3-9 CHAST write up

Danielle and 2 students discussing the pictures

This is the write-up I just did for my boss about what I spent the last week doing.  It isn’t my usual style of blog post, but it is proff that I do work once in a while.

The Children’s Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (CHAST) is a toolkit originally developed in Somalia by Caritas, Int to address hygiene and sanitation issues with children.  The toolkit follows the same participatory methodology as the Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) for adults.  The aim of the program is to use pictures to convey messages about hygiene and sanitation to children who are pre-literate in a way that engages them in their own processes of cleanliness. 

Showing off the pictures they colored

The toolkit consists of a manual, two character puppets who act as guides through the process, two more puppets for small puppet shows and about 100 images.  The workshop is broken into modules with one to three activities per module.  The activities can be run serially over the course of a few days or spread out in installments of an hour at a time once a day or once a week.  Along with the hygiene and sanitation objectives, the goals of the program include soft skills like public speaking, group collaboration and critical thinking.

The impetus for CHAST in Vanuatu started with the discovery of the Somalia manual online while searching for a PHAST manual.  They determined that CHAST did not meet the needs of their community and focused their efforts on PHAST.  The manual was mentioned in trainings about PHAST and the idea of a toolkit directly addressing the children caught the attention of several volunteers.  A cross-project committee was formed to create a pilot toolkit for Vanuatu.

The silly faces at the end of first day. 
I think I’m being the silliest.

Behavior change is easiest in children and children are the most likely to spread messages that encourage behavior change.  By targeting that population, we hoped to have a high instance of behavior change which may “trickle up” to the adults.
We started to develop the toolkit in April, 2011.  It took several months to complete the drawings, create the puppets and have a pilot toolkit ready for testing.  By the time all of it was put together, it was time for school break.  We waited until the start of the new year and ran a test pilot the third week of school.

The Poop Demon and Clean Fairy with the guides through the program.

The CHAST workshop was a positive experience for everyone involved.  The two PCV facilitators were assisted by the regular teacher of a mixed-grade class spanning years 1-3.  The entire workshop took about 7 hours spread across three days with nine participants.  The transformation in public speaking and confidence of the students over the three days was as rewarding as the increased knowledge of hygiene behaviors.  The children started the workshop with presentations that were barely audible, their backs turned and their hands in front of their faces.  By the last presentation, each student turned to face their audience, pointed to the picture they were describing and spoke clearly.  The best surprise happened when we went to the bathroom to discuss the proper use of the facilities.  The students had just seen a puppet show about banishing stinky-poop demons with soap and water.  When they got to the bathroom, the discovered their own bathroom was like the one in the puppet show.  They decided to banish their own demons and spontaneously cleaned the toilets, without any prompting by the facilitators.

Though the toolkit requires some revisions, the baseline that we’ve created seems to be functional.  We will spend the next two months refining and re-testing the toolkit we have now then make it available to other PCVs and NGOs in Vanuatu.

Practical lessons: How to wash hands!
Roylline really knows the answer

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