Last year we flushed your tax-time donation down the toilet. And it changed lives.
We know it sounded a little crazy – “Make a donation so we can flush it down the toilet”, but now we want to share with you the incredible impact your donation had for girls and their communities in Sierra Leone!
Last year we highlighted one of the main barriers to girls accessing education: the lack of education surrounding hygiene and sanitation, and inadequate toilet facilities at school. Over 93% of schools throughout rural parts of Sierra Leone do not have adequate toilet facilities, meaning boys and girls have to pee and poo in unhygienic and unsafe spaces.
For girls, this also means that there is nowhere safe and private to manage their periods – so instead, many choose to stay home during their period, which negatively impacts their grades and quality of education.
We knew we had to address this. And that’s why last year we decided to flush your tax-time donation down the toilet (kinda).
Thanks to your generosity, together we were able to pilot a brand-new program in partnership with Sierra Leone Social Aid Volunteers (SLSAV) to implement water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects in two rural schools in Sierra Leone!
What’s a WASH project?
A WASH project focuses on water, sanitation and hygiene in schools. As part of our two WASH projects, we constructed seven toilet blocks with a total of 18 drop hole latrines (like a fancy drop toilet) as well as hand dug wells to establish a water source so students can always wash their hands!
We also educated students on the importance of hygiene at school and at home. All of our programs are completely community-led, and this one was no exception – so as part of the project 60 leaders within schools and their communities were given WASH training so they can continue to support the project long term. Here’s what it looked like in numbers:
And it’s not just these numbers that are super impressive, we received amazing feedback from the students themselves about how the WASH training has impacted their education and their lives!
“I have been in this school for two and a half years now. I wasn’t feeling fine when I had to go to the toilet in the bush. I was afraid of snakes and I couldn’t wash myself, I used to use a stick to clean with or some paper from my exercise book.
I was so happy when they built the toilets here. It means that now we can keep clean. They teach us to wash our hands after we go to the toilet. I didn’t know about that before. I told my Granny about washing her hands and now she does it more!” – Hawantu
By introducing a water supply into each school, students are educated on some of the ways to prevent a range of hygiene related diseases, meaning they get more time in the classroom!
When students and their families are educated in water, sanitation and hygiene, they are also given the tools needed to prevent the transmission of highly infectious diseases like Ebola. A few years ago, basic WASH education and access to soap and disinfectant were key to slowing down the spread of Ebola. It’s such fundamental knowledge that we often take for granted – but has the ability to (literally) save lives.
So with incredible results like these, we’ve got some big ideas about how to expand this program for the rest of 2018 & 2019!
We’re currently working on expanding our WASH program to four more schools, bringing the overall total up to six! We’re also looking at trialling innovative solutions to the challenges around water, sanitation and hygiene that are environmentally sustainable.
Part of this will be piloting an ecosan latrine at a school. What’s an ecosan latrine? It’s a pretty ingenious drop toilet design, where the pit is filled with sawdust to produce a waste dump that will ALSO serve as manure. Students will then be able to build a community garden, which will generate a small income source for the school!
Together with the school, we’re literally turning poop into gold!
With the expansion of this program, we’re also aiming to educate more teachers and community members in menstrual hygiene management – because no girl should miss out on an education because of her period.
Thanks to you, girls and boys can pee and poo in safe and hygienic loos!
They also have the education they need to make their life and the lives of their family members healthier through the prevention of dangerous diseases.
Together, we’ve made a lasting difference to the lives of girls and boys and their communities in Sierra Leone.
If you’d like to make an end of financial year donation before June 30, you’ll be contributing towards more life-changing educational initiatives just like this one!