In order to help realise this target, Charlie 1 has been undertaking various activities in the village of Mlanje aimed at promoting the importance of good personal hygiene as well as increasing awareness in the local population of the importance of using clean water whenever possible.
One of the main focuses has been SWASH (School, Water and Sanitation & Hygiene) awareness sessions that we have been running in the local school since we arrived. In these sessions, we have covered a variety of topics; ranging from the 6 stages of handwashing to the importance of brushing teeth and washing your body regularly. These simple yet effective techniques will hopefully go a long way towards raising awareness of good health and sanitation practices that aim to reduce the number of preventable deaths among children resulting from diarrhoea and vomiting.
Although the SWASH sessions are key in fostering positive behavioural change, we have not limited our efforts to these alone. On Saturday 15th of April, we held a successful Action Day at which there was an attendance of over 900 people, not only from our village but from surrounding villages as well. Following surveys that we held in our village we noticed that although many people knew how to treat water, they often did not know when best to use water that had been treated. Therefore, we decided to focus our first Action Day on water safety and treatment. We started the event with music and once everyone had gathered, we began with speeches from several village leaders, including; a representative from the local government, a representative from the Elders of the village and a member of the Youth Group who all spoke about the importance of good hygiene.
All of the groups were motivational and demonstrated their support for the project, thus helping to further engage the local community. This was followed by a session run by the all the team on how to treat water, when it is best to use treated water and the effects that untreated water can have. After this the school SWASH club performed an amazing play on the topic of good hygiene, which received lots of laughs and applause from the community. We then finished the Action Day with a variety of games and competitions, one of the main highlights being the Tug of War competition. Needless to say, despite our most valiant efforts, we were resoundingly beaten by the villagers!
With the ongoing SWASH sessions and the future Action Days that we have planned all of the team feel determined and confident that alongside the community we can go a long way towards helping reduce the instances of diarrhoea and vomiting in Mlanje. Added to this, through teacher training, we expect the benefits of good hygiene practices to be instilled in future generations, thus creating a long lasting positive impact. This will go far in helping to achieve the Global Goal of Health and Well-being and fulfilling the aims of UNICEF in minimising preventable deaths in children by 2025.