Children create change in their communities, thanks to Bernadette Kafari their supportive teacher
UNICEF details the picture of men and women in Ghana who work for children’s survival. Here, school health club co-ordinator Bernadette Kafari tells her story.
By Madeleine Logan
Zubzugu and Kpandai,Northern GHANA, 02 May 2013 - Bernadette Kafari believes in children’s ability to make a difference in their own lives. When UNICEF asked her to set up school health clubs to teach about the importance of clean water, toilets and handwashing, she stepped up to the challenge. There are now 30 vibrant new clubs in Zubzugu and Kpandai in the Northern Region of Ghana. This is Bernadette’s story.
“You shouldn’t underestimate children. If you give them respect, they will come up marvellously. We teach the School Health Club members about hygiene, cleanliness, the importance of toilets, menstrual hygiene, handwashing, as well as leadership and teamwork. I tell the School Health Club teachers that they shouldn’t impose anything on the children. They should listen to them and support them. The students have really taken up the mantle.
“The children in the Takanado Primary School Health Club now go out after school has closed for the day and work harvesting and weeding. Any money they get they use to buy detergents to clean their school toilet and soap for handwashing. Recently, they cleaned up the chief’s palace and he gave them five cedis. They used that to buy toilet rolls.
“Another School Health Club became fed up that the community was defecating in their schoolyard. The decided it had to stop. So they got together a group to go to the schoolyard in the early morning and evening. If they found anybody defecating, they threw stones at them and ran away. Within a short time, the community stopped defecating there!
“We taught the School Health Club members how to build tippy taps – handwashing stations that can be made out of sticks, string and other locally available materials that people throw away. The children have now been building their own tippy taps for each classroom in their school.
“Before the health clubs were started up, the students didn’t understand why they should clean their own toilets. The toilets were very dirty and the students preferred to defecate outside. Now the members come to school early and volunteer to clean.
“When I am able to put life in a child, and give them better understanding and knowledge – that gives me joy".