The Malawi WASH Movement Initiative
 
Last week, Mr. Chuma, the water monitoring assistant I am working with, and myself visited two villages to implement the WASH movement. We spend the afternoons of Monday and Tuesday with the children in Chapamba village and Wednesday and Thursday with the Samson village children. It was awesome to spend the week with children; I too easily forget the magic they are capable of.
 
 
It was quite interesting to the see the implementation of the MWMI and I am glad I was given the opportunity (although I am sure it was a bit of a nuisance to Mr. Chuma and the village headmen because I was repeatedly asking for translations…). When we arrived to the villages and waited with the village headmen for the children to gather, Malawian time is like EWB time: everything runs one or two hours behind. Once the children had gathered Mr. Chuma requested a prayer from one of the villagers, explained the intensions for our visit, and then opened the terracotta-soil-floor to questions. From there, it was all focused on the children. The children were asked questions about what they knew about sanitation, the WASH movement, and UNICEF. Where the children were unsure, Mr. Chuma provided them with information (i.e. the four critical times to wash their hands: after the using a latrine, before preparing food, before eating food, and after changing babies, what UNICEF stands for, what WASH stands for, etc.) Mr. Chuma asked the children if they knew any ‘pro-sanitation’ songs and then taught them two new ones. We also handed out posters to be hung around the village and the forms the children were to use during the household audits. Mr. Chuma explained the process for filling in the forms and that if they faced any problems they should seek the help of the village headmen. 
 
The children in both villages seemed a bit timid and unsure of themselves on the first day, but by the second day they seemed more enthused. Actually in Champamba, something really marvelous happened. Mr. Chuma and I were invited into a house for supper and half way through, we could hear the children singing energetically. I went out to take a look and they were dancing, using sticks as microphones, and putting on quite a show. At that point, I thought wow, there is definite potential for this initiative to really change things, but of course, we will have to wait and see the results. 
 
Some of my thoughts on the process…
Mr. Chuma presented himself as a very personable and capable facilitator. He was able to communicate the constraints facing the DWO in terms of providing hardware subsidies and to encourage the children to carry the WASH project forward. The children were fairly shy and not entirely attentive, I wonder if they were sufficiently encouraged to get up and move and lend their ideas to the program; the format seemed lecture based with a couple opportunities for questions. I also think I might have been a hindrance to the program. Some of the children were paying more attention to what I was doing than what Mr. Chuma was telling them. One thing really positive was that some children present themselves immediately as leaders. Mr. Chuma was able to spot this and encourage them to ‘step up.’ Once one child was truly engaged, the others seemed to follow. They also loved getting their video taken; I can’t wait to show you all at home!           

 

colleen