Community Development and Contribution

Evidence has shown that communities have tremendous potential to improve health throughout the world. Achieving polio eradication in southern Afghanistan will require us to take better advantage of the ground willingness confidence that communities make possible the impossible in the field. Number of developing countries often use and mention the positive role community engagement, the community involvement and community networks can play in support of health outcomes. The support that communities can provide is an asset that is immeasurable in its potential for driving change, no matter how small or huge the effort would be. It can assist in accelerating the immunization efforts toward increasing the immunization coverage in the community. A social mobilizer story in Kabul Shah, village of Kandahar city, demonstrates the positive role community involvement and commitment in progress toward program implementation in her area.

Saraya is a social mobilizer in Kabul Shah village of Kandahar province, she has studied up to elementary school, but due to family issues and community customs, she was obliged to discontinue her studies and take care of the house and her family members.

After years Saraya hears about literacy classes in her area, she rushed to take the literacy classes to learn basic writing and reading, continuing the efforts of learning. One day, Saraya finds out that one her teachers was working in a polio eradication program as a supervisor. As her student, Saraya was inspired by her teacher, finally, one day Saraya asked her teacher if she can support her by working in the program as a volunteer to serve children in her place, Saraya joined the program for 7 years now, she worked as a team member to immunize children, house to house. She also worked as a recorder for a while. During that time, she used her best efforts to track the number of revisited households and missed children houses, later meeting with social mobilizers and their work. Saraya is interested to work as SM with families to develop their lifestyle and create positive behavior in her village. In 2010, Saraya was appointed as a social mobilizer by her community Leader. At the beginning, Saraya was performing as SM in round-based approach. She was used to working 7 days in a month, 4 days before rounds (mobilizing communities) and 3 days during the round with teams visiting all households in her area. She used to mobilize her community to vaccinate their children against polio and other vaccine preventable diseases, she takes accounts of new born children in her settlement, however, she was not confident about her work since time was very short for her to work with each family based on their need. Currently, Saraya is appointed as a full-time social mobilizer, and she is very happy and feels confident enough in working with families.

Register used by SM to track Missed and refusal children for Polio vaccination

“I feel very happy not only because I got a full time opportunity, but I get more time to work, and having the register where I can record the number of families and their eligible children who live in my area, it made my work easy because now I have the numbers in my fingertips”

Saraya feels that immunization is each child’s right that should be given to them. Her efforts and ambitions made her to be one of the honored community mobilizer in her village.

Saraya belongs to big family, she is not only using her family’s gatherings and parties to discuss polio vaccination and importance of it but to participate in several religious events, gatherings and parties to conduct health talks.

Vaccinating a refusal child after convincing her family Kabulshah of Kandahar city

She conducts health education sessions (health talks) using educational information and communication materials that are provided to her by her supervisor. She convinces families on practicing personal and environmental hygiene. She also educates mothers on antenatal care, good food intake, Brest feeding and control of communicable disease. Since then, Saraya has resolved number of refusal families and immunized number of missed children. In Nov,2018, she was able to immunize 42 out of 82 missed children with polio vaccination and in Dec 52 out of 60 in cluster 27 of Kandahar city.

Her dream is to help people in her community. She wants to see Kandahar as a polio free province.

Saraya says working as SM has changed her life style, it gives her a wider vision and patience to serve people. She appreciates the reputation that she has gained after being SM.

“I was an ordinary girl that no one knew, but now everyone in my community knows me and values my words”

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