SWASH (School Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is a governmental educational package designed to teach basic water and sanitation practices to children in Tanzania. During our SWASH sessions, we encourage the active participation of students by creating fun activities that aid learning. When our lesson starts, the whole classroom becomes full of laughter, catch phrases and the cheerful voices of students as the SWASH club members (aged 4-6) learn about hygiene with songs, games and dramas. The idea behind SWASH club is that the children who attend will become ambassadors for positive change, and teach the rest of the school and their families about good personal and food hygiene.
The students who attend our SWASH lessons have demonstrated that they have a thorough understanding of the aims and objectives of the lessons, and have the confidence and enthusiasm to spread the good hygiene message throughout the school and the wider community. “A lot of children have applied what they have learned in their SWASH lessons in their homes. They are teaching their friends and family what they’ve learned [about good sanitation and hygiene practises] which leads to a long-term benefit for whole community” says Mr. Faustino, Headmaster of Peluhanda Primary School.
SWASH members also learn teamwork, leadership and teaching skills, and are given the opportunity to demonstrate these newly acquired skills during our Action Days. On our first Action day, the students performed three songs and a drama about teeth brushing with astonishing confidence in front of 200 community members.
In addition to the SWASH club, we believe that the construction of a female-specific latrine block at Peluhanda Primary school, in cooperation with SHIPO and the local community, will contribute to the quality of education received in Peluhanda. Prior to the construction of the toilet, Peluhanda Primary School only had unisex latrines for students. They were unable to offer adequate privacy to students and reduced the number of female students attending school, particularly once they start menstruating. The new female-specific latrines give females the privacy they require and offers a hygienic environment to incinerate any waste products. Through the construction of the new toilet block we hope that female attendance rates at the primary school will rise, leading to an increase in educational attainment for females and in the long term this will contribute to greater future employment prospects for the women of Peluhanda.
When delivering our SWASH sessions at Peluhanda Primary School, we noticed that there was a lot of litter on the school grounds. Although students cleaned the interior of the school every morning, the outside environment was not maintained to same level. A clean environment is conducive to a quality learning environment by reducing germs and disease, therefore we came up with the idea of supporting the students to construct rubbish bins. Together we built six bins, which we have already observed making an impact on litter levels at the school.
Although the primary focus of our SWASH project in Peluhanda is to improve health and hygiene in the community, the project is intrinsically linked to quality of education, too. Without good health it is difficult to receive quality education, and a lack of quality education can make it more difficult to stay in good health. This is why our SWASH lessons are so important. And it’s important to remember that education is never one way. Not only have we delivered an educational programme in Peluhanda, but we as volunteers have received an education in return. From our home stay families, our project partner, and the fantastic Head Teacher at Peluhanda Primary School, Mr Faustino, we have learned so much about the importance of community support and partnership working, and for many of the international Venturers we have also learned about a brand new culture and way of life – all of which we intend to take home with us as we return to our homes as Active Citizens and ambassadors for positive change in our own communities.
By Alex and Shohei – Alpha Two
Photography by: Steve Freeman