Championing Hygiene – from Schools to Community

Australian Red Cross (ARC) | Jenni Lillingston from Australian Red Cross (ARC) Bangladesh, on 06/09/2017 15:54 AEST

Mousumi is an indigenous student in year 9 in Rangpur District, Bangladesh. Before the introduction of the Children’s Hygiene and Sanitation Training (CHAST) sessions, Mousumi had little concern about her own, or others, hygiene. CHAST is a key tool used within a broader schools based approach implemented by Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) under the Community Development Initiative (CDI) 2 WASH funded through CS-WASH. The program encourages children to actively participate in open discussions and to share their experiences and ideas on good hygiene practices with their peers.

Since participating in CHAST, Mousumi has significantly changed her perception on WASH behaviors: she now promotes critical times for washing hands and brushing teeth, has set up a specified place in her home for waste, and has learnt how to hygienically manage menstruation. “Our teachers taught us all of this with the easiest and funniest way possible. Now I don’t feel shy to talk about menstruation, and I look forward to applying all the teachings I have learnt,” said Mousumi.

Based on assessment results, Mousumi is now recognised as the CHAST Champion for her school and within her community; all families now know of Mousumi.  “I felt proud, not because I could answer all the (exam) questions but for becoming the icon who others will get inspired to learn and apply good WASH behaviors in their life” said Mousumi.

Her family and neighbors commonly ask her to teach them about improving their hygiene. “Although people know, it’s not easy to turn them into habits but they try hard, and I with my other CHAST mates remind them of the importance of living a hygienic life” said Mousumi.

Mousumi, who aspires to being a doctor, has a dream of continuing to help people improve their hygiene.  She noted that “since the CHAST program started the occurrence of diarrhea, hepatitis, typhoid and other water borne diseases has reduced significantly in this area.” She does however hold concerns about the ignorance of Menstrual Hygiene Management among villagers. She plans to help build better understanding and recognition of this in the future.

Prepared by Mr Talha Tasnim, Mr Biplob Kanti Mondal and Ms Jenni Lillingston