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Sujay Joseph
| August 15, 2020 | Touching Lives

Being Ahead of the Game

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic -Butterflies trained Child Health Educators in India’s most marginalized communities to promote safe and healthy practices to their peers and other vulnerable kids. Read how Prachi shared the “correct way of washing hands” and the “importance of clean surroundings” years in advance to promote healthy and safe living and forestall the spread of disease causing viruses. Child Health Educators (CHE), are one of the important child facilitators of Child Health & Sports Cooperative (CHSC) and are promoters and grassroots health educators among their peers. Every year, selected children undergo training which includes administering first aid, addressing minor health issues and hospital visits to understand the functioning of hospitals. Prachi is one such CHE who was elected a few years ago. During her tenure she proactively organized weekly sessions on health issues and also led a collective action on cleanliness and proper disposal of garbage in her locality. Here’s how she carried her training as a CHE into her own neighborhood during the lockdown.

Prachi (15-years old) lives with her mother and two siblings in a rented accommodation in Sadar Bazar, Old Delhi. She is smart, intelligent and a natural leader, a perfect student of any teacher. Prachi was studying in grade 7, when she first joined Butterflies’ education programme in 2017. What caught her attention was the health sessions especially the philosophy behind CHSC (being responsible for not just one’s health but others’ health too).

In her own words, “after joining CHSC, I attended many sessions on dengue, malaria, balanced-diet, life style diseases, personal hygiene, dehydration. But I was particularly influenced by the sessions on personal hygiene, cleanliness, and sanitation. The information shared during these sessions made me understand the importance of adopting good hygiene practices. Though I was doing it even before but I wasn’t doing it regularly. But gradually things changed and I started following good hygiene practices regularly with my family.”

Prachi was elected CHE in 2018 and during her tenure she proactively organized weekly sessions on health issues and also led a collective action on cleanliness and proper disposal of garbage in her locality. People in her neighbourhood would dump garbage all over the street. Prachi raised this issue in the Bal Sabha and along with other CHSC members pasted posters in the neighbourhood and spoke to the shopkeepers and the residents about the importance of cleanliness. As a result shopkeepers assured the children that both they and their customers will properly dispose the garbage in the area.

In this Covid-19 lockdown, Prachi and her family are strictly maintaining their sanitation and hygiene habits and encouraging others too. “I am continuing to use the knowledge gained during the sessions like frequent hand washing (seven steps taught by didi for full 20 seconds), keeping common surfaces and our houses clean. We used to keep our house clean to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and to protect ourselves against Dengue and Malaria but now we do it more rigorously. We now even wash or clean things we buy from outside such as grocery items, medicines, etc. Objects or areas that we would clean every few months or weeks, we now try to clean every day or every few days. We know that the only key to keeping one safe from this virus is personal hygiene and cleanliness. Another thing that my family has adopted is the policy of ‘no outside food.’ Earlier I would avoid outside food to stay healthy but now we are doing it to keep ourselves safe from the virus as well”, says a confident Prachi.

With proper education and awareness on health and hygiene, children can become advocates of health and hygiene and be responsible not just for themselves but for others’ health too.