In a male-dominated society, women usually take the backstage as silent achievers to all the family’s success.
This is not true for a peri-urban settlement in Nawaeb District in Morobe Province.
The plastic compound as they call it is a community of a mixed multitude of people. It is a community setting where one could least expect a woman to stand out as a natural leader.
Just as unexpected, we met 34-year-old Angela Masit. Angela is a woman leader behind the success of her community achieving its Open Defecation Free Status.
Angela raised her hand to support the Klinpela Komuniti Project community sanitation program. She challenged women and mothers in her district to recognise the critical need for improved sanitation and hygiene.
Not only that, she even gained the support from the community’s influential leaders such as ward councillors, church leaders, and other men to embark on constructing safe toilets and hand-washing facilities for every household in the community.
"When World Vision Officers came and taught us facts about water-borned diseases, oral transmission, it was disgusting for us. We realised that we were killing our children by allowing them to drink and eat water and food contaminated by faces from not doing hand washing and from open-pit toilets that enable flies to access and bring back to the house. As a mother, I was really concerned and felt responsible, “she explained.
Inspired by intervention from the Klinpela Komuniti project, Angela rallied a charitable donation from the community members to support the purchase of cement for the construction of toilet slabs.
"Many of our members cannot afford to buy sago leaves for toilet roofs and cement for the base and seat of their toilets, but we contributed cash as a community and supported everyone to get the basic hardware materials, “she explained.
The plastic compound now has an entire household of over 30 households with safe toilets, installed with Sato pans.
These were funded by the European Union and UNICEF under the Klinpela Komuniti projek. The project is being implemented in Morobe Province and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville by World Vision.
The community was anonymously declared a model community for the WaSH project in Nawaeb for their self-reliance efforts.
When asked why she became so vocal, she responded, “When World Vision officers came to visit us, they showed us how we have been drinking dirty water through poor hygiene and sanitation”.
For Angela, what literally triggers her to take action was her innocent children.
"When children get sick with diarrhea, we would blame it on the food they eat. Not knowing the fact that it is the faecal contaminated water and food, not just the food they eat.
Angela now knows that open defecation, poor hygiene, and sanitation is the cause of 80% of all known diseases induced by poor hygiene and sanitation, and it is the highest killer of children”.
Angela's story continues to tell every mother that WaSH is a family business every woman can make it happen for the children in their community.
It takes one mother to raise her hand and lead the change in creating an open Defecation free community where children are safe from faecal related diseases contracted.