Posted on November 1, 2019
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Washing your hands. A simple, mundane thing. but essential. Following the recent revelation that E.coli is spread not by uncooked meat but by poor bathroom hygiene, sanitation has returned to the forefront of our news.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Health crises have always plagued societies. Nowadays it is no different. From the Black Death to HIV to the modern day superbug, humans across the world have always had to adapt to the ever changing menace from bacteria and viruses. A major tool in this fight is education. Its importance cannot be overstated. How do you fight against an unknown enemy? Answer is: you can’t.
Thus education forms the cornerstone of ACT’s work. If people aren’t aware of the battles they need to fight, then the war can never be won. Education helps alleviate poverty. Education allows us to help people to help themselves. Education is the key to change.
In African societies where many are struggling to make ends meet, widows are often ignored and left marginalised. Coupled with losing your husband, who is likely the bread winner of the family, life can become unbearable and desperate. This degradation is exacerbated by often preventable illnesses which are spread by poor hygiene and the absence of good sanitation. One way to change this is through educating the women.
Last November, Nigeria declared that its sanitation, water supply and hygiene facilities were in crisis. 123 million people, over 60% of the country’s population, do not have access to a decent toilet and 1 in 3 cannot easily access safe water. The statistics are equally alarming in Uganda where 51% lack access to safe water and 33million have no access to improved sanitation. This is terrifying and reinforces the importance of ACT’s work.
Through our Widows Whole Life Skills Training programme in the seven African countries where we operate, we are providing life-skills courses to educate widows, covering topics from business skills, inheritance rights, literacy to hygiene with an emphasis on the physical and mental development of these vulnerable widows.
ACT also recognises the impact of period poverty on education. Unable to afford basic sanitary care, girls are forced to miss school each month just for being a woman. Under our slogan #crampyourstyle, ACT ran a campaign against period poverty where we sought to bring to you the real life stories of helpless women in Africa and the daily gender discrimination they face. As part of our campaign we ran workshops where school girls learnt about menstrual health and the women of the villages (mother groups) made reusable sanitary pads which have now been dispensed to multiple areas through our grassroots organisations where we operate in Africa. Read more about our ULEMU project here.
ACT’s work to educate, empower and enrich is fundamental in the fight for better sanitation, in the battle against preventable diseases and in the mission for the eradication of period poverty. Your support remains indispensable to our work. You can ACT for the people otherwise forgotten.
Donate to our ULEMU project here, an appeal which seeks to educate women about menstrual health.
Thank you for your support!