Stories of Change

Students use their new hand washing stations.

Building hand washing stations for students in Cambodia

Children all over the world learn that it’s important to wash your hands after you use the bathroom or before you eat a meal. But what happens when there aren’t sinks at school?

This used to be a problem at Rumdoah Srae Primary School in Cambodia. We recently teamed up with parents, teachers and school leadership to build hand-washing stations for students. School principal In Len told us that before this partnership, it was tough for students to have good hygiene. After all, they didn’t have water! Plus, we helped lead information sessions for students about sanitation and hygiene.

“Since CWS supported the material improvements and helped us organize sanitation and hygiene education, the students now wash their hands properly and regularly,” says Len. “Now students have better hygiene and sanitation in the school compound is much better.”

Once the school had water access, we worked with the teachers to help start a vegetable garden for the students. This, Len said, brings the students together in their free time and builds a kind of “solidarity among them. Their parents and teachers are grateful and thank CWS for supporting – and inspiring – them.” He continued, “Seeing the results from the CWS help, they have raised money to add to the school’s maintenance budget to pay for four more hand-washing stands for the children.”

In a different part of Cambodia, our local partner Association for Development and Our Villager’s Rights teamed up with Boeng Popul Primary school for a similar project. Based on conversations with the school director about what the most pressing needs are, we supported the construction of a two-room sanitary bathroom. It has two hand-washing stations for students, too. This means that all 138 students and their six teachers can have better sanitation.

Once the latrines were finished, and the students had joined the basic sanitation and hygiene lesson, school director Slonh Oeun was happy to tell ADOVIR staff how his students now understand the importance of using a sanitary latrine and washing their hand properly afterwards. Oeun added, “I am especially happy for the girl students because the new latrines give them privacy. Before, when everyone used the open space around the school, it was especially difficult for the girls.” Oeun also noted the environmental sanitation disaster the school used to have. And, of course, he is grateful that such a serious and embarrassing situation is now change. Echoing the director’s comments, village leader Vorn Thouk, said simply, “The parents and I are very happy and grateful for the support and for our children’s better school conditions.”