Belinda is a survivor, a toilet-maker and a changemaker!

A Papua New Guinean women smiles at the camera from her home in Daru

Belinda is a survivor, a toilet-maker and a changemaker! (World Vision Papua New Guinea)


Belinda is one of the lucky ones. When cholera swept through her home town of Daru, the capital of Papua New Guinea's Western Province in 2010, all of the people who were in her ward at Daru General Hospital died, "I was the only one who made it out alive”, she recalls.


Belinda lives in Tureture community, a remote a suburb of Daru town where there has always been very poor sanitation and hygiene amenities. As a 54 year old widow of 15 years, with 4 daughters and 10 grandchildren, she has always been a strong Meri, taking care of her large family. But for all these years, she had never heard about the importance of safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).


Her family did not have a toilet, or even handwashing facilities at home. Within her neighbourhood, one dilapidated toilet was shared by seven other households, so most of them still practiced open defecation.


All of this started to change though, when World Vision visited the community as part of their Water for Women project - WASH Voices for Empowerment (WAVE), supported by the Australian Government. World Vision began awareness sessions with community members and through these session, Belinda learned that the reason she and her family were always getting sick was because of their water, sanitation and hygiene practices.


Belinda's understanding of hygiene was around washing your body, washing of clothes, cleaning of the house and washing of utensils - no matter what kind water was used. However, after several sessions with World Vision, she now had a better understanding of what safe water and proper sanitation and hygiene practices meant, and took matters into her own hands.


Armed with this new knowledge, she decided to build her family their own toilet and handwashing facility next to their home, so that her family could always have access to them.


“At first I was worried about who would construct the toilet for me... but I gained courage and I did it myself with the resources available,” she stated proudly.


And she has not stopped there. Belinda is now a member of the WASH Committee in Tureture, leading the charge in transforming her community through WASH. She uses her experience and her powerful story of survival to encourage other community members to build toilets for their home, use safe water and practice proper hygiene - to stay healthy and stay safe from waterborne diseases like cholera.


“If we knew all these things earlier, we wouldn’t have lost our people to cholera," she reflects. "I will do whatever it takes to make sure our residents are doing what it takes to practice these things that you have taught us."


A woman is standing proudly outside the toilet she built herself

Belinda shows off the toilet she built herself! (World Vision Papua New Guinea)


It is now over a year since Belinda built her toilet and a hand washing facility at her home and her community is also changing for the better, despite the challenges of a global pandemic at their door.  Women and girls are changemakers, innovators and leaders - women like Belinda are part of important change at a community, local and national level, which is why gender and social inclusion is embedded across all Water for Women projects. great things happen when women lead!


Belinda is grateful to the World Vision team for coming and helping her and her community improve their WASH practices and we are grateful that Belinda will continue to be part of important change in Tureture now and for a resilient future.


The value of women is infinite – women bear the brunt of problems, ranging from poverty to health, to climate change, but they also possess the capabilities, knowledge and talents to solve these problems. That is why gender and social inclusion is embedded across Australia’s development programs.


For International Women's Day and World Water Day, we are celebrating the value of women and the value of water. Both are critical to building healthy and climate-resilient communities. 


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