At the very beginning of Covid, Martin organized a Covid educational campaign for 100 villages, teaching about Covid and how to protect oneself. This was run by the nursing staff, but the children in the afterschool centers were the first to be trained. Twenty of our students were eager to help with the campaign, so they were given flyers to distribute around their villages, and the children did more than distribute the flyers – they also educated each household as they handed out the flyer. The kids LOVED feeling significant – doing something important for their communities – so Martin started “Children’s Clubs”, and each after-school center has its own club.
The primary goals of the clubs are to build the self-confidence of the students, help the kids identify problems in their communities that they want to tackle, strategize how they might accomplish their goals, and implement their strategies. They are developing problem-solving and leadership skills. Students enthusiastically shared with me what they have accomplished. One student said drinking water was a real problem in her community, so her club met multiple times with the Block Development Officer to push their proposal. At first the officer didn’t pay much attention to them, but they persevered and eventually he was so impressed with the kids he put in a well, a water tank, and piping to three locations in the village where people can fill up their containers with clean water.
Another club wanted a road elevated in their community. During the rainy season their village becomes surrounded by water. To get out of their village and to their school, they have to wade through water on an inundated, muddy road. They wrote up a petition, every child signed it, and they submitted it to a district official. The government ended up performing a road survey and paved the troublesome road.
In a third village, girls were troubled because there was no toilet at their school. They petitioned their school administration and received a girls’ toilet for the school. Every village has a group of elders whose function is to do something similar, but officials typically ignore the requests of the adults. They are moved, however, by the petition of the children. Here comes the next generation of changemakers!!