Thula students promote environmental awareness [Archives:2005/875/Reportage]

September 8 2005
A one day cleaning campaign was part of the Thula Summer School
A one day cleaning campaign was part of the Thula Summer School
A young child dies in the arms of his mother after a terrible bout with diarrhea. The cause: parasites contracted from swimming in an unclean cistern and not washing his hands with soap. Another child dies from a fall due to garbage thrown in the street. These were scenes from the performance given by the girls from the Arwa School at the end of their environmental health summer camp in the town of Thula.

Local teachers were given a mini course in hygiene prior to the summer school in which 54 girls participated. The program, funded by USAID/Yemen, was designed to create hygiene awareness through a creative program which included classes on storytelling through comics, theater, song and art/drawing. The students chose the class that best suited their talents. The girls developed their own environmental health messages and related them to their daily lives and their community.

The August 31st finale brought parents, community members, local council, governorate and district health officials together for a display of the girls' achievements in using various media to convey messages about environmental issues and how their families and communities should approach solutions to these problems. The audience was amazed by the performances and touched by the clear messages that were aimed at the adults – keep the community clean; wash hands with soap and water; don't swim in dirty water; don't use cistern water for drinking; take responsibility for the environment and for teaching children the importance of hygiene and sanitation. Smiles and clapping emerged when parents saw their girls wearing mustaches, playing fathers and judges. Parents and the community were held responsible for their children's environment~al health related illnesses and accidents.

The boys school, Shahid AlThelaya participated in the closing events by performing a song to welcome the guests and a play depicting the hazard of revenge in traditional Yemen.

The closing events were attended by Ali Hizam, Deputy Governor; Ali Baker, Deputy Governor of the Environmental Health Office; Ahmed AlSadiq, Local Councilor at the Amran Governorate Council; Mohammed Fatime, Thula District Director; Mohammed Qais, Thula General Secretary; General Directors of Thula Governmental Offices; Iman Awad, USAID Health and Population Specialist; Cheri Rassas, Chief of Party of PHRplus; Emtinan Al-Medhwahi, PHRplus Technical Specialist for Environmental Health; Husien Bahroun, Health Educational Advisor; and Dalia Al Eryani, PHRplus Project Officer.

The Summer School activity is part of the Environmental Health Pilot Project funded by USAID and implemented by the PHRplus project in Thula district. The purpose of the Pilot is to identify major environmental health problems in the district and implement community-based solutions to these problems.