HOME FRONT The least we can do is as­sist com­mu­ni­ties – Zainab Yari

Zainab Ab­du­laziz Yari is the CEO of Himma Com­mu­nity Health Cir­cle Ini­tia­tive. In this in­ter­view she speaks on why her NGO is serv­ing as a medium to de­liver health­care, ed­u­ca­tion and em­power the so­ci­ety.

Daily Trust - - YOUTHVILLE - By Amina Al­has­san & Prisca Ekokuje Emadu

When did your NGO start?

While grow­ing up, I had pas­sion for help­ing peo­ple. My grand­fa­ther was a district head and he al­ways took peo­ple into his house and helped them; he was one of my great­est mo­ti­va­tions. I told my­self then that, when I grew up I would open an or­phan­age. When I got mar­ried I told my hus­band about my dream, he en­cour­aged me, but told me not to limit my ini­tia­tive to a few peo­ple. He ad­vised that I ex­pand to an NGO. That was how the idea came about. It has been in ex­is­tence for al­most a year now.

How has the NGO im­pacted lives?

Dur­ing the launch­ing, we laid out pro­grammes that we wanted to em­bark upon. We made these known to those in­vited. We ended up choos­ing 250 ben­e­fi­cia­ries, some of who were preg­nant women, or­phans, vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and women farm­ers.

After that, we trained tra­di­tional birth at­ten­dants. The NGO in­tends to go na­tional but we de­cided to start with Zam­fara, my state, be­cause I know the peo­ple there and what they need. Be­fore we com­menced the train­ing of the tra­di­tional birth at­ten­dants, we went to the district heads, spoke with them and asked them to talk to their peo­ple. We in­ti­mated them about the kind of peo­ple we wanted for the project. The train­ing was a suc­cess, we trained 50 peo­ple out of the 200 we were sup­posed to train, and we in­tend to train another batch soon.

Most of the women trained were from the ru­ral ar­eas; you can’t even ac­cess the vil­lages by car. In some places we had to use boat to cross. After the train­ing, we went for rou­tine checks and the feed­back was very pos­i­tive.

We know most women from those ar­eas don’t allow men ex­am­ine them, so with the help of the TBA we were able to help and this got other peo­ple in­ter­ested, and so they are an­tic­i­pat­ing the next batch of train­ing.

Where did the funds you used for the projects come from?

Dur­ing the launch­ing we had a fund raiser, it was suc­cess­ful. Most of the projects we have ex­e­cuted were ex­pen­sive, be­cause we had to bring pro­fes­sion­als to come and con­duct the train­ing. When these peo­ple knew that the train­ing was tak­ing place in Zam­fara, they charged more.

It was ex­pen­sive but with the help of the funds raised dur­ing the launch­ing, we have been able to cater for some of the train­ings. We can’t go for donor agen­cies now, un­til we have some­thing to show them. But we have al­ready started ap­ply­ing for funds from some of the agen­cies.

The North has a big chal­lenge when it comes to VVF. Is the NGO work­ing to­wards as­sist­ing women with VVF?

This is ac­tu­ally one of our goals. We have con­tacted a teach­ing hospi­tal in Morocco. We trav­elled there and they have promised to help. We signed a con­tract with them, hope­fully we would hear from them soon. We in­tend to tackle the is­sue of VVF zon­ally, and also the is­sue of cataract. The teach­ing hospi­tal will be com­ing to help us with these is­sues.

Early mar­riage is another is­sue in the North, what is your NGO do­ing to ad­dress this?

There is a con­tra­dic­tion when you talk of early mar­riage in the North. Peo­ple see you as one who wants to go against tra­di­tion and re­li­gion. But as an NGO, the best we can do is go through the tra­di­tional rulers. Some of these tra­di­tional rulers are very ed­u­cated, so they know what we are talk­ing about. If you go to a house where they have like six girls, most of them hawk items, and so they feel if she goes to school how will they feed? They are also con­cerned with the mar­riage items she will take to her hus­band’s house, where will the money come from? But now in Zam­fara there are en­light­en­ment pro­grammes, telling them about the ben­e­fits of their chil­dren go­ing to school.

We have this pro­gramme whereby when we go to a house, we tell them that we would give them an al­lowance and they should allow their daugh­ters at­tend school. We can’t carry on like that, so we are try­ing to seek the as­sis­tance of the gov­ern­ment.

Presently we are help­ing 200 girls, but they still look for other means to fend for them­selves. But even with us giv­ing the par­ents money, it hasn’t helped much be­cause they take the money and we don’t know if the girls go to school or not. When we check with the school reg­is­ter, some have their names there, but dur­ing mar­ket days a ma­jor­ity of them leave for the mar­ket. They claim they can’t af­ford to miss mar­ket days.

For some­one who read po­lit­i­cal science and in­tends to read law, why do you fo­cus your NGO on health, ed­u­ca­tion and em­pow­er­ment?

This is a ques­tion I have been asked fre­quently. I choose health, ed­u­ca­tion and em­pow­er­ment be­cause they are key is­sues. These are the re­oc­cur­ring top­ics I have heard since I was a child, some peo­ple have suc­ceeded in help­ing, but the prob­lem is still there.

The key is­sues in the North are ba­si­cally cen­tred around health, girl-child ed­u­ca­tion, youth em­pow­er­ment and more. We can’t change what the gov­ern­ment can­not do, but at least we can help or serve as a medium for the gov­ern­ment to help the so­ci­ety. The least we can do is help com­mu­ni­ties, and with the right back­ing we can do more, that is our hope and prayer.

What has been the suc­cess rate with the train­ing of the tra­di­tional birth at­ten­dants?

We called a reg­is­tered nurse from the as­so­ci­a­tion of nurses and mid­wifery who taught them. Some of the tra­di­tional birth at­ten­dants have sec­ondary school ed­u­ca­tion hence it was eas­ier to train them. Some of them are not ed­u­cated but very ex­pe­ri­enced, they are older and have been tak­ing de­liv­er­ies for a long time. We also taught them that when they have a prob­lem they can’t han­dle, they should go to the hospi­tal.

We gave them re­fer­ral forms, we are in part­ner­ship with each lo­cal gov­ern­ment hospi­tal, so when they go with the re­fer­ral they know it is from a trained tra­di­tional birth at­ten­dant. The tra­di­tional birth at­ten­dants have been very help­ful, and the lo­cal gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tals have been co­op­er­at­ing.

Can you shed more light on the re­fer­ral forms?

Not all the tra­di­tional birth at­ten­dants went to school, so we use char­ac­ters to il­lus­trate for them on the form. On it we have an il­lus­tra­tion of preg­nant women, which means ma­ter­nity and where you see mos­quito you de­tect it is malaria. Most of the feed­back copies we have from the hos­pi­tals are mostly of de­liv­ery of preg­nant women.

Our train­ing ses­sions with the tra­di­tional birth at­ten­dants have also taught them hy­gienic mea­sures to be taken dur­ing de­liv­ery. We have 14 to 14 char­ac­ters on the re­fer­ral form, we have also told them to en­cour­age the women to go to hospi­tal.

Zainab Ab­du­laziz Yari, CEO, Himma Com­mu­nity Health Cir­cle Ini­tia­tive

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