Hygiene and Health for All: A Young Boy Shows How

Jan 27, 2017
By World Vision Haiti; Edited by Jeannine d’Entremont-Farrar

All too often in Haiti's rural communities, children fall sick with diarrhea, cholera and parasites. The culprit? Dirty hands due to a lack of clean water and knowledge of the importance of hand washing.

Enter ten-year-old Ricardo. When World Vision organized youth clubs in La Belle Mere and started teaching children and youth how to keep themselves healthy by using a clever device they could build themselves, Ricardo took notice. Ricardo has become passionate about improving people's health with proper hygiene. Photo: Evenel Morose/World Vision

He watched closely as youth club leaders demonstrated how to construct a tippy tap out of locally-available materials.

A simple handwashing device with running water, the tippy tap consists of a five-litre container hanging on a horizontal stick. The container can be tipped by pulling a rope through the cap. The rope is attached to a stick lying on the ground, which is pushed down by foot. As only the soap is touched during handwashing, the device is very hygienic.

Excited and eager to help, Ricardo sprang into action. Back home, he managed to find everything he needed and built his own tippy tap, proudly teaching all of his family members how to use it.

Because the nearest water point is only a 15-minute walk, his family was happy to have the device at home. In fact, they were so pleased at Ricardo's initiative, his parents pledged not only to use the tippy tap regularly, but ensure that soap is always available.

News of this spread throughout the village. The other neighbourhood children asked Ricardo to help them make and install tippy taps at their homes.

"With the tippy tap, I wash my hands regularly, before eating my mangoes and after using the toilet," said Ricardo. "I am very happy to see my family and my friends do the same. Now there will be no more death by cholera in my community."

The youth in La Belle Mere have been able to build more than tippy aps. They are motivating their community to adopt healthy handwashing behaviour to protect themselves against cholera and other diseases and save lives.

"My dream is to become a well-known engineer, building tippy taps for all the children of Haiti and never again having a child with cholera," declares Ricardo. "With the love of God and the support of my World Vision sponsor, my parents and my community, I will be able to realize this great dream."

Provide the gift of life with clean water and sanitation.