Thanks to support from our partners the children at My Journey pre-school can now look to a brighter future. Follow the story to find out more…
How we discovered ‘My Journey’ pre-school
There are over 9,000 pre-schools across Malawi and sadly 75% of these schools are nothing more than a shell with no access to basic sanitation. We work with the local government, district health authorities and communities to identify which pre-schools are overlooked from other help and therefore need support.
Shockingly, out of 374 pre-schools in Blantyre, only 14 had child-friendly toilets and only 2 had safe water on site. One of these 358 pre-schools is called ‘My Journey’ which is where we chose to work.
My Journey: The facts
In total, 112 children between 3 and 5 years old attend My Journey pre-school – 53 girls and 59 boys and there are 4 caregivers who look after the children whilst at school. The facilities at the pre-school are also used outside of school hours by the parents and siblings of the children in the wider community.
Previously, My Journey pre-school and the community relied on an open well (below image) for their water, and there were no child-friendly toilets. The children at the school often got ill from waterborne illnesses such as cholera and diarrhoea.
The facilities at My Journey have changed beyond recognition! Before, what used to be holes in the ground have transformed into ventilated improved toilets. They now have 2 blocks of loos, one for boys and one for girls, something that the older girls in the community will particularly benefit from. We also installed 4 separate hand washing facilities – one outside each of the toilet blocks and two near the kitchen for handwashing before and after food.
Now the school has water the caregivers have set up a kitchen garden and have already planted seeds for Mustard, Okra, Pumpkins and Tomatoes. The produce will be used to surplus children’s school meals.
The new facilities are the obvious change at the pre-school, but perhaps the more significant change is more subtle and harder to see! We trained caregivers at My Journey to use creative methods including songs, stories and plays to engage the children in the importance of good hygiene practices including handwashing after using the toilets and before eating. The adults of the community were involved too and were explained (in slightly more grown-up terms) the link between poor hygiene and illness in their families. The natural leaders within the community were encouraged to be chief advocates of good hygiene behaviour who will carry on spreading the message long after we leave.
The future of ‘My Journey’
112 children and 4 caregivers have directly benefitted from this project at ‘My Journey’. But it doesn’t stop there, a further 200 people in the surrounding villages have also learnt the value of good hygiene and are able to use the facilities outside of school hours. The impact will last for many years ensuring that every new intake of children will be taught these valuable lessons.
This project is an example of how once the importance of clean water and safe hygiene behaviour is taught to children then their parents, siblings and wider community begin to change their habits too and continue to pass this onto their families and future generations.
Find out more about our pre-school programme and visit our Early Childhood Development page.
If you’d like to sponsor a project like this then get in touch with our team and email email@example.com.