At Habitat, our work is not only about empowering individuals, but entire communities.
In Bangladesh we are working closely with communities to provide water, sanitation and hygiene training and facilities. As part of this program, 13 year old Maruf joined a School Hygiene Group set up by Habitat to train students on hygiene practices.
Maruf hadn’t had any hygiene training previously and after joining the group and learning the importance of sanitation and hygiene, he was inspired to improve the hygiene practices of his whole family. At first, his parents responded negatively, arguing that their existing practices did not hamper their life. But Maruf did not give up and kept trying to convince his parents on how important it was for their health to adopt improved hygiene practices. Eventually Maruf’s persistence paid off and he motivated his parents to start washing their hands with soap after using the toilet, before preparing food and at other critical times.
After the success with his family, Maruf started to convince his neighbours and relatives to practice better hygiene. He describes motivating others in his community as a challenge. He has been with with resistance and some have chosen not to listen to him or accept his advice. But Maruf is still hopeful and although progress is slow, he is confident he will win the race. Maruf is even thinking about new techniques to motivate villagers and relatives to adopt these healthy habits.
Maruf is thankful for the knowledge he acquired during the training and has become an advocate for the cause. He believes that the school sanitation program should be launched in all schools in Bangladesh, and one day would like to help raise awareness of the importance of hygiene and sanitation in other communities.