Zahra hears about DRR for the first time
Zahra recalls the time when ActionAid staff came to her village under SRACAD (Strengthening the Resilience of Afghanistan's Vulnerable Communities against Disasters) project and talked about how to reduce the risks of the disasters the village face frequently. What captured the interest of women and men and children in the community was the interesting way the staff was sharing the knowledge on how to respond to the disasters in such a way that the disasters cause minimum or no damage to the lives, limbs, or property of the community. This was the first time when the village heard about the systematic way communities can prepare themselves to anticipate and reduce the risks of and responds to disasters when they occur.
Engaging in First Aid group
She remembers how the head of CDC selected 15 members including 7 women as DRR committee members. Zahra says “I joined the first aid group of the DRR committee, and received useful training along with other members of the group. The environment of collective learning of skills which we can use in our day to day lives as well as when disasters strike our community created a high degree of enthusiasm and feeling of solidarity among us. We knew we can handle things more efficiently and without getting into panic if someone is injured. We understood that if injuries are serious, the delivering the first aid to injured person will enable us to transport him or her safely to the nearest hospital. We were also provided with a first aid box; this box is a new power in our village; and new hope for us”. She said she has learned very useful skills such as CPR and attending to bleeding, burns, poisoning and fractures.
Zahra remembers “in the past we didn’t have information on how to rescue or help affected people during a disaster or in any emergency situation. For example, when one of my sons burnt his face, we applied toothpaste thinking it will lessen his pain and heal the burns. We were horrified to see that the injured part, instead of healing, became worse. We never knew about the first aid as we know now”.
She shares with excitement and pride about the incident when she was able to use her newly learnt skills: “Last year a huge stone fell down the hills which injured two men. One of them injured his foot and another one his head. I did the bandaging to immobilize the foot for the one, and to stop bleeding for the other. Both of them were transported to the hospital safely. The health café worker in the hospital was surprised to see the first aid treatment given to the men and complimented Zahra for having done the bandaging so well.
Zahra further adds that in the community the gender norms are slowly changing. “It would not have been acceptable for any woman to touch men who is not closely related to you like your husband, father, brother or son. However, we are now allowed to help men during emergency situation like this one. The DRR training made the entire community aware that when disasters or any emergency happens, women can come forward to rescue and attend to injured men, which was unthinkable a year back. My husband was a proud man when I helped these two injured men. We women are now known for our skills and willingness to help; men are slowly but surely realizing that a wind of change is blowing, that women when trained in useful skills make the community stronger and more prepared to face disasters”.
With a smile on her face and sparkle in her eyes, Zahra concludes, “now when we women gather together, we learn from each other, we have a deep sense of belonging, we know that we matter, and we look forward eagerly to our next meeting”.