YOUNG REPORTER – In DRC, the Democratic and Health Survey (DHS 2013-2014) noted that every second household, i.e 50% of households, has neither water nor soap, nor any other type of cleaning product to wash hands. This reflects, to a certain point, the lack of proper handwashing culture of most of the Congolese population.
The issue of cholera in Ituri
The Ituri district has experienced, at the start of the year (just like last year), several cases of cholera, most likely linked to a bad hand hygiene and using non-drinkable water. This leaves a lot of room for progressive behaviour improvement. Just like in most of the country, World Handwashing Day was celebrated. It was organised by the urban subdivision of Bunia in collaboration with MUSACA, a Bunia health insurance, and the “Enfants Reporters” (Children Reporters).
A day to reduce the risks linked to a bad hand hygiene
On the Boulevard de la Liberation, almost 1500 students from various schools met for a peaceful march. After that, different speeches were given on the main grandstand of the city of Bunia.
“If we chose to invite the schools, it is so that the students can master the proper way to wash hands, and can widly propagate the proper handwashing message in their schools, families and respective communities. Risks linked to bad hygiene diseases have to be limited, not only in schools but in the whole community” Etienne DYOTI declared, the urban sub-district representative of the Ministry of Education in Bunia, during his address.
Proper handwashing contest
As soon as the speeches were over, we witnessed the specificity of this World Day: the 21 schools had to select their own representative student to participate in the proper handwashing game contest. A first in our district. A jury made of two members of the Children Counselling Club, the Children’s Parliament as well as MUSACA was responsible for carefully monitoring and if possible interrogating the representative during the handwashing demonstration.
The winner of the day was 12-year-old Justin, from Nyakasanza EP3. The Jury declared him to be the best student, as he properly washed his hands, respecting all the different steps. He scored 96%.
“I learnt how to make my own handwashing device and, today, I’m the happiest of all. Even without great means, handwashing good practice is necessary to avoid different diseases, particularly in children. I encourage all of us to make people more aware of this good practice” Justin said, very happy to have won the contest.
A cheaper habit that can save lives
Thanks to this title, he will benefit from 6 free months of school for the current school year. The runner-up gets 2 free months and the 2nd runner-up gets 1. These expenses will be covered by the urban sub-division of Bunia. MUSACA offered a handwashing device to each school so that they could keep on practicing in school.
To end the day, Her Excellency the Ituri District Minister of Health, Ms LAURENCE MAKUSI, demonstrated proper handwashing and asked the participants to make handwashing a habit since according to her, it is cheaper but can save lives. She also promised her involvement in making sure schools adopt a proper handwashing habit by installing devices to ensure children’s survival, as per the CDE’s request.
The Enfants Reporters rallied to change behaviours
In order to establish a good handwashing practice, close to 33,717 pupils from 53 schools in and around Bunia were educated in 2015 by us, Enfants Reporters, in collaboration with MUSACA and with the support of UNICEF. At the same time, we created 8 school brigades per school to check on different hygiene measures (handwashing, toilet cleanliness, classroom cleanliness, etc.).
According to the proper handwashing investigation report, the proper handwashing rate went from 0 to 49.7% after this awareness and education project. This result shows that it is possible to change habits.
We ask the Congolese Government to think of children’s health at school. The perpetuation of this practice is necessary. It is only possible if everyone, at their own level, prove they want to ensure the survival of every child.
We, Enfants Reporters, organised this World Handwashing Day with what we had. “To each their own mean, to each their own hand washer” was the Day’s motto to remind all the participants to use whatever means they have to practice washing hands.
More information about the cholera outbreak
Translated from French by Astrid Gouriten
David a rejoint le Club d'Ecoute pour Enfants en 2012. Deux ans après, il en est devenu le porte-parole puis en 2015, le coordonnateur. La même année, David est devenu Enfant Reporter. Il présente également diverses émissions sur les droits de l'Enfant. "Parler des droits de l'Enfant via les médias, c'est ma préférence". David étudie le droit à Bunia et rêve de travailler à la défense des droits des plus vulnérables.
David joined the Children's Listening Club in 2012. Two years later, David became the spokesperson and in 2015 the coordinator. That same year, David became a child reporter. Since 2014, David has hosted various programmes on child rights. "I want to use the media to talk about child rights”. David studies law in Bunia and dreams of working to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. He says he will always work for children.
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