Clean Hands, Happy Hearts
“A toilet is not just a toilet. It is a lifesaver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker. Whoever you are, wherever you are, sanitation is your human right”
– UN Water –
Loreto Vietnam understands the importance of clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene for the survival and development of every human being, especially children. However, many children in remote areas of Vietnam often have very limited access to safe water and sanitation facilities, making them vulnerable to life threatening diseases.
Loreto Vietnam supports school sanitation and health education programs as part of our commitment to providing access to education for children living in poverty. The building of new toilet blocks offers students and teachers safe and hygienic facilities, including separate sections for girls and boys, new wash basins, water storage tanks and sanitized tile areas for easy cleaning. Health posters and paintings are displayed to enhance the awareness of health, hygiene and appropriate toileting practices. Teachers and students also join class talks and discussions on how to keep the school including the new toilet areas safe, clean and green.
Since 1997, our School Sanitation program has rebuilt and renovated toilet facilities for 20 rural and remote schools. We have also helped train over 16,000 students in knowledge and skills to develop their understanding of effective hand washing habits, hygiene awareness and good toilet practice.
Image top left: The toilets before renovations
All other images: Loreto Vietnam Students celebrating the opening of the newly built girls and renovated boys toilet blocks.
Most recently, Loreto Vietnam together with the support of Loreto Ministries, Mary Ward International Australia and Loreto College Ballarat, introduced a new “friend” to children in the B An Phu primary school, in An Giang province.
For the last five years at this school, the students and teachers had to share one toilet block with no formal separation for boys and girls. The lack of doors and ventilation meant there was no privacy or comfort. Due to the lack of running water on site, the school had to collect unclean water from nearby ponds. As a result, school absences increased due to diarrhoea and poor hygiene-related illnesses amongst the students. Loreto Vietnam worked closely with the local authority and school staff on a needs assessment and situation analysis; we then came to the decision to build a new and separate toilet block exclusively for girls and renovate the existing block for boys. Safe and clean water systems were installed. Finally, health promotion and education modules were delivered to the teachers and students to help them learn how to better look after their health and hygiene at school, with particular attention to protection from COVID 19.
“A clean hand is a happy hand!” This is the simple message of Loreto Vietnam to all students in disadvantaged and remote communities who are suffering from inadequate sanitation facilities. Our ongoing passion and commitment is to join with local partners and schools to provide a healthier learning environment and enable better access to quality education for the children of Vietnam.
Author: Dung Nguyen, Executive Director Loreto Vietnam
Feature Image: Girls happy to have privacy and hygiene thanks to their new toilet block