WASH

BUILDING HEALTHY LIVES IN RURAL YUNNAN

The children were amazed to see the purple glow that emerged from on their classmate’s hands under the black-light. The idea of invisible bacteria and contaminants is difficult for anyone to understand. As part of CWEF’s health education curriculum, students participate in a simulation activity in which they see the transfer of ‘bacteria’ from hand to hand contact. The ‘bacteria’ is a transparent powder that is easily spread through contact. The transmission path can be seen when a black-light exposes the invisible fluorescent powder.

In December 2019, CWEF Health Director Jenny Chu led 30 children from two primary schools in Wuding county in rural Yunnan province through a two-day health education “Training of Trainers” session as a part of the HEAL (Health Education Advocacy & Literacy) program. These students will serve as health advocates—providing instruction and modeling to their peers in the areas of good hygiene and health promotion. 

The World Health Organization promotes proper handwashing to prevent illness and reduce the spread of disease. Once rural areas have access to reliable and safe drinking water, additional health and hygiene practices need to be introduced. Through HEAL training, children learn how to thoroughly wash their hands and gain knowledge about bacteria and contaminant transmission. Through reference books, hands-on training, the germ-glow black-light simulation, and a handwashing song, student health advocates learn knowledge and practice good habits. They are also equipped to teach their peers about the importance of handwashing and serve as models for this healthy habit.

In addition to handwashing, the program addresses oral hygiene and proper teeth brushing techniques, healthy diet and nutrition, and importance of keeping a sanitary environment. The training provides children with critical information for healthy living and opportunities for the health advocates to engage with their peers by sharing the information and leading activities. CWEF gathers baseline information regarding the knowledge and personal hygiene practices of the students in order to provide supplemental training and information.

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Project Success Leads to New Work in Tboung Khmum

Since 2011, CWEF has collaborated with local churches and government partners in Cambodia’s Kampong Thom province to improve health through holistic development projects. A pillar of CWEF’s work in Kampong Thom has been the Biosand Water Filter project supported by your generous gifts, which have provided local families with convenient access to clean and safe water in their homes, reducing the impact of water-borne illnesses. Additional work in this area over the past decade has included an Animal Gift project, which has provided sustainable income for 44 low-income families, along with eight new water wells in four villages.

“When a family receives a Biosand Filter, they also participate in health education training related to safe drinking water, how to use the Biosand Filter, and instructions related to installation and maintenance,” shares Kanhchana Thoy, CWEF Cambodia Health Programs Director. CWEF works in partnership with local pastors and village leaders throughout the length of the project, providing these remote communities with life-changing health provisions.

In total, 310 Biosand Water Filters have impacted a total of 2320 people in the Sandan and Chheu Tile communes, serving both families and primary schools. From time to time, the filters need to be renewed and repaired, and this project also restores broken Biosand Filters as needed. We are thankful to share that because your generous gifts, the most acute needs of this remote area have been provided for.


CWEF’s Kanhchana Thoy expresses our gratitude to Pastor Koy Thea in Kampong Thom
Visiting families with Pastor Sareun in Tboung Khmum

Now, our CWEF team in Cambodia is shifting its focus to a new area, again working closely with local church and village leaders. Tboung Khmum province is the location for a newly launched HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy and Literacy”) project, which includes holistic health education and infrastructure like water wells and Biosand Water Filters.

This community development work will help the “large population of older women, who are taking care of their grandchildren and receiving remittances from their adult children (especially daughters) working in urban areas,” shares Kanhchana. In this area, the average income is between $3 and $4 a day. The health education program, coupled with reliable water wells and Biosand Water Filters, will help “communities live better lives by reducing sickness.”



CWEF anticipates a process of 3-5 years to implement a holistic approach as we equip local health advocates and local families in Tboung Khmum with training and infrastructure.

“This project will have a sustainable impact on many families in Tboung Khmum as we equip them with new knowledge and skills they can use to develop their own communities,” shares Kahnchana.

Thank you! Your support continues to help bring a life-changing renewal of health and hope to families in rural Cambodia.

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Health is Priceless

The rising costs of health care is a common concern in the West. People often take for granted the infrastructures and systems that automatically provide sanitary conditions and safe drinking water. Imagine what life is like for people, without health insurance, who are ill on a regular basis by simply drinking (unsafe) water.

Sambo and his wife, Ku, are 25-year-old farmers in the Sandan District of Kampong Thom Province in Cambodia. With a 7th grade education, Sambo makes a living by working the land on farms owned by others. But frequent diarrhea and abdominal pains not only kept Sambo from working; his chronic illness also incurred many medical bills for treatment. The whole family was ill and needed to borrow money just to cover their daily living expenses. The burden was very heavy on Sambo—how to provide for his family and pay the bills? Plus, all the while, they and their young son were struggling with poor health.

Using water from a well and collecting rainwater met their daily needs for washing clothes, cooking, and drinking. Ku believed that the rainwater was clean and was safe to use. However, the family was actually suffering from water-borne illnesses. In 2019, their lives dramatically improved after they decided to participate in a Biosand Water Filter and health training program facilitated by the local church and made possible by your generous donations to CWEF.

Sambo shares, “I regularly bottle the water from the filter and take it to the fields when I work, and I drink a lot of water before I go fishing on the river. All of my family members and I got healthier, and I hope that in the future my family’s living condition will continue to get better.”

Sambo now has enough time and energy to farm and provide for his family’s expenses. Not only are they healthy now—without abdominal pains and diarrhea—but they no longer need to spend so much money on medical treatments. Sambo and Ku can even begin to save money for their family’s future.

Here’s Sambo’s final word to you:

“Now, I am very happy after getting a Biosand Filter from Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation. Thank you for your donations to support my family’s living situation!”


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Your Gifts Power Holistic Health Education

Addressing the health and sanitation needs of rural communities requires a multi-faceted approach. CWEF’s HEAL project addresses the challenge in a holistic manner — improving both the physical facilities as well as much-needed health education to empower people to prevent illness. In rural China, 24% of people still live without access to basic sanitation facilities, and 12% live without access to a reliable source of clean drinking water.

Improving infrastructure

The Heshangzuang Primary School shared water pipes from a central cistern with homes in the village. During the dry season, the water supply was insufficient. In the rainy season, the water became opaque and cloudy with sediment. CWEF’s Heath Director Jenny Chu shares, “During the school period, the normal water consumption of teachers and students was directly affected. In the period of water shortage, the water storage capacity was only enough to meet the needs of the canteen, and the daily water consumption of students and teachers for washing and toilet use was greatly affected.”

During the current Phase 1 of the HEAL project at Heshangzuang Primary School, infrastructure needs were addressed this summer. During July and August 2020, CWEF partnered with local nonprofit Zhengxin Social Work Service Center to create a separate system, made up of a of 30-cubic-meter cistern and new pipes, to provide a dedicated source of clean and reliable water for the school. Jenny Chu reports that the problem has been solved for the school and it will “ensure normal health for more than 70 students and teachers, thus laying the foundation for CWEF’s health education project for students, planned to begin in 2021.”

Creating new materials for health education

CWEF works in partnership with local government agencies and supporting partners including, schools and local non-profit organizations. Students from an international school in Shanghai recently volunteered to create new educational materials to address the need to educate about the novel coronavirus. Jenny Chu shares, “From July to August 2020, Roger Tu, a long-time friend of CWEF, recruited students to design activities and picture books related to health projects through the ‘CWEF health books’ project. Through the volunteer efforts of Zoe and Hui, we have completed the design of children’s mental health awareness and new coronavirus prevention picture books.” These activity books help primary school students gain new knowledge and have fun in a creative way.

This combination of improved facilities, awareness, and habits results in a stronger and healthier community over the long-term. CWEF works with rural communities and schools through the HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy & Literacy”) program, which tackles both the need for proper health-related facilities and the knowledge and behavior change needed for healthy living.


THANK YOU!


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Sustained Health and Hope for Sarer

Sarer was a young wife and mother when she was widowed in 1994 in rural Cambodia. Her husband died of malaria, a common malady for farmers in tropical areas. Sarer lives in a multi-generational home with her elderly mother, along with her daughter and son-in-law. She works hard to provide daily necessities for her family.


“As a widow, without a good education, I don’t have any opportunity to work in higher-paying jobs. I work as a farmer, raising chickens, and I grow some veggies,” shares Sarer. “I remember a few years ago, my mom got sick with typhoid and stomach pains, while my daughter’s health was also weak. It required so much money that I took some loans to solve these problems. I thought that sickness is a part of [normal] life … so I didn’t fight to get anything better.”

Through a CWEF Animal Gift project, Sarer’s livelihood started to improve. She received animal husbandry training and five chickens. Her brood of chickens now numbers around 80! With the money from her chicken business, Sarer purchased a rice mill machine. She sells organic rice and uses the rice bran to feed her animals.



Later, CWEF introduced health training and made biosand water filters available to Sarer’s village. “I learned more about the bad effects of using unclean water.” She discovered that the cause of many diseases that her family and neighboring villagers experienced were from unclean water, such as abdominal pain, typhoid fever, and diarrhea. Sarer was very interested in using a biosand water filter. “I thought that I need to protect myself and take care my family from now on.”

Sarer’s health improved dramatically once she received a biosand water filter in 2018. She no longer needs to search for firewood needed to boil and purify her drinking water. “I trust the biosand filter!” she shares. “I use the water for cooking, drinking, and showering. I am now healthier than in the past. I have more strength to work and take care of my family.”

CWEF’s vision is a “world of thriving communities, serving and inspiring hope in others.” Through CWEF projects, Sarer and her family are now thriving. In her own words, she reflects:

“My life is better than five to six years ago. Thank you so much for bringing the development projects – both Animal Gift and Biosand Filter projects – to my community.”



Support Mothers Like Sarer:

 

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Protection for Today, Health for Tomorrow

In May 2020, student health advocates at Zengyi primary school in Yunnan province received training in specific health knowledge and behaviors, which they have committed to pass on to their peers and to model in their daily life.


Guimei, a 10-year-old student at Zengyi, was selected to be a student health advocate because of her personal discipline, confidence, and natural leadership qualities. She and her family are from the Miao ethnic minority group, and because her home is far away Guimei lives at the school during the week. At home, her family does not have access to sanitary toilets or bathing facilities, so Guimei bathes during the week when she boards at school. It was also at school that Guimei learned crucial health and hygiene lessons through CWEF’s HEAL program.



“I learned to wash my hands frequently, wear masks, have good hygiene, and not eat junk food,” shares Guimei. “If you don’t wash your hands, you will get sick easily. If you don’t brush your teeth, you will get cavities, which will affect your appearance.”

When Guimei returned home on the weekends, she advocated for healthy habits with her parents and grandparents.

“I shared my knowledge of handwashing with my mom and dad, and grandparents. Apart from Grandma, they all think it’s very good. Grandma thinks it’s troublesome and doesn’t like this way of washing hands.”  

In addition to these topics, Guimei and other student health advocates learned how viruses are transmitted, how to avoid and treat diarrhea, and how to avoid accidental injuries such as scalding. Health advocate and trainer Ms. Cao shares, “The HEAL project is designed for the basic needs of the rural population. The personal hygiene habits of rural community and primary school students, as well as the basic conditions for maintaining these habits, are still lacking. The project starts from improving people’s awareness and solving the problems of water, hand washing, bathing, and other essential facilities, which complement each other.” 

These teachings have been foundational to additional education in the current season about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The HEAL training included instructions for proper mask wearing and prevention of this new infectious disease. Guimei shares,  

“I hope the coronavirus will end soon, so everyone can return to school. Studying at home is lonely. I feel sad when I cannot learn more knowledge.” 

Guimei’s principal, Mr. Hua, reflected, “The health project is very good, especially for improving the students’ basic health habits. There are more and more students who wash their hands with soap and hand sanitizer. During the dry season, there is a shortage of water in the reservoir. I hope that we can also solve the problem of water shortage.”  



Beyond the current health crisis, Ms. Cao affirms the HEAL program’s value over the long-term for people in rural China: “Good personal hygiene habits and behaviors are the basis for maintaining health, and should continue to be the focus. Chronic disease has been a major health problem in China, and the root of chronic disease can be traced back to childhood.”  

With their new knowledge and the formation of healthy habits, students like Guimei have a better chance for a healthy future in which they can thrive. About her own future, Guimei shared:              

“I want to be a model when I grow up. I like singing and dancing very much!”


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