Happy New Year!
In this report, we want to let you know what happened during the last months of 2013 in our project “32 girl-friendly schools in Bolivia”. As you know, this project is about teaching and practicing simple methods for improving water, sanitation and hygiene conditions to kids at schools in the municipality of Independencia (Bolivia), with a special focus on gender-sensitive issues like menstrual hygiene management.
In general, the project has been advancing well in 2013. The teachers, students, directors and community leaders accepted with much delight the simple ways of disinfecting water and the habits of improving hygiene and sanitation conditions, not only at school where they are trained, but also extending these to their homes.
One project highlight of 2013 was the celebration of World Handwashing Day on October 15. The activity was held as an educational marketplace at Independencia’s main square, with each participating school presenting its own creative stand. The professors of the schools expressed their support and helped the children to prepare the event even though it was exams period. Monica Mamani, a teacher at the “Laura Vicuna” school said, “We participated even though there were a lot of activities in the school and it was worth it, only bringing the tables to the main square was costly because of the buses but besides that, everything was easy.” On his part, the District Director of Education was the master of ceremonies and inaugurated the event World Handwashing Day.
The children from one school performed a street theater with mimes, demonstrating the consequences of washing hands and including the topic of water pollution. Children from another school explained different methods of water disinfection, and others presented a sociodrama with puppets which made a splash with the audience.
In November, Margoth Garcia, the project facilitator of the SODIS Foundation, organized what would be the first,. “General Assembly of the Water Committees”, composed of the schoolchildren in Independencia. This assembly brought together 194 child leaders from 18 schools. The event was supported by the Mayor and inaugurated by the District Director Oscar Teran who expressed his happiness to take part in this activity and at the end of his speech directly told the children: “You represent the best of the Independencia district!” At the end of the assembly, the professors closing the ceremony stated that, “The assembly was a success, a unique experience, and I am very happy to have been part of this project.”
As you can see, within a short time this project managed to bring about significant changes and positive impacts to the schools and families of Independencia. We are looking forward for the new school year to start soon (in Bolivia, the educational cycle goes from January to December), and our project team is getting prepared for a lot of activities in 2014. On behalf of the whole project team, I would like to thank you for your support and invite you to be a part of this project. Together, we shall take this project onto the next level in 2014!
We wanted to let you know about exciting developments regarding our project in 40 schools in Tiquipaya (Bolivia). As we reported earlier, the project has been going really well, with teachers, kids and parents learning many new ways on how to prevent diseases and improve quality of live at schools as well as at home. Over the past two years, we reached more than 10,000 kids and trained more than 500 teachers, thus significantly improving living and learning conditions of 40 schools in the municipality of Tiquipaya.
The project has been received well by beneficiaries, but also by authorities of the municipality and the Ministry of Education at district level. Given that this project directly improves health status of children, we are now talking to a major NGO in Bolivia to bring this intervention to larger scale. We currently can not give away names, but we are preparing an external evaluation for the project for spring 2014, and we are identifying additional areas where the next phase of the project can be implemented.
The positive impact of the project can be observed every day at the project schools and families. Safe drinking water is available to all kids, and hygiene practices such as hand washing have improved drastically. As Trifonia Ricaldi, a teacher in one of the schools said: "My kids no longer miss classes because of stomach problems or pains." Well, we think that this is significant, and we want to let more people benefit from these simple solutions for saving lives.
On behalf of the whole project team, I want to thank you very much for being part of this initiative. We are sure that in 2014, we can take this project to a next level, and hope that you want to join us in this journey.
PS: Starting December 20, a co-funding campaign starts to support recurring donations (recurring donations are donations which continue over a period of time, repeating the same amount for several times). For all recurring donations which start after December 20 and continue for at least 4 months, we will receive an additional monthly contribution from the GlobalGiving Foundation, so your donation will have even more impact. And don't forget, you can also donate in the name of someone, which makes for a great gift.
For the second half of November, our field staff has been busy with the evaluation of the project in Anzaldo. They interviewed dozens of children and adults, they organized group discussions, but also carried out in-depth conversations with authorities at schools and at the municipality in order to collect data on the outcomes and results of this project. In the next few weeks, we will work on the final report, which we then also will share with institutional partners and other organizations working in the sectors of education, water/sanitation, and health.
As you may remember, this project is part of a larger disaster risk-reduction program of the municipality. Therefore, several organizations working in the field of emergency aid and risk reduction are very much interested to learn more about the project, the results and the lessons learned. We will present the final report at the working group for disaster relief in Bolivia in 2014, and you will be able to download it from our website as well.
Most of our field activities have concluded by now. However, we will maintain contact with schools and the municipality in order to make sure the healthy habits learned throughout 2013 will continue in the new year, creating lasting benefits for children and their families. If we continue to receive donations for this project in the next few weeks, we will use the funds to spread the lessons learned to additional organizations – and we are considering the option of shooting a video – so please stay tuned.
In the meantime, we wish you a happy Christmas season, End-Of-the-Year, or whatever reasons there are to celebrate.
The whole project team at the SODIS Foundation