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When the Smallest Voices Are the Loudest

3-year-old Innocent, of Malawi, is proving that the smallest voices can sometimes be the loudest.
3-year-old Innocent, of Malawi, is proving that the smallest voices can sometimes be the loudest.
July 30, 2014

A 3-year-old in Malawi is setting an example for others in his village.

When Plan International began encouraging villagers in Gulumba to embrace Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), nobody took to the idea more than Innocent.

The program called for complete latrines with privacy, drop hole covers, and a hand-washing facility, and Innocent’s family had to comply with the requirements.

As mothers were busy teaching their young ones how these facilities work, Innocent’s mother was bothered with the problems that the project had brought to the family. Innocent could not stand seeing dirty latrines, and as a result, his mother was always cleaning.

At first, she ignored him, but she began to face pressure from the neighborhood.

Neighbors came to plead with her because Innocent wouldn’t stop crying until the latrine was spotless.

Innocent’s eye for cleanliness was on full display when he accompanied his mother to the health center.

To his surprise, there was no hand washing facility at the latrine in the center. When his mother told him to come out of the latrine without washing his hands, Innocent couldn’t stop crying.

Eventually, hospital staff members had to assist. As a compromise, the 3-year-old used a nearby borehole. Innocent still wasn’t fully convinced, though. According to him, the borehole is not for hand washing after latrine use.

Innocent’s household now has the cleanest latrine in Gulumba village. According to his mother, it’s all because of how Innocent reacts whenever there is mess. Innocent’s friends have taken after him and most of the Malonda’s neighbors are now keeping their latrines clean.

After all, sometimes a village’s smallest voice can be its loudest.



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