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Rwanda, 16 September 2016: In Rwamagana, children are agents of change for hygiene promotion

By Jung Yuen Park

© UNICEF Rwanda/2016/Park
Emmelyne washes her hands with soap after using the toilet

RWAMAGANA District, Rwanda, 16 September 2016 – Emmelyne is four years old and attends the Early Childhood Development and Family (ECD&F) centre in Ntunga Village in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province.

During class, Emmelyne learned that she must wash her hands with soap after using the toilet and before eating porridge. “Look how I wash my hands. Now I know it well. My mom also tells me to wash my hands after going back home,” says Emmelyne.

When Emmelyne comes home, her mother Angelique welcomes her and helps her wash her hands. Sometimes Emmelyne sings a song she learned at the centre. “I am happy to see her actively playing and enjoying her learning. She used to be a very shy little girl but not any longer. She has grown a lot,” says Angelique.

Emmelyne has two siblings and they all join her in washing their hands with soap at home.

“Emmelyne comes home and shares what she learned in class. She has learned about the importance of hygiene, especially handwashing with soap, and now she teaches her little sister how to wash her hands. In our village, we only had one water point to share with nearby villages. I had to walk more than one hour to fetch water and still the quantity was not enough. Now that UNICEF has built a new water point in my own village, I only need to walk five minutes. I can bring enough water for everything: cooking, drinking, washing, and cleaning. I am happy that we have enough water to provide my children good hygiene at home,” says Angelique, posing in front of her latrine and handwashing facility together with Emmelyne.

© UNICEF Rwanda/2016/Park
Emmelyne and her mother, Angelique together with her siblings pose in their yard which has a toilet and handwashing

Angelique is a member of the Community Hygiene Club (CHC) in her village and she participates eagerly in almost every session. “We learn a lot about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of handwashing with soap to prevent water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, the importance of food safety by storing in a cool place, and the importance of handling water safely. Now that I have enough water, I can wash my children’s clothes often and our hygiene is a lot better,” says Angelique.

UNICEF, part of the One UN in Rwanda, supports the Government of Rwanda to increase access to clean water and sanitation facilities in rural communities. UNICEF provided water points inside the Rwamagana ECD&F centre and in four villages surrounding the centre, and water supply by connecting pipes to the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) lines, the main safe water supply system of Rwanda.

Jean Marie Rutaganda, WASH Specialist from UNICEF Rwanda, says “our support is not limited to hardware. We also support hygiene and sanitation promotion activities at the ECD&F centre with children as well as with the community. We helped establish Community Hygiene Clubs in all seven villages in the area. We believe that children are agents of change. They learn and share with their families what they are taught. We are happy to see improvements in the centre and in the surrounding villages, and we are proud of Emmelyne and other children.”



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