A New Purpose: How Zareena is Empowering her Community with Clean Water
Zareena, 41, belongs to Mirzapur, a village in Deepalpur Tehsil of Okara District, Pakistan. She witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of contaminated water and poor sanitation in her village. People suffered from a range of water-borne illnesses, and access to clean drinking water was a luxury that many could not afford.
"All my life, I've seen people suffering because of stomach issues, and hepatitis," she said, with a deep concern in her voice.
When WaterAid and its local partner Doaba Foundation, with funding from PepsiCo, began discussing the installation of a water filtration plant, Zareena knew that their prayers had been answered.
“This was not done overnight, WaterAid involved us from the very beginning. I have been part of their social mobilization efforts in the community. At first, people in Mirzapur thought this will never happen, but now, three months later, the Water Filtration plant has made a significant impact in our lives.” says Zareena
The WASH committee members, including Zareena, meet regularly once a month to discuss and oversee the operation and maintenance of the water filtration plant. The committee is dedicated to improving access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene education in the village. To ensure the sustainability of the project, they charge a nominal amount per household. This contribution from each household goes towards the maintenance and upkeep of the water filtration plant.
Today, we are more confident now and know the importance of clean water. We see a reduction of stomach related issues amongst people, but most importantly, the water tastes good.
Zareena's passion for education and hygiene was evident as she spoke about the WASH club. "Women who are educated are aware of the importance of washing hands and cleanliness," she explained, with a sense of pride in her voice.
As a member of the WASH committee, Zareena connects with her community and inspires them to take charge of their health. "It's not just about drinking clean water; it's about being aware of the importance of hygiene and sanitation," she said.
"I have found a new purpose in life; I feel like I am contributing to my community. It's a small step, but it's a start. We want our children to be healthy." she said, her eyes shining with determination.
Zareena recently acquired a smartphone bought by her son, which has opened a whole new world of knowledge for her. She is excited about exploring the wealth of information available online and is particularly interested in learning more about hygiene practices and ways to fight water-borne diseases through online resources. Her smartphone and access to the internet have allowed her to expand her knowledge and use it to benefit her community
This story is a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives. When women like Zareena are part of the decision making in their communities, that is what fosters true change and is a real demonstration of women empowerment.