Posts Tagged ‘BAD2010

15
Oct
10

WASH: keeping girls in the classroom

I was asked by the Ryan’s Well Foundation to contribute a blog post in honour of Blog Action Day. With this year’s theme being WATER, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about the experiences I had while photographing their water projects in Uganda. The following is what I contributed to the Ryan’s Well Foundation Blog – mine is one of many they will be posting throughout the day. Please check them out!

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I loved school when I was a kid. I had wonderful, inspiring teachers, I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, and most of all…I loved learning.

When I travelled to Uganda with the Ryan’s Well Foundation this past February, we visited a number of schools where water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH) programs had been recently implemented. I could clearly see the impact these programs have on the children in these schools. Their smiling, eager faces told me they too were happy to be in school and enjoyed learning. I was also happy to see so many girls in the classroom.

Traditionally, it is often the responsibility of girls to collect water. This time-intensive task often takes them out of the classroom for up to several hours to reach far-away water sources. By providing schools with clean water sources, less time is spent collecting water and more time is spent in the classroom.

It isn’t only about access to clean water, though; providing latrines and handwashing stations and promoting hygiene education in the classroom are also important aspects of keeping girls in schools. Access to these kinds of resources increases their safety, provides dignity and helps prevent disease; participating on school water committees empowers girls towards positive change.

I never had to think about water and sanitation issues when I went to school; I was able to have fun and focus on learning. With continued school-based WASH projects supported by the Ryan’s Well Foundation, more and more girls will spend fewer valuable classroom hours collecting water and won’t be anxious or embarrassed about hygiene issues. They too can love attending school and eagerly focus on learning, just like I did.

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