By PDG Sandy Forster, District 5810; Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group Board of Directors
The young girl shyly holding my hand took me on a tour of her school – similar, yet strikingly different, from the schools I knew at home, half a world away. The students were eager to have a visitor and excited to show me their work. Since supplies were limited, I could see many students sharing paper, short nubby pencils and schoolbooks.
I noticed in the upper primary school grades, four through eight, the classrooms had fewer students, especially girls. The headmaster explained many children drop out of school, girls especially, to help their mothers bring water from creeks or rivers or because they don’t have access to bathrooms as they reach the age when menstrual cycles begin. He went on to share this particular school didn’t have a water source, nor toilets or even latrines for the students to use.
This first experience visiting a Rotarian-led water and sanitation project site has stayed with me throughout the years. WASH in School programs are vital for community development and growth. Because of these programs, we are able to see positive changes for families, villages, and nations. School dropout rates decline, health improves as fewer diseases spread, and economic growth accelerates.
In the years following my first WASH trip, I made several more trips to this village. The homes and the school now have easy access to clean water. Toilet blocks have been built at the school and homes have added latrines with toilets. All grades are full with both boys and girls learning, and the dropout rates have declined. Children became ‘teachers’ to parents and grandparents about sanitation and hygiene. Micro businesses have grown. And it all began with water.
Now as a member of Wasrag (Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group), I have the opportunity to help other clubs and districts with their WASH projects. Wasrag has teamed up with Rotary to offer a three-part webinar series to assist clubs and districts with their WASH in Schools projects. The series will feature ideas and best practices from experts in the field to help you start or expand your projects.
Join us to learn how you can make a bigger impact in your community through WASH in Schools.
Reserve your spot now using the links below. Note that the time is Chicago time (UTC-5); convert to your local time.
Part 1: Thursday, 15 October, 10:00-11:00
An Introduction to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools
Part 2: Tuesday, 20 October, 10:00-11:00
WASH in Schools beyond toilets and tap: Behavior change through hygiene education
Part 3: Tuesday, 27 October, 10:00-11:00
Engaging your community through WASH in Schools