Now more than ever, our projects that work to improve access to good sanitation and hygiene for children with disabilities are crucial. This quarter we can share with you the completed designs for our educational comic book, which is our new creative tool to help facilitate this.
This creative learning tool was designed as part of our project funded by Jersey Overseas Aid, which seeks to advance the inclusion of girls with disabilities into education in Musanze, a rural area of northern Rwanda.
A major challenge for young girls with disabilities is having the knowledge and confidence to manage their own health, sanitation and hygiene practices, which is essential if they are to stay in school long enough to complete their education and build a bright future.
Often girls with disabilities are not included in key learning about these practices, including sexual reproductive health, as often teachers lack the skills to teach in an inclusive way. This means many girls then drop out of school when they start puberty due to feelings of isolation and shame.
As part of our WASH project, which also modifies inaccessible sanitation facilities and provides 1:1 mentoring, inclusive group mentoring with girls with and without disabilities, personal hygiene kits and parent support, the comic book was imagined to better translate crucial hygiene practices to younger children.
Together with our partner Uwezo Youth Empowerment (UWEZO) we worked closely with the female mentors from the project, who are young women with disabilities, to design and finalise the key wording that was deemed to be most effective in encouraging positive habits in children’s routines.
The impact of the comic will be hugely significant as it will not only break down crucial aspects of sanitation and hygiene greater facilitating their implementation, but it will also most likely be the first instance in which our young beneficiaries see characters in a comic book that are representative of children just like them.
The ‘Hygiene Heroes’ are characterised as superheroes from Rwanda who have disabilities and go on adventures to teach others important lessons.
They talk about issues including the importance of frequent hand washing, drinking clean water, how to cope with your period, picking up litter and brushing teeth, all in a simple, encouraging and reassuring way. The comic book uses a large print font and will be printed in different languages and in braille to make sure it is fully accessible for all children to learn from.
We are so grateful to Marc Jackson from ‘Marc Makes Comics’ who brought our comic book to life with his fantastic illustrations of the characters who will empower their readers to take charge of their own health, and in turn their futures.