In the first three months of the Improving Women’s Health Program, over 22,000 people in the Same District attended educational workshops on how to keep their water clean and safe!
At Empower Tanzania, we are pretty optimistic people, but this statistic blew us out of the water! People are clearly excited to get some good solid information that will help keep their families safe and healthy.
Project Coordinator, Efrancia Nzota reports, “IWHP aims at reaching all the people of the Same District. The main target is women, as we believe that “when you educate women, you educate the society.” Same District, according to the 2012 Tanzania census has a total population of 269,807 people, with 138,292 of them women. With this number of women, a lot can be done. Improving Women’s Health Program basically provides health education; it started with safe and clean water, and is now doing hand washing training. Next will be nutrition, and then others as we develop the curriculum. Each subject is taught for 3 months. Regarding the safe and clean water topic, we were able to meet 22,996 people, with 15,068 of them, or 65%, being women. Within these women we found mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. From an African perspective, women are the key to the households’ activities and from there we can also say they are key to household health.”
She goes on to say, “The Community Health Educators are amazing people to work with! They know the community very well, but the most important thing is they have great influence in the community, and are very convincing. I got a story from one Health Educator who was doing a presentation where an older man was very resistant to change. He asked the question, ‘Madam, I have been here since my childhood and have now grown this old. Why are you telling us to treat our water, while our fathers drank the same water for all these years and lived healthy lives? I have never treated water, and I have lived long as well!”
The Health Educator answered, ‘Father, at that time, very few people lived here, and people really respected the water sources. Nowadays, the population has grown, and people live near the water sources. Agricultural activities are done with use of chemicals, and people direct their run-off water from washing, bathing and everything else they do towards the water source. Some even do laundry in the water source. Tell me if I’m lying!’
The old man answered, ‘You are very right, my child. This new generation is no good. Nowadays people are so different from our age. I was lying to myself all these days, and from now on I will not drink the untreated water. I will ask my wife to give me boiled water. Thank you my child.’
From the visit the Health Educator made, she said everyone in the old man’s family was surprised, for no one had been able to change him before. What is more interesting is that I get this same story from many different Health Educators in many different areas. Safe and clean water have been accepted by people so well, they are also responding well to the hand washing education now, as it is similar to the previous topic.”
Obviously, there is a lot to celebrate in this program! We will continue to add new topics in basic healthy living every three months, with a goal to reach every women in the Same District with our message!