By NQ Dung
Vietnam Country Representative
I always feel good each time I return to Vang San village: not only because the village is so clean as a result of CWS environmental sanitation partnering, but also because of the man friendly people here, including Hieng.
Hieng, 47, is from the Thai ethnic group and looks much younger than his age. He is health worker for Vang San village and has partnered with CWS for a long time to promote sanitation in Vang San. “Though its only about 15 kilometers from the town center, before CWS help, my village faced a lot of sanitation problems sanitation,” he said. “None of families had latrines; everyone used bushes or the stream instead of latrines. So did I!”
He continued, “Even though I’m a health worker, at that time I did not know what a sanitary latrine was and I had just a little knowledge about environmental sanitation. Then I had the chance to visit a CWS-supported sanitary latrine project and a training course about the issue. With my learning, and help from others, I built a sanitary latrine for my family. It was for other people, too, so they could know what a latrine looked like and how to build one.” However, Hieng said, “Not everyone was convinced because people were used to open defecation. So, I explained a lot to them personally during visits to their homes and in village meetings. People gradually were convinced about sanitary latrine benefits, and started making them! Now, every home has one and our village is certified as open defecation free!”
Answering my question about how he could do such a great job, Hieng smiled and said it was all from his learning and practicing since the time he partnered with CWS – in addition to his enthusiasm and sense of responsibility as a health worker to his own village. Hieng also added that he is not the only one responsible for the change; others, including the village leader and Women’s Union members, know a lot too, and they joined with him in this effort with CWS colleagues.
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