Our team of ICS team leaders and volunteers are based in Kiswanya and have successfully organised two Community Action Days since arriving in the village 7 weeks ago. The first Action Day was an introduction to the subject of water safety as well as the aims of our team which was a fantastic opportunity to meet the local community and explain the purpose of our trip. Our Action Day consisted of speeches from the community leaders, a massive demonstration of the 6 stages of handwashing as well as performances by traditional dancers. Over the course of the day we reached 1300 people, which far exceeded our expectations! We believe this was largely down to the support of the village leaders who helped us to promote our Action Day alongside posters, speakers and input from the school’s SWASH Club who led a parade through the village which attracted over 80 people along the way.
Our second Action Day took place last weekend and focused about food hygiene and was targeted more towards informing the women in our community of safe cooking practices. This is because the information is more relevant towards them as traditionally they do all the cooking in the household. Throughout the day, we reached over 650 people. Although smaller than the first, the second Action Day carried a much stronger message and was therefore equally, if not more, successful.
Since our arrival, we have held meetings with various groups in the community including the Elders, Women and Youth. Following our first Action Day we felt more accepted by the local community and were able to get them more involved in the second Action Day. Some of the women’s group even helped with a cooking demonstration. However, we found the youth group harder to engage with as many of the girls have commitments at home and little time to socialise. Despite this, through playing football with the local boys we managed to organise a netball match with some of the female youth and now meet with them regularly. Members of both the male and female youth groups participated at our second Action Day.
Being able to reflect on two Action Days we are aware of what has worked and what has been more challenging. Traditional music and dancing was a feature at both our Action Days and worked really well allowing us to integrate with the community. After hearing of the success of ‘Chase the Chicken’ from another Charlie group we held an event at our second Action Day which was great fun. During our football match at our first Action Day we experienced a challenge where the competitive nature of the game led to a scuffle between player but this was quickly resolved by the presence of the village leaders and didn’t affect the rest of the day!
Following both Action Days, we have received greater support for the project and an increased presence at both our meetings and on the construction site. We hope that this will continue as we prepare for our third and final Action Day next weekend.