After Navihan lost her husband 10 years ago she struggled to feed her young children. She borrowed from a loan shark to make ends meet, but couldn’t repay the exorbitant interest. Her situation seemed bleak—until she was approved for a small loan from Opportunity’s partner, Cashpor. Navihan used the loan to start a roadside stall, which she has been running ever since. In addition to the produce she sells from her plot of land, the stall earns enough to provide for her children.
But income wasn’t the only barrier Navihan and her family faced. In their small village of around 200 households, sickness and poor health is common. High rates of open defecation and poor water quality lead to illnesses like typhoid and diarrhoea, illnesses which often leave adults and children unable to work or study.
When Navihan learned of the Community Health Leader training classes she went along largely out of curiosity, but she soon began to find the lessons useful for her own family. She taught her children how to wash their hands, and soon noticed their overall health improving.
Encouraged, she completed the training and started sharing the principles she had learned with her community. She began incorporating handwashing training into her after school lessons with 60 children, encouraging them to share the message with their own families. Once every month she leads a makeshift parade with the children as they sing and chant and perform hand-washing demonstrations. At first people laughed. But then they started paying attention. Navihan is now considered a true leader in her community, and the overall health of the village has improved. She is proud that her community is a clean place where families are healthy, and hopes to continue educating those around her with important messages about their health.