icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

The importance of soap

A man standing in a desert holding something white in his hand

Ali holding the soap which is helping to transform his village

Ali holding the soap which is helping to transform his village

The conflict in Yemen, which has gone on for nearly five years, has led to the suffering of more than 24 million people who are in need of humanitarian assistance. This is often due to the absence of basic services, which has caused the spread of diseases and epidemics such as cholera and dengue fever due to water pollution and a lack of hygiene awareness.

In Abyan governorate, in one of the most remote and distant villages, lives Ali Al-Ghawi, 52 years old. Mohammed lives in Bana village, and this area is one of the most deprived in Abyan.

“My family suffers from illnesses like diarrhoea and kidney diseases,” says Ali. “We did not know the reason, even though we were washing our hands with water.”

Ali’s family suffered from a lack of water, and when the rains stopped and the wells dried up, the suffering of family increased as they were forced to walk on difficult and dangerous paths to find only one litre of drinking water – enough for one day. Children often had to drop out of school because of water collection was so time consuming.

“Because of the contamination of water in the village, insects spread and diseases increased alarmingly. Many deaths have occurred in our village,” says Ali with sadness. Life in Bana village had become a survival challenge, with people looking for a miracle to save them from death.

Thankfully CARE intervened with the Yemen Emergency Food Assistance Project (YEFA III) funded by the United States Agency for International Development. Ali was a volunteer in the project, helping to educate his community on hygiene awareness, nutrition and safe water.

“The CARE project is what brought us together with the friend I have been looking for all my life – soap! Soap never entered our village before,” says Ali.

A man and boy standing in front of a hut
Ali with his son outside their home

After the volunteers were trained in environmental sanitation, as well as hygiene and nutrition awareness, the challenge for the volunteers was to reach people with their messages. The use of soap was the biggest challenge faced by Ali and volunteers in the village. People initially rejected the idea, believing that it was a waste of money with no perceived benefit. But after the volunteers persevered, people started to understand the importance of soap. “My family was the first to convince them of the importance of washing their hands using soap,” says Ali.

He was not satisfied with the lack of a bathroom in his house, especially after he knew the importance of personal hygiene, and so Ali built a new bathroom and always made sure that there was soap inside the bathroom.

“The children of the village no longer suffer from diseases, and they go to school regularly every day. The environment in the village has improved greatly,” says Ali happily. “If CARE had not come to our area, we would not have reached the path of salvation.”

Back to Top