“My interest to work with the WasH committee increased because of the changes I saw in my village, compared to the past, I saw that this was a better of way of living so I support it," says Benjamin.
Benjamin is a father of three and a member of a WasH Committee in his village of Kurunti at the edge of the Pahoturi River in South Fly District, Western Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Our WAVE project implements the Healthy Island Concept (HiC) in his village. The concept is an initiative of the Government of PNG and it encourages a healthy and an organised way of living in local communities such as Benjamin’s.
WAVE stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, voices for Empowerment project. With support from the Australian Government and the PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) the project aims to empower children, women and men to live and promote a healthy way of living.
“Illnesses decreased and I realised that we were changing as a community and our way of living. My children would often get sick and they would hurt themselves with broken bottles nearby because we had no fencing," said Benjamin.
He said that in the past, his yard was bushy and his children would often harm themselves or get sick due to rubbish and waste (faeces).
“I appreciate World Vision for teaching us all we know and now we are living a much cleaner, happier and healthier life compared to the past," he said.
Common illnesses that affected Benjamin-, his family and many others in their community was malaria and diarrhea, diarrhea was more common because they did not know about hygiene and the habit of hand washing.
“World Vision has really brought change, and since then my children no longer fall sick from diarrhea, they only get small cuts or bruises from playing around but no more diarrhea," he said.
Benjamin’s village was not clean and healthy as it is today, he estimated that each year people were dying of curable diseases because of the way they were living.
“By the time World Vision came and when we were educated, we now know what was making us sick and we have decided to change it," he added..
Benjamin once lived with his parents, together with his wife and children but he realised that this should not be the case after we intervened.
He has built a home for his wife and children, a pit toilet with a lid and a door in a nice little hut, tippy taps dangle from his ladder and another beside his dish rack for his children to use and a pit to dump food peels and animal waste.
These are some requirements out of ten from the HiC that the WAVE Project focuses on to inspire and empower Benjamin and other villagers to organise, beautify, improve and empower themselves to promote a healthy way of living.
“Before all of this, I do not wash my hands after using the toilet and I would often have upset stomach but now I don’t do that anymore," he added.
Benjamin has taught his children the importance of hand washing and says that the older children are able to use his self-made Tippy Taps but the younger lads still needs a basin to wash their hands after using the toilet and before eating.