MAP Disaster Kits
The anniversaries of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria remind us of how dramatically our lives can change with the weather from climate-controlled comfort to calamity in a matter of hours.
No matter what form catastrophe strikes, MAP’s first question is always, “How can we best help those most affected?” While we assess the need for medicines, we know for people who have lost everything, the MAP International Disaster Health Kit (DHK) provides a simple, yet dramatic product for people living in the most desperate of conditions.
Described as a ‘measure of dignity’ by people who have lost everything, DHK’s contain antiseptic wipes, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other essential items.
MAP International’s partner ANERA, the American Near East Refugee Aid organization, recently found another creative use for the disaster health kit. ANERA recently shared the following story about how women and girls living in refugee camps are being trained in disease prevention and hygiene awareness:
In the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon lies Burj El Barajneh; the most overpopulated Palestinian refugee camp in the city and home to more than 17,000 registered refugees; all living within a mere 1 square kilometer area…
Overcrowding, poor economic conditions, social and political marginalization has made the community in this camp vulnerable to poor sanitation practices and conditions. Within the camp, as in other camps across Lebanon, the consequences of these conditions fall primarily on women and girls, making them one of the most vulnerable demographic groups in the camp.
For girls, it’s not only their health that is at risk due to the dire sanitation conditions – whether it is disease or future reproductive-related issues – but also their family.
When family members get sick in the camp, young girls are often expected to take care of them. As this cultural dynamic prevails in many camp households, it is easy to see the repercussions that this has on the health of the camp. Without proper training in health sanitation and hygiene, young women and girls in the camp are often unable to help sick family members, and many times, even themselves.
Recognizing that women and girls were the key actors in improving health within the camp, ANERA partnered with UNICEF and MAP International to do outreach in Burj El Barajneh as part of the Community Based Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Project.
This project aims to equip these young women with the tools and information they need to become empowered agents of change. With these tools, they can serve their community through promoting hygienic living and good sanitation practices.
At five all-girls schools in the camp, local ANERA trained volunteers delivered hygiene awareness sessions to young women and girls.
Along with the awareness sessions, MAP International donated its kits that were distributed to the girls for their own benefit and as an incentive to encourage them attend more health awareness sessions. MAP’s kits included important sanitation tools such as soap, a towel, nail clippers, bandages, toothbrushes, and other hygiene-related items.
Nour, a local ANERA trained volunteer, reflected on her first session teaching young women and girls at the Fraternity Association for Social Cultural Work:
“I feel like the girls really benefited from the information we gave them and they all seemed very engaged and comfortable during the session. They certainly asked a lot of questions. Especially about the MAP kits when they opened them. The kits helped initiate discussion in class and the girls were excited to have tools to promote cleanliness and prevent sickness and disease,” Nour said.
For Nour, these sessions and the MAP kits add significant value to the girls in the camp and help improve the health of the entire camp.
“This information is essential to know and it is important that we teach it. This information can help change unhealthy habits and lead to a better lifestyle. In more serious situations, this information could save a life,” exclaims Nour.
When disaster strikes, MAP supplied-products facilitate the prevention of the spread of disease and illness. These items are critical both to physical and emotional health in many situations.