Daw, a housewife and her husband U San, a casual labourer live in Phar Pain, Mon State with their three children. U San works in an orchard garden and earns 2500-3000 Kyats each day and Daw takes care of the children and household.
Project LifeChange, supported by homeheaven is working in Phar Pain to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene.
Before Project LifeChange started in Phar Pain, there was no proper drinking water system in the village and water had to be fetched from villages and streams far away. The arduous job of collecting water was left to women and young children and water sources would often be contaminated.
With only a few toilets in the village, most households in Phar Pain practiced open defecation in bushes and fields close by. This saw the spread of diarrhea, skin diseases and other water-borne diseases in the village, particularly among children.
U San’s family often fell ill from diseases like these and had to spend their hard earned money to go to the local rural health clinic and buy medicine. Costs like this made it difficult for U San to save money for the family’s future.
Since Project LifeChange, the community has become more familiar with hygiene practices and aware of fecal-oral transmission routes. Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) trainings and Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) trainings have been conducted in the village. These trainings have helped community members, including U San’s family, better understand how open defecation and the cycle of fecal-oral contamination spreads diseases. The community members involved in the trainings all expressed their commitment to end open-defecation practices in their village, build latrines of their own and keep the environment clean.
Water supply systems have also been developed in Phar Pain including new wells and water containers with treatment and filters have been supplied to the community.
Now, community members have enough water for drinking and other domestic purposes and do not need to walk long distance to fetch water. With safe drinking water, there is less disease. This means community members do not have to miss out on work and can earn more money which can be used to invest in other businesses such as raising poultry and pigs in their own home.
Like other women in her village, Daw no longer needs to walk long distances to fetch water and can spend more time taking care of her household and children. The family now has enough water for themselves, their domestic animals and even a vegetable garden.
Daw has also started raising pigs and chickens with the money her husband has saved. In a few months she will be able to sell the pigs and chickens and earn more than 100,000 kyats for her family.
Daw and U San feel Project LifeChange is making a positive impact in their village and has transformed their lives by reducing poverty and disease in their family. Their children are also healthier after receiving hygiene training at their school and have adapted these habits at home.