School management and teachers from six schools in Port Vila, Vanuatu, came together for a two day induction workshop to establish their Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) in Schools programs. They also participated in a special focus program on Menstrual Hygiene Management, which included the Acting Director of Education in Vanuatu, the National Director of the Primary School Program, the Deputy Principal Education Officer for Shefa Province and the Natinoal Early Childhood Education Coordinator (pictured above).
During the two days participants discussed WASH and the 15 education standards in Vanuatu, and explored how good hygiene and access to safe sanitation contributes to academic success and economic growth. They also participated in activities to understand the dynamics of behaviour change and how WASH activities can fit into overall school commitment to improving health. Opportunities to influence hygiene behaviour change in the schools were documented for teachers, students, parents, school council, and also the cleaning and maintenance staff.
Each school established its WASH Committee during the meetings, and were briefed on the baseline data collection process that Live & Learn will conduct in partnership with the WASH Committee members in each school. The participants also explored the concept of WASH Champions and made plans for establishing student-led WASH Clubs in each school.
Live & Learn Vanuatu is working with Mama’s Laef to improve access to affordable, reusable sanitary pads. The Mamma’s Laef Washable Sanitary Pad project was established in Pango Village, Vanuatu in 2015. Washable Sanitary Pad kits are sewn by ni Vanuatu women. The kits are washable sanitary pads that are a comfortable, environmentally friendly alternative to disposable sanitary products. The kits have a life-span of 3 years and cost only 55 cents per month (compared to $3 a month for single use sanitary pads).
Representatives from Mama’s Laef presented kits of reusable sanitary pads to each of the six schools as part of a special event during the induction workshop to mark the importance of addressing menstrual hygiene in the WASH in Schools program. Pictured above is Mr Webster, Chairman of Freshwater Bilingual School, receiving a reusable sanitary pad kit from Mama’s Laef. Freshwater Bilingual School is the biggest school in Vanuatu, with more than 1600 students). Mr Webster commented: “In my society, women are valued and treasured….Menstruation is not a period of segregation but a period of regeneration.”