A visual impairment didn’t detract nine-year-old Anisa from her mission: to protect her rural community in Western Guadalcanal Province, Solomon Islands from COVID-19.
Anisa and her brother Paul first heard about the coronavirus pandemic on a local radio program. After a village visit from Plan International’s WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) partner, Live and Learn Environmental Education, Anisa has become something of a public health advocate in her community!
Following Live & Learn’s community awareness and training session, Anisa’s father constructed handwashing facilities in the family home, much to Anisa’s excitement.
“I have been washing my hands using a basin – sinking my hands into the basin. I’m really excited knowing that I have to wash my hands with soap under running water – that is something new for me.” She says. “I will pass the same knowledge to my brother Paul who also has the same disability as myself.’
In fact, Anisa was so enthusiastic about her newfound skills that, with the help of her mother, she translated the handwashing information into the local language, and took to the community, teaching other children in the village about the importance of proper handwashing to prevent COVID-19.
After witnessing his daughter’s enthusiasm, Anisa’s father has been working with local community leaders to expand the hygiene awareness raising sessions to the wider community, with a special focus on how to increase access to handwashing facilities for people with special needs.
When COVID19 caused a global lockdown in all areas of our work, we swiftly adapted our programs, with some transforming entirely to meet the most urgent needs of the people we work with, and to halt the potential spread of the virus.
For example, in Solomon Islands, Plan International WASH staff have been working with local partner, Live & Learn Environmental Education Solomon Islands and Provincial Government staff to raise awareness about COVID-19 and provide advice on construction of household hand-washing facilities in 73 villages in Isabel province, and in a further 24 villages across Western, Choiseul and Rennel Provinces.
The New Times, New Targets Project is an Australian aid initiative implemented by Plan International Australia in partnership with Live & Learn Environmental Education on behalf of the Australian Government.