New Toilet, Better Environment

8-year-old Xiao Li, a smart and lovely Miao Ethnic girl, studies at the second grade this year. She lives in a remote Miao Ethnic village at the west of Liping County. Due to the village’s poor resource and economic condition, her parents had to work as migrant workers to make a living and left Xiao Li to live with her grandparents. Xiao Li and her little friends like playing in school. She said, “The school is wide and open. It is safe for us to play there.”

Xiao Li studies in the only primary school of her village. Its teaching building and toilet were built in 1994 with funds raised by the villagers. Due to the limitation of capital and technology, the original toilet was just with 7 squats in total, 4 for male and 3 for female. All of the 196 teachers and students and villagers near-by had to use the only toilet. The difficulty of using toilet has been troubling them for a long time. During breaks, students often rushed to the toilet and stood in a long line outside the toilet. Therefore, Xiao Li was often late for classes.

This is a look of the old toilet in Xiao Li’s school, with safety risk and without wash basin.

The toilet has no septic-tank, so it became a smelly place where mosquitoes commonly breed. What’s worse, it lies right beside the school canteen, which threatens the students’ health. In addition, cracks start appearing in the outer wall and the ground of the toilet, which threatens the students’ safety.

In order to improve the school’s health environment, strengthen children’s health awareness, prevent children from disease, remove the safety risk from the school toilet, and enable children to study in a safe and clean environment, with the support of sponsors, World Vision built a new toilet with 14 squats and 1 three-level septic-tank for the school. The students have no need to rush to the toilet during breaks anymore. Xiao Li said happily, “We have a new toilet, so we don’t have to spend much time standing in a long line outside the toilet. The new toilet is very clean, and we don’t have to put up with the stink when we have meals in canteen or have classes in classroom.”

This is a look of the newly built toilet.

In conjunction with the construction of toilet, World Vision carried out a hand washing behavior change communication activity in school, so as to help children fully understand that hand washing is an important way to prevent disease and gradually form a good health habit.  In the activity, project workers told children to wash hands before having meals and after going to toilet and playing games. They also taught children proper hand washing steps by demonstrating on spot. 

Xiao Li (in red) has mastered the correct steps of handwashing. She is washing her hands after she’s been for a leak.

“After World Vision’s hand washing activity, teachers and senior students of our school taught us to wash hands with soap. Now I have learned how to wash hands with soap by proper steps and. Besides, I taught my grandparents the hand washing steps at home. When my parents return home, I will teach them too.” Xiao Li said with a big smile on her face.

Xiao Li (middle in the first row) and her peers are very happy as they have a new and clean toilet.

A school canteen worker said, “After we have the new toilet with three-level septic-tank, we never smell stink in the canteen, and we feel relieved when we work in the canteen. And after the hand washing activity, children now wash hands actively before having meals and wash their bowls and chopsticks. It’s really a good change!” (written by Yao Lungui and Lu Zhenyan)