21st July 2014
Team 7 has now been working in the village of Mingara for 3 weeks. Each morning the village children traipse past our camp on their way to school, the local farmers begin to harvest and our next door neighbors chicken begins to crow - these are the daily rhythms that keep us in tune. The water point opens late, and a neighbor’s cow takes a nibble at our tippy tap soap as the kettle boils for breakfast lunch and dinner. We assign daily tasks; we plan for the days ahead, take tea and coffee and set off to work.
While women in town roll out japatis, turn over crisp vitambua and mandazi, Team 7 has their own tasks at hand. The first week consisted of introductions to village executive officers, to the hamlet leaders and to the community as a whole. After introducing Raleigh we began to complete household surveys in the surrounding hamlets, and to speak to a wide range of people in their homes and in the market. Apart from helping us to understand the village and familiarize ourselves with local customs, we learnt a lot about the way people live and the current issues they face. Based on our findings we began our awareness raising campaigns, which we decided would focus on hand washing at key times with soap and water, and promoting the connection between germs and illness.
We have completed hand washing workshops in Mingara market using a makeshift tippy tap. This involved demonstrating good hand washing techniques with soap, and we used coffee and oil on our hands to illustrate how germs can be spread. We repeated this session in the surrounding hamlets and in the local primary school. We adapted our teaching style to accommodate songs, energizers and more repetition for the children. Later in the day we were delighted to hear the children singing our hand washing song as they walked home.
In Tanzania the under 5 child mortality rate is very high with children often falling ill due to diseases relating to poor sanitation. The work Team 7 is completing with the community is vital in promoting good water and sanitation practice and confronting these issues. If the children practice effective hand washing and don’t get sick, they can spend more time in school learning. This is also important for other community members, such as mother caring for their babies in reducing easily preventable disease. Business men and women and farmers will also be able to spend more time earning a living if their health is improved. These are all vital elements in working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
It has now become very apparent to Team 7 that a group of volunteers working alongside a community is vital in promoting positive change. It will take time for change to occur but local people have already highlighted how inspired they are that a group of diverse people have travelled from many different places to work with them towards a common goal.
Team 7 has helped to set up a local women’s youth group, and for our first meeting we invited some women to our camp for cooking lessons. We completed a ‘tippy-tap’ demonstration and discussed methods to sanitize utensils before cooking or eating. After just one evening we noticed a change in confidence in both the volunteers and local women. From a small first meeting in our camp we hope the groups will continue to inspire each other and other women in the village.
The village executive officer of Mingara also highlighted his the importance of grass-roots development in the community;
‘Seeing the diversity of Raleigh volunteers, reminds us that we are one people’
Village Executive Office Mingara.
There is still much to do, we will continue with our awareness raising campaign and also hope to begin construction for primary school latrines, as well as working with the community groups and the people of Mingara and surrounding areas.