While I lived in Rwanda for 8 weeks, having the most incredible experience of my life on GlobeMed's GrassRoots Onsite Work Internship, I was fortunate enough to visit the Hygiene Program with the program's director, Lucien Nzayirata. In addition to being a student studying Agriculture at the National University of Rwanda, Lucien is in charge of ensuring that the Hygiene Program runs smoothly throughout the year. As he described to us, the Hygiene Program strives to educate local villages about proper and healthy hygiene, choosing one primary school per year where volunteers in the program will help to teach education sessions about hygiene. Volunteers in the Hygiene Program also visit the homes of many of the children's families and conduct at home education sessions. At the end of the academic year, RVCP volunteers select four families from those they visited and build a toilet at each home, giving the family the chance to have a happier, healthier, and more hygienic home.
I accompanied Lucien to a local primary school to observe an education session. The children, whose ages ranged from about 7-12 years old, were very enthusiastic to learn and to respond to what Lucien was describing. Lucien spoke energetically and did a fantastic job of engaging the children about various topics, such as how to properly store water, how to handle foods to be cooked, and how to maintain proper personal hygiene with regards to Rwandan etiquette. The Hygiene Program at large develops a manual of information to disseminate amongst its volunteers who teach education sessions so as to standardize and regulate the information given to the students and their families.
I was very impressed both by how well Lucien's messages seemed to be received by the kids and also by how great of a teacher Lucien was. By reaching out to rural primary schools, actively engaging these children at a young age to follow proper hygenic practices, and attempting to spread hygenic knowledge and capacity to their families, RVCP is truly making a difference in the lives of rural Rwandan families through its Hygiene Program.
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