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This musical approach may surprise but its impact is undeniable. The tearoom owner has also changed his hygiene practices and invites his customers todo the same. Situated on the roadside, the place is very busy, which facilitates raising the awareness of a great number of people.
Mohammad Belal Uddin is the water, sanitation and hygiene project manager. He leads these meetings with the camp residents, supported by community volunteers and the singer. He manages the session, ensures that people understand the messages and distributes a basic hygiene kit containing a towel, nail-clipper and soap to the participants. “A year ago, we began to work with new arrivals. The conditions were terrible: no access to water, no latrines, and no waste management. The people threw their rubbish and faeces into the canals. This was the perfect situation for the development of water-related diseases such as diarrhoea that can lead to malnutrition. Now, even though the shelters are makeshift, there is more access to basic services. Knowledge and behaviour have also improved »
Selim Kham himself experienced the same evolution within his family. He fled Myanmar in 2008 due to a similar violent situation and, at just 28 years old, heis now a community volunteer for Action Against Hunger. « I am happy to have the opportunity to teach people how to improve their living conditions and prevent disease. I am learning at the same time. I have convinced my family and neighbours of the importance of such behaviour. I have a 4 year old boy. Now, every time my wife gives him some food, she makes sure that he has washed his hands before eating. In Myanmar, we washed our hands using only water. Now, we know that we have to use soap. These small details make a big difference. »
A few alleys away, another type of hygiene promotion session is taking place. Far from the serious atmosphere of the tea room, around fifteen children are gathered under a bamboo-covered patio. Between fits of laughter, the community volunteers have a hard time disciplining everyone. Gradually, the boys and girls start to settle. The session can begin: a role play to explain how germs are transmitted from one person to another, by touch. Taking turns, the children repeat the seven stages for washing their hands.