Hygiene training at refugee camp Athiéme

by Sven Ramones,  2011/01/17

Ten days ago humedica employee Sven Ramones travelled to Benin in order to assist at the distribution of relief goods and medications, as well as at hygiene training measures. One of these training measures was held for the people living at the refugee camp Athiéme.

humedica employee Sven Ramones with a local employee. Photo: humedica

“After driving through the rural areas in the south of Benin for several hours, the humedica team reached Athiéme. Here, close to the border to the neighbouring country Togo, the Red Cross has set up a refugee camp. About 300 families found shelter there, after the floods had swept away their houses and all their belongings several months ago.

The crowded conditions, the heat and the lack of food take their toll on the camp’s inhabitants. But there is one more problem: when refugees live in close quarters and under the simplest of circumstances, this inevitably leads to dismal hygienic conditions. The camp’s inhabitants lack the means and often also proper information for keeping their living environment clean.

Insufficient hygiene causes diseases that can spread quickly among a large number of people due to the conditions prevailing at refugee camps. 300 families – fathers, mothers and their often numerous children – have to share about 30 latrines at the camp of Athiéme.

In order to explain to the people the importance of keeping the camp and in particular the sanitary facilities clean, the humedica team organised a hygiene training for the refugees.

When we reached the camp we were at first welcomed by the employees of the Red Cross. Within seconds we were surrounded by mothers with their children who had already been waiting excitedly for our arrival. We also met Candide Beacou, a local health advisor, who had agreed to hold this day’s hygiene training together with humedica.

Physician Wilma van Bergen demonstrated that by means of pictures, potential language barriers can be overcome and important knowledge passed on. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

The camp’s inhabitants were waiting patiently, while we prepared everything for our presentation in the shade of tall trees on the grounds adjoining the camp. Some of them adjusted their benches and observed curiously what was going on.

After a short presentation of the humedica team and after giving an overview of the day’s agenda, the training began with the first, theoretical part. The inhabitants of the refugee camp were divided into two groups and Candide Beacou and the humedica team headed by the Dutch physician Wilma van Bergen explained to them how important daily hygiene is in order to prevent diseases.

The refugees were shown tablets with descriptive pictures demonstrating what they should and should not do in order to keep their families’ environment free of bacteria and germs. Mothers listened to the presentation attentively. Many of them joined in animated conversations and they were pleased about the support they received on this day.

At camps such as Athiéme, even the youngest often suffer from worms and helminthiasis. On this day alone, our team distributed tablets to about 230 children in order to fight worms or to prevent infections. The women with children formed long queues when we distributed the drugs and they waited for their treatment patiently. The people’s faces reflected their gratitude for the help humedica offered here today.

The second part of the training measure focused on explaining what needs to be taken into account when cleaning toilets thoroughly and correctly. Before this knowledge was implemented during a following practical exercise, Wilma von Bergen and the local employees of the humedica team seized the opportunity in order to treat the children living at the camp.

230 little girls and boys received tablets against worm infections on this day. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

In order to give the camp’s inhabitants the opportunity of implementing what they had learned during the theoretical part of the training also in future, the humedica team had furthermore brought a large amount of cleaning articles with them to Athiéme.

Equipped with brooms, little shovels, brushes, buckets and disinfectant solutions, and after a short briefing, the first committed camp inhabitants immediately started cleaning the camp’s sanitary facilities. Everyone was pleased to see how clean the camp’s simple latrines looked after a thorough cleaning.

Our parting gift to the refugees was soap, which also is a scarce good at their camp. Simple things that can contribute to preventing diseases from spreading among the camp’s inhabitants who are already suffering a hard enough fate. The knowledge imparted to the refugees at the camp by means of today’s humedica hygiene training will make their live a little safer until their houses will be rebuilt.”

Thank you very much for contributing to this relief measure by means of your donations. Please continue supporting our important work in Benin also in future and make a donation via our online form or to the account below:
             humedica e.V.
             Donation reference "Flood Benin"
             Account 47 47
             Bank Code 734 500 00
             Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also make a secure, fast and direct donation by means of sending a text message: simply send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. You will donate 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica disaster relief projects.

Thank you very much for your support. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

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