Since the launch of the health program, we have come across many obstacles. We have been trying to work out a system how to keep our students’ toothbrushing kits organized and clean. The systems we used previously took a long time to distribute which meant we would lose time from our English lessons. Also, the way the toothbrushes were stored meant we would have to replace them more frequently than usual since the students would often mistakenly use someone else’s toothbrush. After trying several methods, during the last quarter we have hit one very important milestone. We purchased plastic toothbrush holders for every student. Every holder was then labelled which made distributing the toothbrushes quick and easy. Additionally, toothbrushes are now easy to store and they stay clean for longer.
Another obstacle we keep encountering is the negative attitude of our students towards brushing their teeth at the beginning of the classes. Although this attitude is present in all age groups, it is particularly strong among our teenage students. We have faced strong refusal, avoidance and many excuses, all for the purpose of not brushing their teeth at the beginning of the class. In order to start changing this attitude towards dental hygiene, we have organized two workshops during the last quarter. Both of the workshops focused on vividly presenting the negative effects of poor dental hygiene. First workshop was held at the beginning of August and our students’ attitude improved but then we started noticing resilience again so we held another workshop at the beginning of September. The materials used for the workshops were adjusted to the students’ age and involved lots of visual accounts of poor dental hygiene. Since the last workshop, the attitude of our students improved again but we realize it is a constant struggle and we will continue working on developing positive attitudes towards dental hygiene.
This year there has been a spike in dengue fever across Cambodia. Thus we prepared and held a workshop on dengue fever in our Power club. The workshop included the symptoms of dengue fever because lots of Cambodians still aren’t familiar with them and won’t seek medical treatment until symptoms escalate. We also dedicated a big part of the workshop to provide advice on what to do in order to prevent dengue fever. The reactions of our beneficiaries were very positive and they described the workshop as very useful.
In Cambodia, there is very low recognition of mental health issues, although it is estimated that 40% of Cambodians suffer from mental health and psychological problems. The availability of mental health care institutions is very low and some topics involving mental health are still seen as taboo. In September, we organized two workshops on this issue: one was “Coping with stress and emotions” and the other “Women’s mental health”. Both workshops were held both at our Power club and at Cheung Kok Eco-village where we also run educational and women’s empowerment programs. During the workshops, we have witnessed strong positive reactions from our beneficiaries with strong initiatives to include more workshops on this topic.
Thank you for your continued contribution to the GVI Trust Health Program in Cambodia. Your efforts will help us to continue working on the health issues we have already recognized across Cambodia. Furthermore, your efforts will help us expand our work to reach more people and tackle issues we haven’t dealt with so far.
Young people across Kampong Cham struggle to afford basic hygiene equipment such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap. Moreover, awareness as to the importance of maintaining basic hygiene is limited. In order to combat this, we have used the funds raised over the past few months to provide every student at our classes with a toothbrush and soap.
In May 2019 we launched our hygiene kits at various schools and drop-in centres around Kampong Cham. To begin, we provided students with workshops on how to effectively brush their teeth and wash their hands and face. These workshops were facilitated in English and Khmer so that students and staff could be sure that everyone fully understood why personal and dental hygiene were important. At these workshops we then provided all students with a laminated poster that explained through graphics and Khmer, the steps needed in handwashing and toothbrushing.
For now, all students keep their hygiene kits at school. This is because we would like to initially monitor student’s hygiene routines and ensure that they know how to use them and become used to using them on a daily basis. Moving forward, we will continue to monitor students and as they begin to use their kits more independently, we will begin to allow them to take their kits home before bringing them back to class. If students show value and care in the kits and personal hygiene then the ultimate goal is for students to keep their kits at home so that they may use them twice daily. Then when they require more toothpaste, soap or their toothbrush becomes worn, they will be able to restock at their schools.
Over the past year we have run several fundraisers to enable us initiate this project and sustain it into the future. We thank everyone who has contributed and are excited to see our student’s hygiene improve over the coming months and years.
GVI Cambodia Healthcare
We have now collected over 100 toothbrushes and raised nearly $500 to put towards completing our hygiene kits with toothpaste and soap.
Young people across Kampong Cham struggle to afford basic hygiene equipment such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap. Moreover, awareness as to the importance of maintaining basic hygiene is limited. In order to combat this, we have been raising money to provide a hygiene kit to all 200 students of ours.
Our hygiene kits will be provided to each and every student we teach across the province. Each hygiene kit will consist of a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap. In order to ensure these kits are properly utilised, we will be introducing these kits within week long workshops at each centre we teach in. These workshops will focus on why it is important to maintain hygiene and will also teach a step-by-step of how to brush your teeth and how to wash your hands.
Our January fundraiser saw all volunteers collect toothbrushes across the capital city of Phnom Penh. These were collected from interested hotel chains who could spare toothbrushes they would otherwise supply to guests. We collected around 100 toothbrushes and now have one for each student. We also raised nearly $500. These funds will be spent on ensuring each student has toothpaste and a bar of soap. It will also be spent on ensuring that the project continues: our students will be able to receive another toothbrush should theirs become worn and receive more toothpaste and soap when they have used theirs.
We are excited to roll out our workshops and hygiene kits in May. Thank you to all who donated and have made this possible!
All the best,
GVI Cambodia Healthcare
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