The story of Sonia
“Coming to school is no longer a problem for us,” says Sonia, an 11-year-old girl from Rajasthan.
Today, Sonia is happy to act as the prime minister of the Child Cabinet of Kanyala Ghata Primary School in Rajasthan, India. She mentions with a smile: “Coming to school is no longer a problem for us. My friends and I are very happy that Hiralal sir met the senior members in the community and started having discussions and meetings with them. Our parents were also called to attend these meetings.”
Sonia points to UNICEF-supported work at in their school and how engaged their teacher, Mr. Hiralal, is to the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project and spreading the word of clean water, sanitation and hygiene to the whole community. Sonia is a member of the Child Cabinet, which is a school-based council of students who guide students and communities with sanitary issues.
“First, we were very curious to know what was happening concerning our school. Soon, we were overjoyed when Hiralal sir came to our classroom and explained water, sanitation and personal hygiene to us and how, from now on, the Child Cabinet can work more actively around these issues as toilet and water facilities in the school are being suitably repaired,” continues Sonia.
Kanyala Ghata Primary School has the strength of 125 students enrolled in grades 1 to 5 and is located in the hilly and semi-arid Dungarpur district in Southern Rajasthan. In the village where the school is located, health and hygiene issues were a very low priority for people and there are only a few natural sources of water in the district.
“Very soon, we saw a lot of changes happening; toilets were made functional, and a group handwashing station was installed on the school campus to enable us to wash our hands before having our food and after using the toilet. Hiralal sir also spoke to us about ‘safe water’ and now we know that drinking water should be pure (uncontaminated) for us to remain healthy,” Sonia points out.
Sonia points out the results of the UNICEF-supported WASH project at their school, which has been a success and not only students but the whole community is now conscious of the importance of clean water.