The nearly 200 pupils at a school in Tabarre – a slum near to the Haitian capital – now have the use of a new school latrine. Three cabins serve the teachers, boys and girls, with a separate area for menstrual hygiene and attached hand washing stations. To help the students and teachers to use their new facilities, advisory posters on correct hand washing and menstrual hygiene have been provided.
Menstrual hygiene no taboo
Malteser International is working to change local attitudes towards menstruation: a poorly-understood topic which is often taboo. “Every month young girls miss between four and five days in class because they don’t have reasonably sanitary facilities at school, the necessary hygiene articles or because they know almost nothing about their period,” explains Jelena Kaifenheim - Malteser International’s Project Manager for Latin America, “because of this, they are not just missing important material. In the long term they’re placing their future at risk.”
As a part of this initiative, Malteser International is supporting the Haitian students in achieving good menstrual hygiene. “We also build hand washing stations and latrines with special cubicles, where the girls are able to safely take care of the necessary hygiene at school,” continues Kaifenheim, “this is where we can make a lot of difference with little improvements: for example by putting in waste bins which can be closed, facilities for hand washing and cleaning, as well as a mirror.” In this way, Malteser International can make an important contribution to creating an environment which gives both girls and boys an equal chance to learn.
Sanitary facilities and hygiene classes for 15,000 students
In the slums of Tabarre and the bordering shanty towns of Cité Soleil – one of the largest in the Western hemisphere – 56 percent of households and 75 percent of schools have no access to sanitation. “Before the building work, my students would have to walk more than two kilometres to the next toilet” said the head teacher, “so I’m also very happy that the project has turned out so well. Alongside the hygiene promoters from Malteser International, I’d be happy to help with the upkeep myself.” To keep up the improvement in conditions brought by the latrine, the school has employed a cleaning lady who also keeps it stocked with toiletries and instructions for their use.
With the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Malteser International will develop sanitary facilities at 55 schools in the slums of Tabarre and Cité Soleil, and provide essential sanitary education to a further 15,000 school children. As well as providing an improvement to conditions on the ground, this will ensure that the standard of health and nutrition among the inhabitants will continue to improve in the long term.
Malteser International works for the improvement of the water supply in many countries, as well as the provision of sanitation and education in hygiene for the population. In the last year alone, more than 300,000 people have the projects of Malteser International to thank for providing them with water filters, rain water collection tanks and water supply systems to ensure that they have access to enough clean drinking water every day. In 2014, the Malteser International constructed or repaired 4,700 latrines - giving around 95,000 people access to sanitation. Click here for more information on our WASH projects.