I met three wonderful young girls in Ethiopia. They are students at the Adadi Primary School. Officers in the school’s WASH club, they are strong leaders in bringing their community up out of poverty.
The Angolela Area Development Project of World Vision has been hard at work helping the community with education, health, clean water, and livelihood. World Vision sponsors 5000 children in the area and has a budget of $1.3 million (US DOLLARS) About 3/4 of that comes from Child Sponsorship. (You can choose to help by sponsoring one of these lovely children.)
What exactly is a WASH club? One of the hardest parts of providing clean water to communities is educating the people about the need for sanitation and hygiene. Drilling the wells is relatively easy. Changing a culture can be more of a challenge.
That is where the schools can really help. The Adadi Primary School has dedicated teachers for 942 students in grades K-8. Many of these children have seen the new water wells drilled and have been taught the importance of hygiene. In Adadi, three young girls lead 45 students in the “WASH Club.” They gave a confident, articulate presentation to our group of visitors last month. President Yeshie described the five committees: Outreach, Beautification, Fundraising, Cleaning Latrines, and Facilities. For outreach, they prepare skits and presentations for the community on the importance of using latrines and washing hands before eating, preparing food and after using the bathroom. The Beautification committee plants flowers on campus and helps create artwork for the schoolyard. Fundraising includes a raffle-type event!
These girls understand the positive impact that clean water has had on their lives. They realize they had to miss a lot of school in the past when they were sick, and this kept them from excelling academically. Now they see opportunities for further education and for careers that would take them beyond just marrying young and having household jobs.
Bizuneh Bizu, 15, vice president of the WASH club, says: “We draw water from a nearby stream to bring back to grow flowers and vegetables on the school yard. We teach the other children to keep the environment clean. Every Friday we clean the latrines. We provide soap or ash in a plastic bag.”
“WASH is all about health. Since we got familiar with basic knowledge, we are transforming and transmitting knowledge to our families. WASH is beyond hygiene. It empowers girls and woman. It puts us on equal footing. We understand our rights, that women aren’t meant just to serve men. We can do what men do,” says Yeshie Derbie, 14, club President.
The girls are passionate about water and all that cleanliness will do for them. They strive to influence other students to join them as they pass the new habits on to their families.
The club encourages families to build a home latrine and use it. “We go home to home to figure out who has a latrine,” says Aster Reta, 16. “They are marked red, for none, yellow, for in process, and green for done.”
This is how the world will be changed.
When we met them at school, on a Saturday I might add, the WASH club appeared singing and wearing headbands proclaiming, “WASH is Life.” It was overwhelming.
I have seldom met students of this age so fully engaged in something so important. These girls will do great things. Perhaps they will hold office one day in the beautiful country of Ethiopia. They may be doctors or teachers or engineers. I look forward to watching them grow and become what God has planned for them.