Whenever we do a clean water project, sanitation and hygiene training always follows. Now that there is safe water for their village, they now need to know the other side of cleanliness, which is found in good hygiene. Everything from knowing how to wash your hands (yes there is a right and wrong way) to knowing how to handle your child’s waste (no diapers here), to brushing your teeth with clean water and protecting your feet from cuts were worms can enter the body.
Today we went back to the village where a new Water Pump had been installed a few days earlier to do the hygiene training with our partner, Living Water International. We were picked up by Philip a Rwandan who does all the sanitation and hygiene training for LWI. We drove on a nice paved road (roads were not like this 6 years ago when I first started coming to Rwanda) for about 20 minutes heading out of Kilgali. We then turned off the paved road and headed 7 miles up this very rutted red soil road that was shared by cows. Like most times when you are trying to find your destination in the villages you always have to stop multiple times to ask for directions. It seems like there are roads and paths that go every which way – this trip was no exception.
We got to our location for our training – it was stunning. Here on the side of a hill overlooking a valley and under a small grove of trees were 4 chairs and a table with no buildings in sight. Under the trees were women children and a few men who had seemed to be waiting quite some time for us to arrive. In Rwanda there is no such thing as arriving on time. We always joke to clarify – are we speaking African time or American time. Africans typically will arrive anywhere between 1 to 2 hours later than the agreed upon time. I’ve found not to fight it but just roll with it.
There is a custom in the Rwanda where the women tend to sit together and men will sit separately. Today was no exception, except I broke that custom and sat with the women, I wanted to hold their babies. It wasn’t until I got up to speak that I realized the separation, and I then remembered this custom, it was too late and I was the odd man out. Oh well, the people probably just laughed at the ignorant “Mazungu” (this is what they call white people).
It was interesting to see the reaction to hygiene training. Philip was teaching with a three ring binder that contained hand drawn pictures, they were glue to the pictures like we might be glued to the latest 3D film. They were very attentive to the training and even asked great questions. Well, they seemed great…I didn’t really know what they were asking, but it looked like they were engaged and were wanting more information.
At the end of the training I was asked to address the gathering of people to share with them where I came from, talk about my family (they love to hear about your family) and about what motivates me to do what I do as it pertains to Global Benefit. They were amazed that a white man would come all the way from the USA to be with then and they could not believe a white man would care enough for them to help their village get clean water. Yes, it makes you feel good, but I could not take the credit for it. It has been the work of many to raise funds that allow us to do what we do at Global Benefit. We are just the catalyst to make this happen.
When we left the training, we stopped back at the new well site to see the activity. It was about 5:30 pm and we saw that children were coming from all directions and distances with the yellow jugs to get their water. It looks like this is the nightly routine for these children. The women will get the water in the morning for their family and for their daily chores, but at night the children after they come home from school, head to the water well to fetch their evening supply of water. It is so rewarding to see the impact that is being made. Just days before the community was getting their water from a stream that was dirty and filled with parasites. Now , they are pumping cold, clean water from the ground.
I want to say thank you to all of you who have followed this blog. Not everyone is aware of what Global Benefit does or not everyone will be able to experience Rwanda. My goal was to allow you to experience a bit of what I have experience over the last 13 days.
One group that has been following this blog are some teachers from my children’s school, Gilmanton Elementary. I wanted to send them a personal thank you, so below is just that.
I mention the coffee fundraiser in the video above and I want to explain this just in case you are wondering what it is all about. Global Benefit has a fundraising arm for groups and schools. We use this program not only to help raise funds for clubs and their programs, but we use it to: create fair trade markets, raise awareness to the Global Clean Water Crisis, and to help raise funds to bring more clean water to Africa. If you are interested in a fundraiser for your school or group you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We (the team and I ) will be leaving tomorrow to head back home. I will heading back to snowy NH, Brett will be going back to Colorado (you can check out Brett’s blog from this trip) and Andre will be heading back to LA. I want to thank Brett and Andre for doing an amazing job capturing these stories that will be used to educate and engage people in a way that will lead people to action. At Global Benefit we say YOU+ACTION=CHANGE. Change does not take place on its own, it is everyone doing a little bit, and collectively we can make this world a little bit better.