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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.