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WASH in schools – a step towards recovery with healthy classrooms and happy children

by Sandar Linn

©UNICEF Philippines/2014/Joey Reyna
Chrisly, 13, at Pagnamitan Elementary School in Guiuan

As he puts his toothbrush down, Chrisly Angeles explains, "I've just finished brushing my teeth and washing my hands as part of my daily school routine." With a big smile he adds, "now my hands are clean, and my breath smells fresh."

Chrisly, 13, is a sixth grader in Pagnamitan Elementary School, one of many schools in Guiuan that were devastated by super typhoon Yolanda last November. Still four months later, the shattered wreckage and fallen trees litter the streets of the village and the nearby shore.

Despite the damage, the school in the remote village resumed classes, and UNICEF supported students with hygiene kits so everyone in school could learn good hygiene principles – and put them to practice. Overall, 12,000 children from public schools in Guiuan received hygiene kits. The basic supplies they contain – soap, toothbrushes and others – are not only important in protecting children from diseases, they also help them learn and enjoy good hygiene practices together, explains Cromwell Bacareza, UNICEF Philippines WASH Officer.

©UNICEF Philippines/2014/Joey Reyna
Chrisly and his classmates brush their teeth after lunch

Back at the school in Guiuan, Chrisly says the contents of the kit were one of the first items he received after losing nearly everything in the storm. "After the typhoon I was left with three shirts, two shorts and nothing else," he explains.

While the shock and pain from experiencing the disaster lingers on, Chrisly is moving on to articulate his new dream, "I want to be an architect when I grow up. I want to design my dream home, a home that is safe and happy."

 

 
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