Water heaters changing lives for families in Afghanistan


By Harun Sadat

Jan. 22, 2016

Dr Najia Fazli used to worry every day about her kids when she left for work at a hospital in Afghanistan.

Then she got a water heater.

Fazli works at the Kabul Hospital from morning until afternoon. Her husband usually isn’t home and her kids are left alone with her oldest daughter, 17, in charge.

Her main concern was the safety of her children if they wanted to take a shower, because they had to burn wood and boil water. Fazli used to be afraid of her kids burning from the water or the fire.

Every home in Kabul was supposed to get a water heater in 2014, but the cost was too high. By the end of 2015, the cost of the water heaters went down and almost all homes have one.

For a family like Fazli’s, water heaters meant more safety.

“With my kids, you don’t know what they will get themselves into. I was always afraid to leave home. I would think ‘What if my oldest is boiling water and one of my boys knocks it over or kicks one of the burning woods off.’”

Now, with the heater, she leaves her kids knowing there are fewer things she has to be worried about.

Zara Yusufi is mother of nine, and a part-time teacher.

“Four of my children are under 10, so that means they get dirty fast. Back when we didn’t have water heaters, my children each had their own day in a week to get clean. Now it’s simple, I wash them all in the same day and don’t have to worry about boiling buckets and buckets of water.

“This machine is a miracle.”

Majan Fazli has a bad knee problem. It is hard for her to go for a glass of water, so boiling water is nearly impossible.

“I don’t like people doing things for me all the time, so sometimes, no matter the pain, I have to complete the task.”

Majan and her husband live with their three sons. Most of the work is done by the sons’ wives, but Majan is upset if she is not doing anything all the time.

When she does boil the water, her knees start hurting at night from carrying the water.

The memory of the pain she would get when sleeping makes her appreciate the water heater even more, she said.

“It would feel like a knife is jabbing into my knee. I would cry all night. I am glad this machine took away my worries. No one has to make hot water for me and I don’t have to either,” she said, laughing.