Nankwesi Grace, Teacher, Uganda
"The games were so interesting that we had to change our schedule to meet the demand of the students.“
Ahead, makeshift homes stretch for miles on dusty terrain while laughing children run past our knees kicking up dirt. In a store to the left, a butcher slices large cuts of meat to display. On our right, two women hoisting large canteens upon their heads pass us on one of their many daily walks to get water for their families. We arrive at a large open football field in front of a school to see a WASH in Schools (WinS) training in action. The two goalposts on either side of the field are being secured with a large canvas poster that reads “World Toilet Cup”. On the poster are two toilets, each with a hole cut out where the bowl is. Finally, two brown ‘poo’ balls are brought onto the field. A signature WASH United game, “World Toilet Cup” gives children the opportunity to play their favourite sport – football – while at the same time learning the basic message of good sanitation: that poo belongs in the loo.
Children begin pouring into the stadium from the east entrance. Upon arrival, they’ve just had a lively discussion in their classroom about the story of germs, poo, flies and why washing hands after using the loo is so important.
As the game comes to an end, we hear children chanting “kick the poo in the loo!” The final student stands before the brown ‘poo’ ball, taking aim towards the toilet-shaped goal. With a swift kick of his foot, the poo ball goes flying, up, up, and YES! Into the toilet! Children’s cheers deafen our ears as the teacher gathers them together as a signal that their time playing the World Toilet Cup is over for today. Banding together, the children insist that they play longer. The teacher agrees. Afterwards, she tells us that WASH United’s WASH in Schools (WinS) program is causing huge changes not only in the children themselves, but also in the school’s programming and the community at large.
“In the way that program happened today, I am quite sure that the kids internalized the message. In the beginning, we were just teaching “hygiene, hygiene, hygiene”, but we weren’t going deeper. Because the trainings are so interactive, now we’re actually getting the answers from the kids. They’re giving answers how to change their own behaviors! And they’re not just saying it, they’re playing it!”