Hadassah the young WASH champion promoting community hygiene in PNG

Hadassah showing a group of children how to construct a tippy tap

“I will do whatever it takes to continue teaching my colleagues on how to build tippy taps and encourage them to wash their hands with water and soap,” said 12-year-old Hadassah, a handwashing hero from Daru, Papua New Guinea. (photos: World Vision Australia)

Twelve-year-old Hadassah wondered why her family were often getting sick.

She lives with her mother and two sisters in the Samari community in a town on the tiny island of Daru, in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. 

The family's simple home and congested suburb have poor water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH). Neither Hadassah's family nor the neighbours had handwashing facilities, so did not wash their hands after using the toilet. Before eating, they washed their hands and utensils in water only.

But the family’s situation changed for the better after World Vision Australia held hygiene awareness sessions in Haddassah's community and school, through the Water for Women WASH Voices for Empowerment (WAVE) project.

The WAVE project is working to improve access to gender and socially inclusive, sustainable WASH in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, targeting support to 40,000 people.

Through the sessions, Hadassah realised her family became sick due to poor water, sanitation and hygiene practices. At Daru Montfort Primary School WASH club, she also learned how to make a tippy tap – a cheap, easily-constructed foot-activated handwashing station – and then built one next to her family’s toilet.

She said: “At first I was worried on how to build a tippy tap. I thought that it was hard. But after I tried, I found it very easy, then I gained courage and built it myself with the resource(s) available.”

Hadassah using a tippy tap she made at homeHadassah has become a WASH champion at home, at school and in her community, teaching others how to make and use a tippy tap and to wash their hands properly with soap and water.

Her efforts are helping those close to her improve their hygiene practices, and stay healthy and safe from illness.

“I will do whatever it takes to continue teaching my colleagues on how to build tippy taps and encourage them to wash their hands with water and soap,” said Hadassah.

Haddasah’s teacher Mr. Stanis said: “Women and girls are change makers, innovators and leaders. Girls like Hadassah are part of important change in a school and the community.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of handwashing in preventing disease outbreaks, reducing the toll of pandemics and promoting good public health and wellbeing.

Through Water for Women, Australia is investing AUD118.9m to deliver 33 WASH projects and research initiatives that aim to support 2.9 million people in 15 countries across South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific. Water for Women is the Australian government's flagship WASH program and is being delivered as part of Australia's aid program over five years, from 2018 to 2022. 


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