her own family and that she is eager to spread knowledge that will be impact others. This work, she says, “makes [her] very proud.”

Other members of Meghna also took out loans and installed toilets. At least 80 toilets have been installed in the community. FH has now trained 240 leader mothers like Fatema who speak to their neighbours about health and cleanliness and nutrition. Rona, the Community Development Committee leader, says that “Tisa’s family’s transformation is an example to other families in this village. Other families are being inspired by the changes they see.” He says he wants to “thank FH for their contribution to this family’s life and future.

Tisa was registered as a sponsored child in May 2013 and began benefiting from the sponsorship programs. Children in the program are educated on hygiene and health and receive an annual health check-up and any medication recommended by the physician. FH also puts on several events, including an annual Hand-Washing Day for all of the children in the community as well as Child Sponsorship Day and a pre-Christmas celebration.

Tisa is happy that her house is “very much more clean than it was before.” She poses for the picture, and she knows first hand exactly how much of a difference the glass of water in her hand symbolizes. She says simply: “I feel much better now!

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Her Meghna Group Makes A Mega Difference Reviewed by MPrins on 8:30 AM Rating: 5
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