Photo Credit :HEEALS
Unlike any “regular” job, volunteering is generally a form of offering one’s skills, knowledge and time FOR FREE. Add to that the expenses typically involved in volunteering abroad (flights, insurance etc.) and you may be left wondering why many of the organizations listed on our platform are actually asking for fees from their prospective volunteers. Don’t get me wrong – I totally get you. The thought of flying across the world to volunteer your time and skills does not instinctively go down with also having to pay the organization you’ll soon be helping. To set matters straight, here are a few quick points that may help you better understand .
Your stay at the organization uses up resources.
Your money can help advance ongoing activities and projects after you leave.
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In August 2013, HEEALS carried out a monitoring and evaluation exercise on its Water Sanitation and Girl Education projects in three schools following the delivery of previous awareness training. Results of the monitoring and evaluation are now available to view in our HEEALS report.
One issue to consider is that despite many girls having a good awareness and knowledge of Menstrual Hygiene, they are unable to practice what they know due to lack of facilities available in school. The bad conditions of toilet facilities were reported by most participants, who stated that there was nowhere to place sanitary pads and no soap or water for hand washing. Similarly, many girls displayed an awareness of the importance of hand washing, yet were unable to put this into practice at school.
Schools greatly influence the behavior and mentality of children – they look to school as a source of knowledge. Yet through lack of sanitation facilities, schools are contributing to creating the mentality that hand washing and hygiene practices are not necessary. Lack of Menstrual Hygiene facilities lead to menstrual hygiene becoming an invisible issue which is not addressed, increasing the embarrassment of young girls to discuss Menstrual Hygiene.
Another key point to consider is that most girls reported being treated differently by their family during menstruation, and cited parental choice as the main factor in the girl’s education. Parents need to be included in Menstrual Hygiene and Water Sanitation awareness projects as well as teachers and male students, to develop understanding surrounding these issues and to support girls in obtaining a good education.
Read the full report here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3-sg3TTDoppRlFxRW8yeDJSWkU/edit?usp=sharing
Sanitation and hygiene issues in schools remain high on the development agenda in India, more than a decade after the start of the Total Sanitation Campaign, evidenced by the holding of the first WASH in Schools Leadership Course held in Delhi from 6-9 August. The course was organised by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), the Administrative Staff College of India and UNICEF. More than 130 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Educational professionals from 25 states are reported to have participated. The course aims to increase the capacity of local and national actors working in WASH in schools (WinS) interventions under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (Total Sanitation Campaign).
Although a lot of progress has been made under the TSC, there is still a lot of work to be done. As the Secretary of the MDWS, Mr. Pankaj Jain, stated, “WASH in Schools should be a National Mission”. At the moment, it is far beyond achieving success at a national level. Mr Louis George’s Arsenault, Representative, UNICEF, acknowledged WASH in Schools as a critical component of child-friendly education, contributing to a healthy and conducive learning environment and a significant reduction in absenteeism and dropout rates, especially among girls. “It also has an impact on enhanced primary school attendance, improved health and cognitive development, increasing girls’ participation in school,” he said.
With WASH programmes still lacking in schools across India, HEEALS (Health Education Environment And Livelihood Society), based in Gurgaon, is trying to contribute towards a national mission by conducting WASH awareness in schools in slum areas and unauthorized zones where no other WASH agents are operating. HEEALS plans to carry out a Water Sanitation Menstrual Hygiene & Girl Education Awareness project across five different states of India including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, New Delhi NCR Region and, Leh and Ladakh. The project aims to go into the interior parts of these states where water, sanitation and menstrual hygiene practice are far beyond the reach of most people. “The awareness project will be carried out in places where the dropout rate among girls in schools is high due to the non-availability of separate toilets and lack of awareness about sanitation and menstrual hygiene”, says HEEALS’ Managing Director, Gaurav Kashyap.
Without the work of civil society organisations such as HEEALS and support for their work, the realisation of WASH at a national level can only be aspirational. Find out more about the work of HEEALS and offer your support at: www.heealsorg. Read the full UNICEF article at: http://www.unicef.org/india/reallives_8335.htm
UNICEF reports that in countries worldwide where menstrual hygiene is taboo, girls in puberty are typically absent for 20% of the school year. Most girls drop out at around 11 to 12-years-old and miss school not simply because they fear being teased by their classmates if they show stains from their period, but also because they are not educated about their periods and their need for safe and clean facilities is not prioritised. In India, 66 % of girls’ schools do not have functioning girls’ toilets resulting in a drop out rate of more than 40% of girls after finishing year 5. Around 23 % of girls drop out of school every year in India due to a lack of menstrual hygiene facilities including toilets or adequate disposal units for sanitary pads.
In A Decade of the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC): Rapid Assessment of Processes and Outcomes, undertaken by the Water and Sanitation Programme, in 2010, it states, ‘Disaggregating the impacts of sanitation by gender reveals that the privacy afforded by access to adequate sanitation facilities imparts a sense of dignity, especially to women and young girls. Access to safe sanitation in schools is also linked to continued education enrolment by young girls and teenage women, particularly at puberty (Bruijne et al 2007).’ Despite this statement, there has been a lack of attention paid to providing menstrual hygiene services in the TSC. This failing not only impacts directly on girls and women but also on the achievement of Millenium Development Goals relating to social exclusion, access to water, sanitation and hygiene services, education and health.
This failing is partially reflective of the gendered balance of power. The TSC represents a departure from the way that conventional rural sanitation programmes have previously been implemented. According to programme guidelines, the TSC seeks to be community-led and demand-driven rather than target-led and supply-driven. But who is leading the community and driving demand? Women are often excluded from decision-making processes and not represented in community decisions. By generating more awareness of menstrual hygiene, more children can be kept in schools creating a better future for the individual and community, and contributing to MDG 3 of promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. Menstrual hygiene is a critical issue for agencies to address because lack of facilities to ensure it effect the disempowered and improving facilities is in itself a means of empowerment.
A 2011 programme by UNICEF shows how an improvement in facilities can directly lead to a drop in absenteeism. One school in Krishnagiri noted that over two thirds of girls studying in standard 8 and 9 skipped school during their periods with one third of these girls eventually dropping out. Following UNICEF’s Menstrual Hygiene and Management programme and the installation of disposal units in schools, the dropout and absenteeism rate in the school has come down to almost zero and academic performance has reportedly improved. (http://www.unicef.org/india/reallives_7579.htm)
HEEALS (Health, Education, Environment And Livelihood Society), based in Gurgaon, is currently working on an awareness campaign for better sanitation and hygiene practices and the provision of girls’ toilets in five states: Delhi (National Capital Region), Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Leh Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. HEEALS typically works in slum schools or schools in unauthorised areas where no other NGOs are working. It also works with orphanages and refugee camps. Find out more about its Water Sanitation Hygiene and Girl Education Project at www.heeals.org.uk and support our work.