By Georgia Trismpioti, IFRC
Masouma, a young Afghani woman living at the Kara Tepe refugee camp in Greece for the last six months, is a shining example of an empowered woman.
A mother of two, Masouma dedicates much of her free time to volunteering for the Red Cross. Her role as a hygiene promoter is to help her community stay aware of the biggest public health risks, to use safe hygiene practices and make the best use of the water and sanitation facilities.
“I feel it is my responsibility to care for my community. I would say that no matter who you are, you have the power to impact the lives around you through volunteering,” Masouma said.
She helps the community understand more about the diseases that come from poor hygiene and sanitation, as well as good hygiene practices, the best use of personal hygiene items. She visits people in their tents, and is involved in advisory, mediation and referral services.
“I have learned that service is using the gifts you already possess to improve others’ current circumstances. As a young woman, it is so empowering to me to be involved with humanitarian efforts because it is the most influential and powerful thing you can do,” she said.
Red Cross works to improve water and sanitation infrastructure and hygiene awareness at the camp. Training of hygiene promotion community volunteers remains a priority to encourage community ownership.
“I feel proud of the work within my community and our common efforts to make Kara Tepe a better place to live. By improving hygiene, educating about hygiene, and promoting good handwashing, we have seen a significant reduction of diarrhoeal cases among children,” she says.
Volunteering can also support successful integration between the different communities in the camp by fostering exchange, increased contact, and building mutual awareness.
“Volunteering helped me to gain new skills but the most important is that I have made new friends from different cultural backgrounds that allows me to build an understanding that no religion or culture is better than the other but that each has its unique features!”