One of the first weeks in Harike, Jessica and I went to a school to meet the principal and get some information about the students. We went there as part of our community engagement because we were a new centre and we wanted them to know us and about our work organisation. What we were not expecting from that first contact was to have a formal meeting that set up the workshops in which all the interns and two schools are currently involved.
Two weeks later Jessica and I came back and we were asked to deliver a workshop on SWASH. All we knew was that the students were 16 years old and don’t speak a lot of English. That could only make me more and more nervous, but who wouldn’t be scared of a bunch of teenagers that don’t understand-not your mother tongue- but your second language? Nevertheless, I prepared it.
The good thing is that right before getting into the school, a pigeon dropped one on my jumper and that could only mean good luck. The workshop went great, the students, principal and staff were satisfied and encouraged us to extend the program to more schools.
SWASH: María explaining a practical activity about recycling
SWASH workshop about water pollution, sanitation and solid waste management
For the next session, we had another challenge ahead; Jessica wanted to speak only to the girls about sanitation, personal hygiene, puberty and menstruation. As all of us know, that’s a controversial topic! However, the school was very open about it and accepted the proposal. We were surprised when some of the girls asked intimate questions that they may not dare to ask their families or teachers.
Seeing how good the workshops were working, we felt comfortable enough to extend the agenda to a government school. When we showed up there they said they were aware of our work and they were expecting us! After a few chais and somosas (tea and snacks) – which are always welcomed – we started a new successful round of workshops and we have established a close relationship with the principal.
Jessica during a group activity about menstruation
So far, we have done seven sessions. Every week we keep improving with the experience and recommendations from each new lesson and we feel the students are getting as involved as we are. All of us enjoy with the activity and it’s definitely a good way for the community to get to know us.
Both schools have a post-exam break in March, but we’ll be back in April with new and fresh topics and interns!
Part of the team with the principal and staff of the public school
María Reyes – Spain
Project Manager (Intern)
SWASH Village, Harike
and, Coord – Ecobuilding
15 Feb 2016