It is with great pleasure that we are able to announce the completion of a comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) programme completed for school classes in Year 5-8. Our wash program runs parallel to our other projects, including increasing water security and other basic infrastructure in the region.
The past month has seen a particular focus on our WaSH in Dawasamu District. WaSH plays a key role in a community’s health and has become even more vital since Cyclone Winston. The immediate physical impact and destruction from the cyclone was tremendous, however, it also impacted many sources of clean water and left those villages affected particularly vulnerable to the spread of bacteria and disease.
It is easy to understand that hand washing falls down the list of priorities when rebuilding a community, but its importance is even greater post-cyclone. This is where the WaSH programme comes in; to educate, motivate and protect people through a greater understanding and regular practice of good sanitation and hygiene practices.
The local primary school has been one of the main focuses for the WaSH programme. Units for year groups 1-4 and 5-8 have been created which will be implemented over the next few months by the education team based at Navunisea District School (NDS). This works towards a long-term goal of reducing preventable illness where possible in the Dawasamu District.
In order to ensure that the WaSH lessons were fun, educational, well received and could easily align with the curriculum already set out for the school, lesson plans were designed to be integrated into PEMAC lessons (P.E, Music, Arts and Crafts). These are some of the most popular lessons for both students and teachers and allow important information to be delivered in an engaging context.
One of the most memorable ways to teach basic concepts about using soap, washing hands and sanitary defecation is through songs. Lyrics were written or altered to familiar tunes so that they were easy to pick up and videos were made so that future volunteers and teachers can watch them and hear the words and see the actions together. These worked well in Music lessons and gave them a dual purpose.
A reoccurring theme when talking to people about their current hand washing behaviour is that people will wash their hands if they are visibly dirty but not otherwise. A key part of teaching has been highlighting that germs are microscopic and even though we may look clean we aren't. Part of the challenge with teaching WaSH is making it relevant and comprehendible, especially for the children. To make the invisible visible for the youngest children (years 1-4) a story was written and illustrated. Titled the 'Land of Hands' the story is set on the hand of a Fijian boy called Josefa, a small village lives on his hand with good and bad germs. the bad germs treat the village badly and make Josefa feel ill, to combat this he washes his hands and the bad germs are washed away and everyone lives happily ever after.
WaSH covers a wide range of topics and often dips into others, by starting with a WaSH programme we can progress into other areas like Rain Water Harvesting, purifying drinking water, First Aid and preventing infection.
Many of the resources are locally relevant with hand drawn pictures allowing children in rural areas to relate to the content. The lesson packs, like all other GVI resources, are open source and will be presented to the Fiji government with the option to disseminate to other schools. The programme is also being shared with other GVI hubs worldwide with an aim to adapting to other local contexts.
The GVI Dawasamu Team
Outdoor lesson time!