**Quick note: Team Sharifa wrote this post a few days ago. All the Fellows are back in Accra and are headed home today!**
Team Sharifa visited Namdu’s school yesterday to educate the children of the village about hygiene practices, waterborne illnesses, and use of the water treatment center. When we arrived, the teachers had already set up desks outside for the about 200 students so that we could present to them all at once. With the help of our translator Sharifa, who is also a school teacher, we explained the differences between dugout water, polytank water, and rainwater. Using a demonstration in which we asked one student to taste test two clear bottles of water, one of which was polytank water and one of which was salt water, we emphasized that ‘clear does not always mean clean.’
Sensing the children were getting a little restless, we decided a more physical activity would be a good idea. We explained the rules of Healthy Habits Tag, assigned the diseases and healthy habits to several of the children, and watched the chaos. The children had been very attentive and engaged when we spoke to them earlier, but it was clear they had built up a lot of energy. After all the children had contracted one of the various waterborne illnesses, we called them back to their seats and talked with them about why getting tagged by one of the illnesses meant you had to go to the hospital. We were thrilled to find out that many of the children had already made the connection between the healthy habits and the waterborne illnesses that the game was meant to demonstrate.
After the rousing game of tag, we introduced the concept of the safe storage containers. Each classroom received one bright blue bucket solely for polytank water. We explained to them the importance of keeping the bucket, their hands, and whatever cups they use, clean. We also demonstrated the use of the tap so that they would not dip their hands into the top as they are accustomed to. Following this quick lesson, the children all asked very good questions, addressing the issue of drinking water when working at the farm and who would be responsible for refilling the safe storage container in the classroom. The older children in particular demonstrated interest in the issue, which was great to see.
All in all, it was a great day for Team Sharifa. We had a blast with the kids and taught them the importance of safe drinking water. Students and teachers alike were extremely grateful for their new safe storage containers, and we look forward to see them enjoying clean water in the future!