Part of the SWASH (School – Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) project has involved creating a SWASH club within Peluhanda Primary School from a selected group of students, where we teach them the importance of hygiene, and equip them with the skills and confidence to spread the word to others. It is important to focus on educating the youth population as change needs to start from bottom up. Without a doubt, youth are the future.
Young people often have new and innovative ideas, which can be effective in driving sustainable change. Young people are also more open to learning new things and will be more likely to excitably share what they have learned with friends and family members that SWASH can’t reach. Children are an excellent vehicle of information transfer, simply because of their child-like nature and tendency to share their daily experiences to everyone they come into contact with. When we asked Mr. Faustino, the Head Master of Peluhanda School, he said that “children are free from adult responsibilities, so it is much easier for them to focus on assimilating and applying the knowledge they learn”.
Mr Faustino in his home in Peluhanda
In our short time in Peluhanda we have observed a high level of willingness of children to learn new concepts and ideas that the team has expressed to them in our various SWASH sessions. We have developed a number of different tactics to deliver information regarding good hygiene practices, such as a variety of games, interactive songs and jingles that capture the children’s attention, and dramas or role plays.
Venturers from Alpha Two (Phase Two) running a SWASH lesson at Peluhanda Primary School
Initially our SWASH lessons were exclusive to only SWASH members. The idea was that the SWASH members would act as ambassadors, spreading the word of good hygiene and hand washing amongst their peers at school and in the community. However we realised that a club of 20 children in a school that accommodates over 300 was a relatively small proportion of children and therefore we decided to try and increase the number of SWASH club members. The Volunteer Managers set up a meeting with Mr Faustino, who agreed to increase the number of students he sends to the SWASH club every afternoon. We now get 50 – 60 students attending each day, which is fantastic.
Members of the SWASH club from Peluhanda Primary School
We believe that in order to fully harness the potential of young people in creating lasting change, we first need to build their confidence so they feel capable and bold enough to pursue and vocalize their passions, and to rally others together to join in their cause. With this, we hope that even as we leave this village, the young SWASH ambassadors will continue to practice and pass on the knowledge and skills they have learnt to members of the wider community in Peluhanda and further afield.
Fun and games at the local football field at the end of a SWASH lesson
By Camille, Gemma, Jahson and Julia
Photos by Steve Freeman