Children take a lead in the nationwide sanitation campaign
By Fakhrinisso Kurbonshoeva
GEOKDERE, Turkmenistan, 8 July 2008 - Nazar Orazov, 13, is one of the 26 children participating in a hygiene and sanitation camp held in Geokdere, Turkmenistan. As part of the newly launched campaign to support the International Year of Sanitation 2008, thousands of Turkmen children like Nazar and their families are learning about the importance of good hygiene practices, some as simple as washing hands.
“From very early, my mother set a family rule that without hand washing we were not allowed to sit over the table,” said Nazar. “As a tradition, my brother, sister and I wash our hands every time before eating and after using the toilet. After taking sanitation and hygiene lessons we had in the camp, I now understand why my mother had set that rule.
“I also understand the connection between sanitation, helminth and nutrition,” he added.
The summer-long campaign activities have been rolled out in six children’s health centres in Geokdere resort area and among school summer camps in the country. UNICEF, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and partners of the health industry launched the campaign jointly, and have developed interactive tools such as TV spots, posters and flash cards to spread the messages on clean water, sanitation and good hygiene habits.
It is expected that in Geokdere camps alone, about 7,400 children aged 8 to13 will be reached by the campaign. After the trainings children are provided with paper and crayons to take part in an essay and drawing contest on sanitation and hygiene. The best essays and pictures will be compiled into a booklet. The children are also encouraged to become peer educators and help spread the messages in their schools and kindergartens.
“Dissemination of knowledge by using peer to peer approaches will also provides children with leadership skills and responsibility,” commented Maral Allakurbanova, campaign focal point in Nazar’s camp. “It will motivate the children, gives them a sense of accomplishment and teaches them to be responsible.”
Through partnerships with private sector in Turkmenistan and two Turkish private companies “Cotam Enterprises” and “Ziya”, T-shirt and towels worth of $3,000 USD are donated to be given out as prizes to the children who will win the essay and drawing contest.
“With the materials I received during the training, I will prepare a wall newspaper and post it in my school, so every boy and girl can learn from it,” declared Nazar, while going through his educational materials given by UNICEF.