Plan International Works With Pakistani Community to Bring Toilets to School
Plan partnered with community advocates and school officials to ensure access to quality education.
Fatima washes her hands
When community worker Rai Nasir heard the local primary school for girls in Vehari, Pakistan did not have a proper toilet or a clean water supply, he knew he had to do something about it, and Plan International proved to be the perfect partner.
“Women and children are the most neglected segment of my society,” he said. “I was always keen to do something positive for the children in my community, so when some of the parents told me about the need for a water pump in the girls’ primary school, I took it upon myself to sort the matter out.”
Rai contacted the school’s head teacher, Azra Parveen, who revealed the school was underfunded.
“As a head teacher, I was embarrassed that there were no proper toilet and water arrangements for children and teachers,” said Azra. “Some children used the old toilets which were without water. It was dirty and unhealthy and their parents would often have to wash soiled clothes on a daily basis.”
The situation was so bad for some, teachers and children would go home to use the bathroom, which meant missing out on class. In some instances, children would not return.
Rai and Azra decided to join forces to campaign for better hygiene facilities at the school. After lobbying the local government for more than two years, they were put in touch with Plan. Recognizing the need for access to education for girls and children, Plan took immediate action and constructed a new toilet block and installed an electric water pump and tank.
Now, Azra, along with health supervisor, Saista Parveen, promote the importance of health and hygiene by encouraging children to wash their hands after using the toilet, as well as before eating.
“The absence of health and hygiene facilities in schools really does affect children,” Saista said. “In our health unit, we deal with an average of 50 cases per month of children who are suffering from fever, flu, and scabies, but the construction of the toilet block and installation of water pump is a good step.”
“Thanks to the supply of clean water, I can wash my hands with soap and clean water after I have used the bathroom,” said 7-year-old Amna Bibi.
Fatima, 8, has taken it upon herself to educate others about the importance of hand hygiene.
“Now that we have access to clean water at my school, I encourage other children to wash their hands with soap so they can protect themselves from germs,” she said. “I have also told my mother how washing hands with soap can help avoid diseases.”