"What I was doing before was soulless, I didn't give anything back to society. I decided I wanted to do something which makes me smile.“
As we walk through the blazing heat of Wardha, Madhya Pradesh, a rural area of central-Northern India, we pass sacred cows knee-deep in garbage. We’re trying to reach the next school in time where Trevor will teach children to dance. The children Trevor will meet are not supposed to dance – they are workers who tend to the fields with their families, and struggle through their lives just like their parents did. As Trevor lines up his students in the dusty classroom, people curiously peer through the windows. Speaking only a few words of Hindi, Trevor begins his lesson – instructing the children on how to move their arms, stomp their feet and jerk their shoulders for a hip-hop routine. He jokes and laughs with the kids, encouraging them to feel the music and move their little limbs. Somehow, Trevor communicates perfectly despite the barrier of language.
Trevor was invited to travel 2,000 km through rural India as a volunteer on the Nirmal Bharat Yatra, or the Great WASH Yatra. The first of its kind, this traveling carnival incorporating hygiene-based messaging through fun and games was initiated by WASH United and local partners to generate awareness about the importance of good hygiene and sanitation. A unique platform for spreading WASH messages, the Yatra stands as a benchmark for innovation and effectiveness in sanitation and hygiene campaigning, awareness raising and behavior change.
True to the spirit of WASH United, the Yatra exudes an unmistakable air of fun, joy and celebration: brightly-coloured tents resounding with laughter and music are occupied with students voraciously competing to win a dance contest. A few metres away, kids can be seen participating in a variety of interactive learning games. One such game, “Poo Minefield”, educates children about the dangers of open defecation: A blindfolded player must avoid oversized ‘poo piles’ and search for soap bars to win.
“We’re trying to deliver a program around sanitation, health and cleanliness. The young people we’re talking to may have learned behaviour in terms of going to the toilet, but not necessarily washing their hands.”