Report:

Sugna’s smile

by Steffen Richter, 2017/08/28

Yes, Sugna is happy. She is very happy. Sugna is 37 years old, she lives in Pakistan, in a small sleepy village once called Yousuf Thebo, which is not far from the bigger city Khipro in the Sanghar district. Sugna has three children, her ten-year-old daughter Paari is already a great help to her, her son Jairam is seven years old and, like his two years younger sister, still very focused on his mama. Sugna´s husband Tekam works in the fields of a big landowner. Sugna und Tekam love each other, they are a happy couple. Sugna´s life is good. She lives a simple live characterised by challenges, but the family makes end meet.

Today we would like to tell Sugna´s story and that of her family. A short story with a happy ending. A story, which luckily is exemplary for many other families in Sugna´s village as well as many villages in other areas in the meantime. We meet Sugna´s smile in many places in Pakistan. Sugna´s smile is contagious.

Despite basic living conditions Sugna is happy. A small step has made her life substantially easier. Photo: Thomas Grabka

Pakistan is a vast country of fascinating beauty and amazing variety, a huge area with very different climatic conditions, which influence directly the lives of its inhabitants. Pakistan is also a country of tragic catastrophes, massive earthquakes and incredible floods are the most dangerous threats. Water, always in the first place: like everywhere else water is the key to life in Pakistan.

But whereas in some parts of our earth a simple hand movement is enough to provide cold or warm clean water, the access to water requires in many mostly dry parts of Pakistan a walk of several kilometres. On the way to the water place it is only hot, on the way back is hot, too, and, moreover, the dirty bulging water canisters cause much pain on hands, arms and on the back.

Each meter becomes a merciless struggle with the ravaged body, the second hand seems to stick to the biological clocks of the many, many young and old women, who have to fetch the water every day of their lives. Water that, in the proper sense, means life, but that due to the difficult conditions means sickness and a tedious, complicated daily routine. Let´s start Sugna´s story here.

Water is the key

Breaking the cycle

Sugna´s smile has always been special. It embellishes her delicate face with the dark attentive eyes, it matches quite wonderfully the exotic colours of her artfully stitched headscarf. Sugna smiles often, even so her daily life has been dominated by the water transport until just a few months ago. In order to cover her family´s need for water at least to some degree, she had spent up to five hours every day fetching water from a canal, which was several kilometres away.

"I spent a major part of my time and energy fetching the water", she tells us during our visit in the hot Pakistan summer. "That was a big problem, because there were so many other tasks waiting for me at home, too: our children needed attention, my husband needed help in the fields and much more. It was not possible to do this, I was tied up fetching water..."

Sugna fetched the water from a canal. But water is not just water! Sugna´s water did not taste good, even so it quenched the thirst. Their skin became sick. The whole family continually suffered from diarrhoea. "I didn´t know anything about hygiene. But even if I had known, how should I have behaved without access to really clean water?" she asks rightfully and smiles in a friendly way.

Few steps, neither costly nor elaborate, have changed the lives of Sugna and the other villagers substantially: the construction of a fountain driven by a hand pump and near to their village is the biggest blessing, now sufficient clean water is available at all times. Workshops on hygiene, water and the use of sanitary installations further enhanced the massive decrease of infections.

Simple measures with a huge impact: the water pump saves women like Sugna from the long and tedious way to the next water place. Photo: Thomas Grabka

In cooperation with our local partner PAK Mission Society and thanks to the support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) we could implement the measures described above in the last months in more than 30 villages. Sugna’s smile spreads in circles.

Small steps, big impact

Donate a smile

Development cooperation projects are often discussed with regard to their usefulness and often long periods of implementation. Sugna, her smile, her family, her village and the happy ending of her story stand for all the possibilities, we have to change the life of people in need. Please use your chance to initiate lasting change by your donation. Donate a smile. Thanks a lot, also in the name of Sugna, Tekam, Paari, Jairam and Meena.

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