World Water Day by Deputy Operations Manager Kimberley Burn

23rd March 2018

The teams of young volunteers have chosen to step out of their comfort zones and into water, sanitation and hygiene programming, working to inspire behavioural change.

Our WASH teams are currently living in villages spread across the rural agricultural lands of Kongwa, Mvomero and Kilombero in Tanzania.

The volunteer groups (composed of equal numbers of U.K. and Tanzanian volunteers between the ages of 18-25) are working hand-in-hand with community members in the villages they are working in. Through community action days, mobilisation meetings (with elders, women and youths in each village) and active engagement with the lives and livelihoods of each member of the society, we hope to improve hygiene practices in the communities we work in.

Raleigh’s ‘Youth led School Sanitation and Hygiene’ project establishes school water, sanitation and hygiene (SWASH) clubs.

The children of Kiberege Magereza Primary School playing a game of maji safi, sabuni and daktari (clean water, soap and doctor) with the volunteer group I was team leader for in October 2017. An adapted game of ‘tag’ with bacteria and water-related terms.

The volunteers are working in partnership with the village fundi to construct toilet blocks and hand washing stations. The volunteer teams also work with the SWASH clubs to promote improvements in hygiene practices amongst children and empowering them to encourage WASH behaviour change amongst their peers and wider communities too.

Our direct partnerships with local government authorities support the Government of Tanzania’s WASH initiative, which aims to contribute to the National Sanitation Campaign Programme.

Since early February this year we’ve been working with highly-driven volunteers to equip them with the knowledge and skill to deliver the ICS WASH programme. Seeing the transformation of the wide-eyed, absorbent youths into young leaders and change makers has been truly inspirational. Their understanding of each WASH aspect (including hand hygiene, water safety, food preparation, operation and maintenance of new facilities and menstrual hygiene management) and their ability to share their enthusiasm with their surrounding community is testament to Raleigh International’s belief in the power of youth to create long-lasting behavioural change in the communities in which we work.

Mobilisation meetings ensure that village elders, young people and women are all included in our WASH projects.

Before my position as a deputy operations manager here at Raleigh Tanzania, I was an ICS team leader for a group of 13 volunteers last year based in Bwawani, a small village in the sugarcane valley of the Kilombero region of Tanzania. Living alongside Tanzanian families within these villages for months at a time allows you to fully understand lifestyle choices and recognise the issues which families may have to deal with to provide for themselves and their families.

Around 75% of Tanzanians live in rural households where access to safe water and sanitation is rare.

Deputy operations manager for the ICS WASH programme, Kim Burn (right) with team leader in Mkindo village, Morogoro, Glory.

If leading the youth of Raleigh Tanzania has taught me one overarching lesson, it is that young people are one of the most important resources in the world today: the future of our world is in their hands, the hands of those who can throw themselves into difficult issues the world fasces and return to us smiling with solutions. Given the chance, young people can be leaders at the heart of global development.

Pictured in Bwawani, Kilombero in October 2017 teaching the six stages of hand washing to a group of youths at one of our mobilisation meetings.
Working with the community to encourage safe hand washing habits.

World Water Day highlights some of these issues and brings them to the forefront of our minds.

My fellow deputy operations managers and I have been given the opportunity to guide those who have chosen to face the lack of adequate sanitation and access to safe water with an open mind and determined heart.

Children of Kiberege Magereza Primary School at a completed sanitation block in Bwawani, Kilombero where I was a team leader (December 2017). The mural on the wall translates to ‘The health of the world is in your hands.’

Watching our young volunteers become active global citizens has left me safe in the knowledge that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 is in sight through the hard work of sustainable development charities like Raleigh International and each individual who has made the decision to challenge themselves to change their world.

Vestina, Callum and Ellie who were members of my volunteer group last year, holding. a typical mobilisation meeting with the women in Bwawani village (November 2017).

Stay up to date with the progress of our WASH programme by following our blog and social media.

Words by Kim Burn. Images of work in Bwawani village in 2017 by Kim. Additional images by photographer Hilary Sloane. Edited by communications officer Rebbie Webb.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Tanzania