An estimated 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities that hygienically separate human excreta from human contact. Rotarian Alfredo Pérez knows the schools in Guatemala and neighboring countries can use all the help available in this area.

The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools Target Challenge focuses on providing clean water and sanitation systems, and equipping teachers to educate students on better hygiene practices.


So, when Carlos Flores, then governor of District 4250 (Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras), asked Pérez in 2016 to get involved with the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools Target Challenge, he quickly accepted. As the name suggests, the pilot program focuses on providing clean water and sanitation systems, and equipping teachers to educate students on better hygiene practices.

“The objective of the project is to develop good hygiene habits in children,” Pérez says. “By reducing absenteeism due to diseases that are acquired due to lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene in schools, we can increase their academic development. Training teachers to help children develop good hygiene habits is key.”

Indeed, more than a year after the effort began, the Rotary Club of Valle de Guatemala, where Pérez is a member, has improved conditions for as many as 1,793 children from 10 schools in the town of Escuintla, about 40 miles south of Guatemala City, the capital. 

Corporación Energías de Guatemala, an energy company, backed the project with a $62,000 grant. Pérez’s club and the Rotary Club of Escuintla worked with local public health officials and urban and rural planners. The project provided toilets, washing stations, and water tanks, and also supported training for teachers so that the facilities would be put to good use.

This year, members of Pérez’s club have a budget of $30,000 for work at five more schools. 

Pérez is giving talks around his country in hopes of recruiting more clubs to take up the challenge in their communities, and he’s seeking international partners to help expand the program.

Educators tell Rotarians that fewer students now miss school because of gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses, which sometimes spread by poor hand washing or lack of safe water.

–Jenny Espino

Deployment News
Guatemala - Volcanic Eruption
Guatemala has been left reeling by the most violent and devastating volcanic eruption for 44 years.
The Fuego Volcano has spewed lava, ash, rocks and deadly hot gas onto hillside villages, killing at least 100 people. More than 12,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, whilst the entire community of El Rodeo is said to be buried.
We have a team in Guatemala working to understand the problems that families are facing right now, and to see how we can help with emergency shelter aid to help families start to rebuild their lives. 
Kenya - Floods
Australian Response Team volunteer, Ricahard Brammall in Kenya
Across Kenya heavy rain and landslides have caused over 300,000 people to leave their homes.
A dam burst in Kenya's Rift Valley has killed more than 50 people in two villages, half of them children. The reservoir, situated on top of a hill 120 miles from Nairobi, gave way as nearby residents were sitting down to their evening meals. The deluge swept away power lines, homes and buildings, including a primary school. 
A team is currently on the ground, working with local organisations and Rotary groups to understand how and if ShelterBox can help. Gold Coast-based ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member, Richard Brammall is currently in Kenya. This is Richard's first deployment since completing his training last October and we wish and the team the best of luck.
Vanuatu - Volcanic Eruption
 Image © Red Cross Vanuatu
ShelterBox is proud to be providing an Operations Team Lead to support the Vanuatu Government and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in supporting shelter coordination for affected families after the recent volcanic eruption on Ambae island in April 2018. All 13,000 of the island's residents are affected.
This is the fourth time ShelterBox has supported the work of the Shelter Cluster at country level, including in Malawi, Iraq and Peru.
Assessments are under way to determine how best to help the most vulnerable families on the island, and to help those who choose to leave the island and settle elsewhere in the upcoming months. There are no plans to send any ShelterBox aid at present.
ShelterBox has ongoing deployments in BarbudaCameroon, Chad, Iraq, Niger, Nigeria, and Syria.   

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