Friday, April 16, 2010

Teaching for a healthier future


Over these past few months our team has been working to prep health and hygiene lessons in Tamasheq to present to various groups of people. Each month as we receive people for grain aid distribution, we are also offering health and hygiene education sessions, often handing out tools to help with their physical health. This first month the topic was hygiene, hand washing and explaining the concept of germs that make them sick. To link with this teaching we handed out 60 hand-washing stations so far and are in the works to construct many more!

First we taught the hygiene lessons to the men as they arrived. The information was well received and we have been invited to many of their homes to teach their wives and children as well.

One thing we heard when speaking with some of the families was they they didn’t know what was making them sick, or why they had diarrhoea. They had some ideas like bad water or bad food, but also they thought it could be bad spirits, a result of a immoral action or other things. Many of the Tuaregs in the city moved in to the city within the past 10-20 years. When they lived out in the desert they were spread out, there was less contamination and they say there was less illness. Here in the city they are often crammed together, they don’t move around like before as nomads and thus all their “dirty areas” build up and stay close. Close quarters brings more contamination as well. They admitted readily that they had not been able to understand or assimilate some of the changes that living in the city brought.


Prepping the Tippi-tap washing stations.

Boxes of soap to give out. We are planning to distribute bars of soap to the families every month that this food aid distribution runs.

One of our local partners showing other men how to put the water jug in and use it.


Then we took the same teaching material, plus some kid friendly games about hygiene and fun acted out sketches to the kids hut class, where we taught 20-ish children about hand washing.


Using 10 pictures all mixed up to create a story. The story is about one boy who drinks dirty water from a marsh and gets diarrhoea. The story tells how he contaminates others, and other people get sick. The kids had to pick out which picture went where in the storyline and we talked about how they could stop the transmission as well.

Then we marked their hands with Crayola kid’s markers with “Germs!” We hid the marks between their fingers, under their fingernails etc and then they went one by one to the hand-washing stations to wash away the “germs”


Look at all those clean hands!!


After class, they even all went out and washed their hands all over again! Let’s pray that true behaviour change slowly happens and improved hygiene becomes a normal part of their lives.

The week after the kid’s class I went to two different women’s group (hut class girls and the community women’s group) to give the same training.   All the women were great listener’s and asked questions.


They also enjoyed the same game with putting the pictures in order to tell the story of diarrhoea transmission.




We also marked the women’s hands with marker and fake “germs” and they also tried out the hand washing stations.


I love his little foot sticking out the side!


At the end of the class we handed out soap. In addition to what we bought for the aid distribution center, we had 5 large boxes of soap donated through Lutheran World Relief and each box had an assortment of several hundred bars of soap. We hope to hand all these out over the next few months. It was funny to see bars of Zest, Dove, Ivory, no-name and a bunch of tiny hotel soaps all mixed together.


The kids also got in on the loot and took the tiny hotel soaps.


Me with most of the ladies the second class. Thanks for the soap!

Please pray that our efforts to introduce health teaching every month for the next 7 months would pay off not only in bringing better health and hygiene to our national friends and a better quality of life, but also to opening doors to even more relationships for us.


Ellie said...

Love the photos! Interesting to see women with bare arms and yet heads covered. So different than what I am used to!

Alicia & Jon said...

WoW! Amazing seeing all those tippytaps and the soap bars!! :)
Love reading your blog and the amazing work God is doing through you guys there!