Water Water Everywhere!
The words of the last few weeks are definitely water and sustainability! WASH champion working, World water day, progress with our water harvesting work and lots and lots of rain!
Over the last few weeks Thaba Tseka has certainly had its fair share of water in the form of rain. This has been great for harvesting of water in the newly finished water butts proudly positioned on their new concrete stands at Loti and Thaba Tseka primary schools.
However it has also made us aware of the dangers that severe downpours can have, with rivers that usually trickle peacefully along now becoming roaring torrents. This sadly led to the loss of several lives in Thaba Tseka last week as a taxi bus was swept off a river pass. This event has shaken the community and certainly made us all reflect on the power of nature.
At schools the usual work has continued but with the focus in grade 6 and 7 moving to water sanitation and hygiene, hand washing and the 5 F's. This culminated last Thursday, world water day 2018, (after weeks of planning and preparations in our little team- including trekking across town with bottles of water, collecting up bottles to be used as tippy taps and drawing more pictures of faeces and flies than you'd find on a farmyard!) in an inter school, and international, WASH Olympiad. The WASH champions of our four schools met at the education office in the middle of Thaba Tseka, while at the same time, Welsh WASH champions from three local schools met at Ninian Park Primary school in Cardiff. The aim this international learning challenge was to raise awareness of issues related to water, sanitation and hygiene education on a global platform between 2 countries.
Sadly due to heavy rain, the rest of the pupils from grades 6 and 7 were not able to attend to support and learn from their champions. It also meant that the outdoor elements of the day (relay racing and water transportation problem solving) could not take place. Nevertheless, the WASH champion’s faces lit up when they entered the room to find team tables complete with individual t-shirts, their very own bottles of water and biscuits.
Each team worked co-operatively and did their schools proud with their level of knowledge. The scores were neck and neck coming out of both the quiz and the memory rounds and the deciding round was hand washing; hearing choruses of 'Happy Birthday' (or in Loti Primary's case 'Happy Birthday ntate Sion') and seeing the team members offering advice on technique or strategies for the tippy tap was a lovely moment. The victors in the end were Thaba Tseka's WASH champions (and this year’s digital leaders).
By all accounts the Welsh event, (including Herbert Thompson Primary school, St Cuthberts Primary and my own Ninian Park Primary school) went just as successfully. As well as improving their understanding of hand washing and hygiene, the children learnt about life in Lesotho, how precious water is and the importance of having access to it. Fortunately they were luckier than us with the weather and had great fun participating and working together to complete each event. The victors at the end of the day in another very close event were St Cuthberts Primary school. A huge thank you to all those who made the Wales event possible and fingers crossed that this event can become an annual event!
Reflecting on my time here so far I am awed by the willingness of the teachers and children that we work with to go with us and try new things. This has again been shown in comments from WASH teachers from my school asking whether they could repeat the events from World Water Day at a school level so all the children could join in the fun.
As we reach the Easter break, I am definitely ready for a rest and to meet up with family for a while in Durban, but I am also hopeful that the work we are doing here will be sustainable and perhaps enrich the learning experiences of pupils in the schools through the teaching strategies we are using in the years to come.