Children receive lifesaving lessons in Darfur

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Thousands of children in West Darfur are receiving lifesaving lessons in hygiene from Tearfund to help stop the spread of disease.

Simple, yet vital, health messages are being given to youngsters via stories, song and drama.

Eleven-year-old Hazirah is among 1,000 pupils at Garsila Town Basic School for Girls in the Wadi Salih locality, who has benefited.

Every week she attends a health club Tearfund has set up in her school, where she learns hygiene and health messages through interactive activities.

Clean and safe

'I now always wash my hands after using the latrine and before eating,' says Hazirah, who is also one of the members of the school's health committee which the children and teachers formed to implement the lessons they are learning.

In addition to the awareness raising work, Tearfund has built ventilated, improved pit latrines at the school to ensure the children have access to safe and clean sanitation facilities.

The importance of projects like this is underlined by the fact that globally at least three children under the age of five die every minute because of a lack of sanitation or poor quality water.

Overall Tearfund has provided more than 5,000 latrines in the Wadi Salih locality, including the new settlement of Amar Jedid. Here Amra Ismail is among those to benefit.

Risk at night

Before Tearfund's work, there were no latrines and the widow was forced to defecate in the open countryside, a practice that was not only unhygienic but unsafe as she was at risk of attack, particularly at night.

That changed when Tearfund built a latrine for Amra, her sister and their seven children: 'Now we have the latrine we are clean and safe,' says Amra appreciatively.

Women like Amra are also receiving hygiene education at a Tearfund health club, where the importance of washing hands is underlined by the free supply of soap for households.

Members of the club are supported by other women who have been trained by Tearfund about hygiene and sanitation.

Out of order

Tearfund's work is fuelled by the belief that it is out of order for 2.5 billion people worldwide to be denied access to decent sanitation and 900 million to be without clean drinking water.

As well as our practical work, we've been mobilising supporters to lobby world leaders to do more about improving water and sanitation standards.

Your voice is being heard. Some 20,000 of you sent our postcards to 10 Downing Street urging action and later Gordon Brown said it was right for water and sanitation to be made a priority.

* Names have been changed to protect identities.