Stories of Change

Hieng stands in front of the latrine that he built for his family.

CWS efforts in Vietnam positively impacted 40,036 people in 69 communities this year.

Sometimes, building latrines takes a village…health worker!

Traveling to Van San village is a treat for our team in Vietnam. The community has partnered with CWS in the past to focus on environmental sanitation, so it is a particularly clean village. Plus, there are many friendly people here.

One of these people is Hieng, a health worker who has partnered with CWS for a long time to promote sanitation in his community. “Though it is only about 15 kilometers [9.3 miles] from the town center, before CWS help my village faced a lot of sanitation problems,” he told us. “None of the families had latrines; everyone used bushes or the stream instead of latrines. So did I!”

He continued, “Even though I’m a health worker, at that time I did not know what a sanitary latrine was and I had just a little knowledge about environmental sanitation. Then I had the chance to visit a CWS-supported sanitary latrine project and a training course about the issue. With my learning, and help from others, I built a sanitary latrine for my family. It was for other people, too, so they could know what a latrine looked like and how to build one.”

It took some persuasion to spread the use of latrines in his community.  “Not everyone was convinced because people were used to open defecation. So, I explained a lot to them personally during visits to their homes and in village meetings,” Hieng says.

His hard work paid off.  He says, “People gradually were convinced about sanitary latrine benefits, and started making them! Now, every home has one and our village is certified as open defecation free!”

When we asked him about how he has made such great progress, Hieng smiled and said it was all from his learning and practicing since the time he partnered with CWS – in addition to his enthusiasm and sense of responsibility as a health worker to his own village. Hieng also added that he is not the only one responsible for the change; others, including the village leader and Women’s Union members, know a lot too, and they joined with him in this effort with CWS colleagues.