Trained by the association Clowns without Borders, the SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL teams in Bangladesh have been conducting playful hygiene awareness activities for several months now to reinforce the impact of the prevention messages against Covid-19.
Clowns Without Borders uses laughter and play to support and inspire children in humanitarian settings. Between July and September 2020, the association (Sweden and UK) trained our teams remotely to set up playful hygiene awareness activities in the Rohingya refugee camps and the host communities of Teknaf in Bangladesh. “Previously, our teams conducted traditional hygiene promotion sessions: it was a bit repetitive, always the same messages delivered in the same way and we were losing people’s attention. Thanks to the new methods learned with Clowns Without Borders, we are able to attract more people,” says Farhad Bin Alam, Deputy Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Coordinator for SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL in Bangladesh.
“The children feel much more involved”
“This new approach, based on stories, songs and games, works particularly well with children,” says Jainal Abedin, Hygiene Promotion supervisor for SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL in one of the Rohingya refugee camps in Teknaf. “It stimulates their curiosity. They feel much more involved,” explains Farhad Bin Alam.
Collected by our teams in the field, the children’s testimonies are indeed very positive. “I enjoyed it because there were a lot of songs and games,” says Farroq, a 9-year-old Rohingya refugee. “I have learned hand washing before eating, after using latrine, after coming back to home. Using face mask,” he says. Shariat Ullah, a 12-year-old Rohingya refugee, is equally enthusiastic: “I have enjoyed a lot. The game was making me smile and the story was interesting. I have learned how to wash hands, what to do after sneeze, how to use sandal (when using latrine) and how to keep safe from distance,” he says. “It saves our lives,” he concludes.
“We’ve changed our behavior”
Seniors and women also view these activities favorably. “After the session, we changed our behavior and properly maintain Covid-19 rules,” says Sabera Begum, a Rohingya refugee and mother of three.
If this new approach is well received, it is also because the training provided by Clowns Without Borders has helped to strengthen the skills and commitment of our teams in the field. “We learned how to conduct an awareness session from A to Z, how to be playful and stimulate attention so that people don’t fall asleep,” emphasizes Jainal Abedin. “The Clowns Without Borders training really helped us. It taught us how to get people’s attention in a very short period of time and thus increase the impact of our awareness sessions in order to change people’s behavior,” confirms Ashis Chakroborty, Hygiene Promotion supervisor for SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL in Teknaf’s host communities. These activities are currently ongoing and should continue until the end of the year.