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A hopeful future for children in Amanful

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Going for Community led total sanitation field visits are a big plus for me. The exposure to different communities cultural ways, sanitation practices, culinary methods as you smell their delicacies on the verandah’s while passing their mobile kitchens, and the unmistakable smile of a child, leaves one with sights and sounds engraved in the heart for a long time.

After driving for 2 hours to rural Ghana, Amanful village, home to 1225 people, in Central Region, the tong sound of the village ‘gongo beater’ welcomes us as we set foot into a gathering. The sound beckons the community that visitors have come and they stream in- men, women, boys, girls and the elderly- for this gathering.

Over the past months, Plan Ghana in partnership with TREND Ghana (Training Research & Networking for Development) triggered a community and implemented CLTS that the village turned around from openly defecating to open defecation free village. The partnership has yielded greatly to diarrhoeal incidences reducing and reports from the Chief’s clinic confirming the same. “We cleaned our bushes and stopped shitting in the open, we even use soap to clean our hands and have since a reduced number in fever diseases, says Justic Tondah, Village Opinion leader, “We have acquired knowledge and are building household latrines, we are now looking after ourselves, just like the people in Accra town do,” says Justic.

As the community meeting takes place and the crowd is addressed, my eyes lock with that of a young girl dressed in an orange shirt and brown dress. Her piercing eyes remind me of my own daughter back in Kenya.

It’s apparent that school children have been invited to this meeting to discuss a village declaring that their Open defecation free status in which children have a stake. Joyce doesn’t look frail at all, seems to me that she and other children from Amanful no.2 primary school were called during their break-time recess to attend the gathering of Chief Nana Otu Acheampong. The innocence in her eyes and her smile pierces my heart that children lives have been saved as a result of the behaviour change taking place in sanitation practices. One can only hope that this change of taking charge of their destinies by practicing safe sanitation practices will be sustainable and that Joyce’s unmistakable smile can last.

Joyce, 8-years, is in grade 2 and she comes from the Amanful community that is implementing construction of communal toilets where they share 8 latrines using the communal latrines technology of one superstructure that offers little privacy to the villagers since sharing is a cultural practice. I hope that Joyce will grow up into a society that respects her rights to health, participation, education and much more. The envisioned future is that she will grow in a community that will practice safe waste disposal and hygiene practices to reduce direct exposure to faeces and she will be protected as a girl-child, enlightened and contributing to village meetings such as this.

Joyce has a dream, that one day she will grow up and become a teacher, sharing knowledge and changing lives of little children, just like hers. We all have a part to play to turn dreams of the children in Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia turns into reality as the Pan African Community Led Total Sanitation programme continues to be implemented for the next 3 years.

Elizabeth Muiruri, Regional Internal Communications Specialist, Plan RESA

Date: 1 March 2012