Fragrance is 4 years old and lives with her grandparents on Guadalcanal. She is currently a student at Anva community’s early childhood kindergarten. Fragrance’s school has no proper sanitation or water source nearby. The community she lives in practices open defecation and collects water from potentially contaminated streams and wells in the bushes for washing, bathing and even drinking. These are the kinds of harmful practices that affect the health of children like Fragrance and robs them of their opportunities in education.
Recently Fragrances’ school was selected among others to participate in the World Vision Solomon Islands Better Learning Environment Project (SIBLE). Supported by UNICEF, the primary goal of the SIBLE project is to improve the health of boys and girls and their learning performances by reducing diseases and illness that result from poor hygiene practices through the introduction of proper hand washing methods and modelled facilities.
“The free stand hand-washing stations are very effective,” shared Genesis the school head teacher and fragrance’s grandfather. The school have scheduled the students to wash their hands twice a day and most importantly after they go to the bath room and before and after they eat their food. The students have also begun to share and spread what they learn from the 8 basic hand washing methods in their homes and other communities they visit.
Genesis shared a surprising encounter with his granddaughter one evening when they visited a relative at a nearby community. As they settled in for dinner, Genesis sat down and immediately reached for his food when 4 year old Fragrance yelled out to him in front of everyone. “Grandad, have you washed your hands already?” she asked. “Like in school, we must always wash our hands from germs before we eat,” she continued. Genesis was quiet embarrassed but was very impressed that her granddaughter have remembered what she learned from the project activities in school. “Because of what she said, we ended up talking about hand washing methods and the importance of hygiene over dinner that evening,” Said a proud Genesis.
“We are very pleased to have World Vision in our community to share the importance of hygiene to the children in our school”, he added. Anva is one of 15 participating schools in the SIBLE project that has never had proper water supply infrastructures in place. SIBLE is the first health program to visit and help people with new ideas to improve their way of living.