Improving sanitation in a school in Ghana

Hand washing demonstration

Vera Allotey demonstrates hand washing to school children in Denkyira, Ghana.

Editor Note: Rotary International partners with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support lasting, positive change in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). This is part of a series of occasional blog posts from local Rotary members describing their visits to project sites.

By Vera Lamiley Allotey, Rotary Club of Accra Dansoman

In July, I left my home with fellow Rotarians to visit Upper Denkyira East in the central region of Ghana to see progress on water and sanitation projects. Despite riding in a very new vehicle, the ride was bumpy due to poor road conditions. But we enjoyed talking and learning about the Rotary-USAID partnership during our more than six-hour journey. I was encouraged by what I saw and the impact Rotary is having in the region.

After a necessary meeting with the municipal assembly in Denkyira, we arrived at a secondary school to inspect latrines that had been built. The headmaster welcomed us and showed us the changing room that had been created for girls. I showed the students how to properly wash their hands using the bucket stands that we donated to the school and two students were asked to demonstrate the proper techniques to their friends. We then moved to the borehole and the project manager led us in a series of stroke tests to determine the water flow from the pump. All was in working order.

Welcome innovations

I learned about some very innovative and creative things the headmaster was doing with the help of the PTA. He had set up a fee to be collected from parents that could be used to purchase toilet rolls, disinfectant and sanitary pads for girls to make sure there would be a continuous adequate supply. Sanitary pads were dispensed according to need, and one male and female teacher were placed in charge of dispensing toilet rolls and pads, cutting down on waste. The facility and supplies have really reduced the rate of absenteeism on the part of girls during their menstruation cycle. This is a very good thing.

We also made a courtesy call to the town chief, because it was in walking distance and we wanted to pay appropriate homage to him as custodian of the land. He had also helped ward off unscrupulous individuals who had wanted to intrude on the facilities before their completion. We conveyed to him our gratitude and he told us how pleased he was with the project and promised to help us make sure it continued.

The next day, we toured the market in Dunkwa before heading to Dunkwaso to visit the second project site, a toilet facility for a special school affiliated with the Methodist Church that teaches children with disabilities. I had many conversations with the head teacher, PTA members, and specially-trained teachers, who explained how they integrate visually and hearing impaired students into normal activities to enhance their emotional, psychological, and social well-being, preparing them for their years beyond school.

Rotary is very good

I was encouraged when the PTA chairman informed us that they would be deducting money from the PTA dues to buy disinfectants for the facility and employing someone to maintain it. I recommended they get in contact with the Community Development Unit of the Assembly, whose mandate is to train youth how to use various disinfectants and soap. They could get the supplies at a cheaper rate and also provide valuable skills to some of the youth that they could use later.

After we bid our goodbyes, we promised to visit within the next quarter to check on the upkeep of the facility. All in all, it was an enlightening trip. And I left feeling that Rotary is indeed very good.

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