A teacher involved in handwashing in Beni

Photo: UNICEF DRC Nybo

“Children listen attentively and take ownership of messages on prevention,” says Jauspin Kambale Mulyatha, a teacher at the Kasanga Primary School in Beni, a city located to the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (DRC).

When an Ebola outbreak was discovered in August in Mangina, only an hour’s drive away from Beni, Jauspin was worried about the start of the school year that was to happen a few weeks later. “We had heard how Ebola had killed numerous people in Equateur province,” says Jauspin.

One week after the start of the school year, only a quarter of the students in his class were present. Many schools had even remained closed for fear of the disease. To encourage the return to school, UNICEF organised a major information campaign on the Ebola virus for school principals and teachers. “They explained to us how to protect ourselves against the disease and prevent its spread,” says Jauspin.

Jauspin is one of 3,000 school principals and teachers who participated in the Ebola awareness sessions. He learnt what the disease is, how it is transmitted, what the symptoms are and what to do if someone has suspicious symptoms. Jauspin also received advice on how to raise awareness among his students, without creating panic or making them anxious.

With the aid of posters and pictures, Jauspin explains to children how it is important to wash their hands to avoid contamination by the disease. “It works well,” he says. All the children wash their hands before returning to the classroom. The teacher hopes the children will apply the good practices learnt in class when they return home and encourage their parents to do the same.

To date, UNICEF has installed hand-washing facilities in 300 schools and provided access to safe drinking water for more than 600,000 people in the affected areas.

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Translated from French by Daphne Wood

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Yves Willemot

Yves Willemot est le chef de l’Équipe InfoCom de l’UNICEF RDC. Plus que tout, ce qui est important pour lui c'est d'être "tous ensemble pour les enfants".

Yves Willemot is Head of the UNICEF DRC InfoCom Team. More than anything, he believes that the most important is to "be together for the children".

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