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Dignity packs to help women and girls recover better from Cyclone Eloise

“This is a very kind gesture. I will not worry about my child’s nappies for a long time,” stated a joyful 25-year-old Samukelisiwe Mamba after receiving her package from UNFPA at Game 5 community near Big Bend in the Lubombo region.

Mamba, who lost both parents at a young age, stays with the father of her 3 children in the community. Among other things, she described her failure to get her birth certificate on time as one of her worst struggles. This also rubbed off on her son, who was only able to enroll at school aged 8. Cyclone Eloise, which hit their community earlier this year, further escalated her challenges.

“The house got flooded. Our household items got soaked in water and other items were washed away. My family had no shelter and no belongings or whatsover for use whilst housed at Mahlabaneni Primary School,” said Samukelisiwe reminiscing the rough times experienced due to the cyclone.

Simiselwe Gamedze, a mother to a 3-weeks old bouncing little boy, is another young woman who had to endure a horrific experience of the cyclone whilst in her advance pregnancy. 

“I was afraid I could get complications and maybe lose the baby. I had to sleep on the floor in the school as the flood ruined our home and our house was damaged and those conditions were not favorable for a 7-months pregnant woman,” Gamedze said.

“I thank God my baby boy came out well,” Simiselwe expressed her relief.

Simiselwe and Samukelisiwe are among the 53 women, who received dignity packs from UNFPA on the at Game 5 community.

UNFPA Maternal Health Program Officer Thamary Silindza-Mavuso, speaking during the handover, stated that the material support provided was part of UNFPA’s humanitarian response initiative targeting women and adolescent girls.

“This support will ensure that women and their babies continue to practice good hygiene while they recover from the damage caused by the cyclone,” she stated.

The packages comprised basic hygiene items: (bath soap, facecloth, body lotion, deodorant, tooth brush laundry soaps) menstrual hygiene items (sanitary pads) and COVID_19 prevention items (Hand wipes, fabric masks and sanitizers). There were also add-ons of disposable nappies, petroleum jelly and big towels for pregnant and lactating mothers.

“Hygiene is crucial during pregnancy and lactation; however, it gets overlooked during disasters as food and shelter gets prioritized. We are hopeful that the packs we have brought here will be a significant contribution towards the protection of both the mother and the child,” Mavuso continued.

According to an assessment conducted by the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), about 34 families were affected by the cyclone in the community, resulting in the loss of their property, food and shelter.

NDMA’s Regional Officer, Nobuhle Mbonane described the support as appropiate and fitting to the needs of women and adolescent girls in the area. She further stated that the dignity packs would be a huge relief to the affected families.

Speaking on behalf of the community leadership, Sandziso Mamba the Indvuna Yenkhundla expressed his gratitude, stated that the hygiene packs are among the unending list of needs required for fast-tracking the recovery of the affected families.

“Recovering from a natural disaster is a long journey. It also requires a lot of money. With these commodities, the families will be able to save the little they have and use it to purchase other household needs,” Mamba noted.

For the next 5 years, UNFPA in Eswatini will thrive to reduce maternal mortality, currently at 452 women per 100,000 live births, by 50 per cent. This donation therefore, adds to the long list of activities aimed at ensuring that women do not die while giving life, even during natural disasters.