A lack of facilities, coupled with poor hygiene knowledge, leads to opportunities for learning being lost. This is particularly apparent among girls who, when entering puberty, can be forced to skip classes or drop out altogether. Children are likely to miss school due to the transmission of preventable water and faeces-borne diseases when they have no choice but to use unsafe toilets and facilities.
Between June and September 2016, three different groups of Raleigh volunteers worked closely with the Southern Highlands Participatory Organisation (SHIPO) to help construct a new primary school sanitation block in the village of Peluhanda, Njombe. The previous facilities were entirely inadequate for maintaining good sanitation and hygiene among school pupils. This project was generously supported by the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission (G.O.A.C.) and will directly benefit approximately 219 primary school pupils between the ages of 7-13 at the Peluhanda Primary School. The new sanitation block has a Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) room plus multi-purpose incinerator for safe disposal of female hygiene products, as well as general school rubbish. The MHM room adjoins the main sanitation block and provides girls with a safe, private room to use – the aim is to allow more girls who are reaching puberty to comfortably attend school, and therefore not miss out on their education. The outside of the building has been painted with a mural depicting the eight steps of hand washing, and new hand-washing facilities have been installed.
Mr. Faustino, the Head Teacher at the primary school was extremely happy to have Raleigh volunteers living and working in Peluhanda, helping to make a difference in his community. He said, “My favourite aspect of this project is definitely the volunteer led SWASH lessons. Every day after school the volunteers run sessions with the school children to educate them on the importance of hand washing. The children love it – it’s definitely the best part of their day. I hope to be able to keep the sessions going after the volunteers leave.”
Mr Faustino went on to say, “Parents have come up to me and said that they are so happy that [the Raleigh volunteers] are working with their children. They are learning so much. I’m happy that they teach about hygiene, it is very important. The children and parents have said that they wish you could stay.”
Andy, one the UK volunteers said, “The project is really worthwhile and the benefits are clear both long-term and short-term. What we have achieved with Peluhanda is beneficial to the community and to the school. I think everyone involved definitely feels they have achieved something.”
The groups of volunteers conducted School Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (SWASH) lessons with the students of the primary school. Through the use of games, songs, and drama, the volunteers were able to educate the students on the importance of good hygiene and hand washing techniques.
One of our international volunteers, Hu Chao, from China said, “The hygiene element is very necessary for children. Maybe change is slow and difficult, but I believe our behaviour is useful and beneficial. And our approach is good; we can help the children have an effect on their family and community.”
Now that the implementation stage of the project in Peluhanda has ended, Raleigh has moved on to the village of Nundu (which is not too far from Peluhanda) to work on a very similar project. Another sanitation block is currently under construction in Nundu Primary School, which will benefit almost 300 pupils.