How do you get school children excited about washing their hands? How do you get a community to be interested in keeping their water clean by throwing their rubbish in a bin? There are no simple answers to these questions but, through the ACF program, WSUP is trying to change the habits of a whole community.
Kotei is a poor urban community in Ghana’s second largest city, Kumasi. At a local school, the children are proudly holding up the posters they have made showing messages such as “Clean environment gives good health”, “Keep Kotei clean” and “Always wash your hands with soap”. They are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a brass band.
The band begins to march and a procession weaves through the principal streets of Kotei where other members of the community join in. Shop keepers call out words of encouragement, children jump about and some young men show off their dancing skills. Through this jovial atmosphere the children hold up their signs with pride and it is very clear what the purpose of the day’s parade is.
As the procession comes to an end and participants congregate at the school, it is time for the serious side of the day’s events. Community leaders make educational speeches to explain the importance of good hygiene and give specific examples of how the children can improve their own hygiene in their daily lives. The children spell out campaign slogans by tracing letters on the ground using their hips and giggle at their fellow classmates. The children are encouraged to take these messages home to their parents so that the whole community can benefit from the campaign. One of the children exclaimed, “We’ve had so much fun today. I’m going to tell my family all about it!”
After the speeches, the band starts up again. The children dance and sing enthusiastically and dust flies everywhere. Everyone is having a truly wonderful time.
This parade is an example of how WSUP engages communities to improve their own hygiene practices. Educational campaigns such as this are crucial to the success of the ACF project in Kumasi.
Story and photos from Catherine Teal, CARE Intern from Canada