Better hygiene starts with education

Rose Odero, School Teacher

Rose Odero has been teaching at Pandpieri Primary, Obunga for 16 years.  The school has more than a thousand pupils between 3 and 15.  She sees the new health club as crucial for the children in her care. Most of the children live in homes without clean water and with poor sanitation.  So helping them to become more aware of health issues and the importance of hand washing has had a great impact.

“Children would suffer from diarrhoea and stomach aches. There was a time when there was a cholera outbreak and one of our staff members passed away. After that, the children become more aware.

“At this school, we have taps for drinking water. The health club taught people to have their own personal water bottles instead of using their dirty hands to drink directly from the tap. Before, children didn’t use soap when washing their hands. Children have been taught to make soap at school. They even sell surplus to sustain the club. When the children go to the toilet, they now wash their hands with soap.  The health club do demonstrations at assembly for proper handwashing to the rest of the school.

"I have a little boy of my own, he is only 5 years old. He has seen demonstrations and now at home, he tells me, no it’s not done this way! It’s really impacting on children, they are now doing it themselves and they can now show other children how to do it the right way."

A Safe Pair of Hands: Health Club

Makena, Health Champion

Twelve year old Makena lives in Obunga with her parents, four sisters and two brothers.  She is a pupil at Pandpieri school. She was concerned about how often her friends missed school through illness, so decided to do something positive and joined the health club.

"I can see that every day people are off school because they are sick.  It's usually stomach problems.  I too have been off school for stomach problems."

School health clubs are teaching children good hygiene practice through song and dance as well as more conventional lessons. Children love to copy their friends so this is a great way of sharing good handwashing messages.  

Makena is also using her health club champion training to help her family. 

“I have told my mother about everything I learned in health club and now, every morning, she makes sure that she boils our water before drinking. She doesn’t want us to be sick. My sisters now make sure they wash their hands before eating and after visiting the toilet.” 

This desire to spread information fills Makena with enthusiasm.

“I want to be a journalist when I grow up. I love it when you explore and learn about things so you can take the news to the people.”

Mito Milembo, Community Health Volunteer

Mito has been a Community Health Volunteer in Nylanda for 15 years. He works in partnership with local leaders, village elders and landlords to help improve their environment and is pleased to see that things are gradually getting better.  He is keen to educate people and show them the difference a clean environment can make to their lives and to their health. 

“Before there were many different families using one toilet and no one was cleaning them. We had to do some serious education. Mostly we teach about handwashing and how they can use the toilet, it’s very important.

“We have a maternal clinic and link the community to this. We have so many problems with nutrition - this is part of our house visits. It’s good to help people, especially mothers to feed their children.

Community Health Volunteers have a major impact in their communities. The hygiene practices they are encouraging have reduced the number of cases of diarrhoeal disease as people begin to understand the transmission route from faeces to food. 

Mito is enthusiastic about his role.

"This is part of our life not just our job. I’m happy to be in a good environment, even though we don’t get paid but to have a clean and comfortable place, it’s better than a place that’s smelling. The community now understand where to go with a health problem, they now know where to go and who to ask. The community feels our impact.”

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