Health education in rural areas / THE WADI GERMAN WORK IN KURDISH RURAL AREAS

Wadi’s mobile female lead teams visit far away areas in Iraqi-Kurdistan giving health education to women and girls in the villages.

Often, rural areas of Kurdistan are isolated on many fronts. Schools, public institutions, hospitals and health clinics are scarce and usually based in the larger towns and in the cities. Long roads to hospitals and other health institutions in particular present a very serious challenge for many women living in villages, only adding to lack of development with regards to personal health.

Since the Kurdish woman is perceived to be the heart and foundation of her home, women’s poor health is a problem for the entire family, and sometimes the whole village. This is one major reason why an initiative by WADI to offer health classes for women in villages is an important step in the right direction.

Together with two nurses from Holland and Sweden, WADI is offering one to two hour health education classes to different villages in various areas of the Kurdistan region. The topics discussed by the nurses vary, from advice about puberty (e.g., how the mother should deal with daughters reaching the age of menstruation) to family planning, healthy eating and exercise and education on items found around the home that could be dangerous for children.

For each topic, the team also distributes an informational brochure that WADI has translated into Kurdish. These classes have been conducted for the last two years with the different mobile WADI teams, and now the nurses are traveling with the mobile FGM teams which are part of the the UNICEF and WADI anti-FGM project.

A vist to Gomazal village in Suleymania governorate:

The mobile FGM, ran by Wadi’s partner PDO, team, along with the two nurses and a translator, traveled to the wayward village of Gomazalabout two hours from Suleymania to gather women and young girls and tell them about health issues during puberty and family planning. About 25-30 women gatheredin a house overlooking a beautiful hill. They listened intently as the nurses informed them about the reasons behind a girl’s menstruation and urged the participants to prepare their daughters for this stage of their lives and to also inform them about the reason why this happens to them. Then the topic changed to family planning and how to best plan having a child and how to best prevent having unwanted children. The female cycle was discussed as well as when a woman is most fertile and the most common methods of birth control. The latter topic, ofcourse,prompted a great deal of chucklingand blushing among the attendees, though they nonetheless took great interest in the topic and later even asked the nurses for further health advice. This first outing with the mobile FGM teams demonstrated a great deal of promise and hopefully there will be further updates from other meetings.