By Millicent Senava Mannah
The Mother’s Choice Foundation, through their ‘WASH TOK Project’, funded by USAID through YALI Regional Leadership Center, Accra, Ghana, and also complimented by local partners like Leone Rock Metal Group and World Vision SL, has held a one-day seminar where they donated WASH items to two universities and eight secondary schools within Freetown as part of their three-month WASH TOK Project. This auspicious event took place on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, at the Africell American Corner, Bathurst Street, in Freetown.
The items donated were trash cans, mops, brooms, and brushes. The beneficiaries are the Gender and Development Studies Department (FBC) and the Public Sector Management Department (IPAM). All Nations Secondary School, Sierra Leone Muslim Congress, and Government Rokel Secondary School, amongst others.
It must be noted that the Mother’s Choice Foundation is an organization that advocates for the privatization of sexual reproductive health and rights and equal opportunity for women in entrepreneurship, challenging all social norms and traditions and breaking barriers.
Santos Kamara, the founder and president of the aforementioned organization, intimated that the unappealing state of public WASH facilities in schools and universities has contributed to the spread of infectious diseases and that it has now become a tropical issue.
“Poor public wash and poor personal hygiene etiquette are unhealthy practices. During the Ebola epidemic as well as the COVID-19 pandemic in Sierra Leone, WASH TOK was everywhere; no sooner the number of patients declined, the WASH TOK was abandoned.” He stated.
Santos maintained that anyone can be infected by poor sanitation in public WASH; however, girls are more vulnerable and easy to contact for these infectious diseases because of the way their bodies are designed.
He pointed out that the WASH TOK aims to spark behavioral change and ensure these facilities are safe for girls in learning institutions.
The US Embassy representative, Mangiardi Krista, said that in Sierra Leone as well as many parts of the world, the availability of proper sanitation is not just a matter of convenience; it is a plight.
She commended the organization for undertaking such an initiative to improve Public WASH facilities in schools and universities.
Mangiardi advised the beneficiaries to handle the items well so they could serve the purpose much longer.
Peter Gaima, WASH Manager, World Vision International SL, stated that poor sanitation in public facilities is an alarming issue, stating how they have also been playing their own part in partnering with local organizations to cub the poor sanitation issue in the country.
He also commended the organization for such an initiative, urging them to continue. He maintained that the wellbeing of people living in a community depends on their level of sanitation. Further, poor sanitation in public WASH can lead to infections and other diseases.
The seminar was also graced by Dr. Hawanatu Barrie, who spoke on the importance of WASH to sexual reproductive health rights; Dr. Ahmed Alhassan Sheriff, Oral and Dental Relations to WASH; and Dr. Manni Amara, who also spoke on personal hygiene and sanitation.
One of the beneficiaries, Hassan Kargbo, a student of IPAM, commended the organization and their partners for undertaking such a laudable venture. Maintaining how the event was an enlightening journey, and the wealth of knowledge imparted has undeniably enriched their understanding of the subject matter.
Another participant, Zainab Mansaray, expressed how genuinely thankful he is for the opportunity to engage in such a thought-provoking experience. According to her, the efforts of the organizers have not gone unnoticed, furthering how their collective learning journey has been immensely enhanced.