Issue 8, December 2007
© UNICEF/Kathryn Seymour
People in Patuakhali district use unsafe pond water for washing and cooking.
Changing Her Own Village
properly. “Many people do not understand how pit latrines work. When the toilet is blocked, instead of flushing down the blockage, they break the water seal. I have explained to them how the toilets work and they are learning the proper use and maintenance.” Changing behavior is the key to Dilshad’s new job. She explains that many women throw their household waste into the road or ditch, or leave it to rot around the house. Meeting with women and explaining how flies can land on rubbish and spread disease is slowly convincing them that proper waste disposal is important. During her first six months, Dilshad has met with everyone in her village. “I visit house to house. I also meet with adolescent girls’ groups and speak with teachers about menstrual hygiene.” Dilshad knows first hand that this is one of the biggest problems facing young women. “When I was at school, most of us would miss class for the first two days of our period.” By speaking to teachers about improving access to latrine facilities and explaining to girls the importance of maintaining clean sanitary rags, Dilshad hopes that fewer students will be forced to miss school as she did. She also reminds community members to use soap or ash to wash their hands after using the toilet and before eating. While soap can be expensive, wood ash is a natural cleaning agent that is freely available. She says, “Even though I am young, they listen because I am from the same village and because I teach good things”. “Sometimes it is hard and I feel pressure because people ask me to give them tube wells and latrines when I visit them, but I tell them I can’t.” Although Dilshad is unable to procure funds for water and sanitation infrastructure, she works with villagers to draw maps of the pumps and latrines currently in the village.... [continues]
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