Beautiful Hair Weeks! Enabling Children to Attend School with Healthy Hair

Upama Tamla Rai, ECCA Counselor

Head lice infestation is a common problem in school children worldwide bearing both medical and social implications. Besides causing difficulty in concentration and sleep, head lice are known not to have been associated with serious health risks and are not considered health hazards. However, the presence of head lice among students is more concerning due to its social, emotional and academic consequences including social boycott, psychological distress and unnecessary absenteeism in school.

To address and solve this issue, the program “Beautiful Hair Weeks’’ has been introduced by ECCA in various parts of Nepal. The presence of head lice is prevailing both in rural and urban areas. One of the recent Beautiful Hair Weeks program was conducted in 14 schools of ward no. 12 and 13 of Rapti Municipality, Chitwan. The program focused both on school students and households.  Out of 1,217 students who were surveyed,894 students (i.e. 73.5%) were detected with head lice.

“Through this program, we aim to positively change the perception and reaction of students, teachers and the community towards head lice”, shared Suresh Nagarkoti, an ECCA Counselor involved in the program.

The approach of the program was to first orient the parents and teachers on head lice, their life cycle and, most importantly, the impacts of head lice and the need to get rid of them. Secondly, the orientation also included details on the anti-head lice solution, its ingredients and its application process. A practical demonstration was conducted on making this solution by using salt, vinegar and glycerol.

“We never took head lice as a serious issue before this”, shared one of the parents. “But, after attending the orientation and hearing about the consequences our children have had to face in schools and communities, I now regard head lice removal as a vital issue, which can also ensure smooth attendance of our children in school.”  

The orientation was followed by applying anti-head lice solution among the infected students above 3 years of age for 3 consecutive weeks (at an interval of 1 week). Before the application, parents’ consent was also obtained. The solution was not applied to those students having wound on their head.

“We are thankful to ECCA and all the supporters for taking the initiative in such a critical issue” the students responded at the end of the program.

Anti-head lice solution was provided also for 580 households for use among other family members and non-school going children, which benefitted 1,129 beneficiaries. 

ECCA is thankful to Antenna Foundation, Switzerland for the technical knowledge and action medeor, Germany and BMZ, Germany for financially supporting the implementation of this initiative in Chitwan district.

anti head lice solution making
Combing hair after applying anti head lice solution
Before application of anti head lice solution
After application of anti head lice solution
Collection head lice!
Happy child attending school after head lice removal
Orientation for parents

Expect the unexpected: Where each experience became a life-long lesson

Surakshya Godar and Manjit Subedi

(ECCA Counselors)

Namaste!!!

The students greet us.

Numerous greetings, eyes shining and sparkling, ready to work. We were glad amid little ones, who were lively, bright, and innocent at heart. We could not contain all the delights of working with the students of the child club, a group formed in the school with the participation of the students, the concept of which was pioneered in Nepal by ECCA in 1992. After being engaged and collecting experience in various WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) programs, we got engaged in anti-head lice project implemented in 7 schools of Lalitpur district, which was conducted in technical and financial partnership with Antenna Foundation, Switzerland. The program consisted of awareness raising and treatment of head lice. Involvement in the project gave both of us a lifelong experience on trust, feeling of cooperation, altruism, and respect for one another.

Working with the students of the Child club was a great experience. Everyone was always ready, and had their own way of working, managing resources and resolving conflict. Our jaws dropped whenever the lead was taken over by the students – from registering the names to the spraying of anti-head lice solution. As both of us were College students, proper time management was one factor that created ups and downs. Preparing and managing the anti-head lice solution took half day of vigorous work.

Having lived in the urban area and created a fixed mindset of clean hygiene and sanitation was in contrast to the actual situation. Despite having sound knowledge about sanitation and hygiene, the number of students who were infected with head lice was much higher than what we had expected. One little student, in the second week of the program, came running scratching her head saying “me first” as her hair was infested with head lice, which she wanted to get rid of, as she was facing intense itching.

The program took three weeks to complete, as the solution has to be applied three times (in the interval of one week). The Child Club students gave us feedback that the program has changed their behavior and personality, benefitting not only the present scenario but also the future. Some of the skills they gained are – capacity building, teamwork, leadership development and feeling of co-operation.

As ECCA has been focusing on mainly remote areas, getting the experience to work in urban areas and finding (and solving) problems near us was a small blessing for both of us.

During feedback, the parents expressed heartfelt thankfulness, as the head lice was becoming threatening. Both of us are glad to be a part of the anti-head lice project. Reaching the community and dealing with each one of the students was a big break for both of us. ECCA creates an open platform for the youths and respects their ideas. The very essence of helping the community and each person individually benefits immensely, not only the society but the counselors as well. The lessons and the experience gained during the program will be remembered by both of us.

A child club member applying anti-lice solution
Manjit training child club members
Surakshya making anti-head lice solution
The team, after completion of program in one school

Pad (Change) Makers

Sawana Rai

Chatrang is a sparsely populated beautiful village and our overnight accommodation during this three-days training  on ‘Menstrual Hygiene and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene’ is at Early Childhood Development (ECD) classroom of Kalika Basic School nestled perfectly on this hill-top with amazing panoramic view. Today is the second day of our training and the most significant one, for today is the day of ‘Pad Making’! Most of the twenty participants (women group representatives and women of the nearby communities) had yesterday expressed pad making as what they are eagerly looking forward to learn from this training.

The day begins as per the program schedule. Our training hall is one of the classrooms of the school. One can feel the excitement as we are nearing the main session of pad making. I start the session facilitation with a discussion on menstrual products used by them. Most of the women use or used pieces of old clothes as menstrual product and only a few young women use sanitary pads available in the market. As I introduce various menstrual products (like sanitary pad, reusable sanitary pad, menstrual cup and tampon) among these women, some faces are hesitant, some are curious and some are a mix of both. The most easily accessible and practical menstrual product for these women and their communities is reusable sanitary pad, this they all agreed to as I explain the utilities of all the menstrual products.

Now we move on to pad making. The fabric clothes are ready, so are the sewing materials and scissors. We begin the pad making with draft making, where we all trace a sample reusable pad onto a chart paper leaving about an inch on all sides. Then the drafts are traced on 2 equal pieces of fabric clothes which then are cut out and stitched together. Pockets are sewed on the either side of the pads to hold the fabric napkins in place, which are also made separately by each participant. The participants in the hall range from women who have not had much experience with scissors or tracing, to women with sewing interest and experience. Some need assistance to run scissors along the marked lines while some wait patiently with their works done for the others to complete the step. A joke is cracked here and there, now and then – most in their native language –  to which I smile with zero understanding.

Some sat on the floor for comfortability in sewing, some moved closer to the windows for more light to help them sew easily. A participant just noticed she had been stitching her trousers along with her pad! A laughter bursts in the training hall. Mistakes are made, lessons are learnt. I can hear ‘Miss, mero bhayo?’ (Is mine alright, miss?) every now and then from the women with their hands raised showing their completed pad. With the announcement of awarding the top 3 well-made pads, there is a sense of competition among the participants. But these are kind women with the sense of community: one helping another to thread their needle or to keep the clothes in place while stitching or to even stitch some parts as they take a break.

By 4pm, 19 among the 20 participants completed their pads. With the agreement of completing the unfinished pad at home, we end the day and our women leave for their homes where chores await them. These women are tired from hours of sewing today but yet are grateful for the day. On their way out, they tick on the very happy emoji on ‘How was your day today?’ chart placed by the facilitators.

Tomorrow we shall meet in this very hall for the last day of our training after which these women, through their women group, will pass on the learnings to the rest of the communities by conducting pad making trainings. Tomorrow we will hand over the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Kit, consisting of all the required materials for pad making, to the women group representatives, which they will use for the pad making trainings they will conduct in the months to come. Tomorrow will end with hope – hope for these change makers.

A pad prepared by the end of the session
Facilitator helping participants during pad making
Prize to one of the top 3 well-made pad
Participant ticking happy emoji on the ‘How was your day today’ chart

The first camp of my life

  • Alina Dangol

This was officially the first camp I’ve ever been a part of !!!

Before the camp started, I didn’t have a clear insight into what it looked like and how it was conducted. Now, I’ve gotten a clear view of what camps are, why, and how they are conducted. I’ve had a chance to learn about many things from my colleagues, the people out there, and even the participants themselves. I’m optimistic that I was able to share my knowledge with other people as well. Our team was assigned to conduct 5-days ECCA camp at three different schools of Ward 12, Rapti Municipality, Chitwan district in May – June 2022.   

The first thing that stunned me was the contrasting lifestyles people pursue there. I knew life is pretty easy here in Kathmandu but very little did I know; life was that difficult out there in the hills and other regions of the country.

Children didn’t even have a basic concept of hygiene and sanitation. Lives out there were shy, and isolated that they didn’t care much about hygiene and sanitation. They didn’t know how to wash their hands properly, the importance of brushing teeth, and other hygiene-related things. The camp’s motto was to educate the school students  about the needs and importance of hygiene and methods to maintain it.

The five days camp brought me closer to the villagers, children, and even my colleagues themselves. It taught me how we Homo Sapiens, with similar brains, conceive things differently. It helped me understand the different human psychology of different age groups to some extent. It sharpened my skills of adaptability. It equipped me with the skill of analyzing the behavior of the second person and acting accordingly. More than anything, the five days camp brought our team even closer and created an environment where we could grow as a team, as a family. It taught us how to include our differing opinions in the decision-making and implement them in such a way that everyone is triumphant. It enlightened us with the essentiality of coordination and cooperation. It sighted us with a method to efficiently coordinate and cooperate with any person.

Another key feature it enlightened us with was the essentiality of proper planning and the efficient ways to execute them. We planned for 5 days and successfully executed them. The five-days camp consisted of WASH sessions, life skills sessions, nature club establishment, school gardening, and many more.

Through the camp, we successfully educated them on the essentiality of personal hygiene and sanitation. We provided them hygiene kit consisting a toothbrush, soap, toothpaste, comb, handkerchief, and nail cutter and taught them the appropriate ways to use them. Besides, we also taught them school gardening, paper recycling, clay work art, and craft work. We also established a Nature club to carry out different activities, which will help in the overall development of students.

We could see the differences our camp was making in their day-to-day lives. I feel extremely proud to have been a part of this camp. I feel honored to be one of the key members of my group. I’m enthralled to be a small part of the big step to change a particular society. I’m optimistic that we’ve been able to change their perceptions to some extent. I’m assured that our little effort will make a big difference in developing the society, one day. I will be forever indebted to ECCA Nepal, action medeor, and BMZ Germany for providing me an opportunity to sharpen my skills and for making me a part of this camp.

Teaching students how to brush teeth
After hygiene kit distribution
Helping each other for hand washing

The Joy in Recycling!

  • Upama Tamla Rai, ECCA Counselor

“Come on! Please do not tilt the frame that way!”  “Woah!”   “Can I try it first?!”

Loud voices of the participants filled the silent playground of the training premises. One could see the excitement in the participants as they hovered around in circle, hoping to get the next chance of using the paper recycling frame. Despite the hot weather and endless perspiration, our session on recycling paper got interesting by the minute.

“The process of paper recycling seems so simple and cost-effective!” shared a participant while dipping the frame into the wide bucket filled with paper pulp made from waste papers. Recycling frames are used to shape fine papers as it collects the pulp and drips excess water. “Children in our area have lots of waste paper at home and also at school. We can make these types of frames locally and orient them on paper recycling”, exclaimed a youth participant as she took the frame to dry in the sun.

This interest and excitement in fact is a regular feedback from participants in almost every training. As part of our capacity building activities for local youth (Counselor Training Camp), WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) is an unexpendable subject matter of which sanitation takes a major part. The session aims to link sanitation with healthy behavior and moreover, as an initiation to ‘take care of the planet sustainably’. In this regard, youth and children are motivated to start recycling of the waste papers in their schools and community.

The whole process of paper recycling takes about 3-4 days depending on the type of paper used. After the papers are made, one can use them for a variety of purpose such as “Thank You” and greeting card. Especially, ECCA suggests nature clubs in schools to carry paper recycling as part of fundraising activity and also supports the clubs with recycling frames from time to time. This has created a reason for nature clubs to conduct other environment conservation related programs and hopefully, that will also encourage them to be environmental conservationists in the future.

My first ECCA field trip: A teaching-learning experience

Sawana Rai, Counsellor Training, January 2022

A long-anticipated trip to the beautiful East.

Capacity Building Training of Child Clubs (CBTC) for project schools of Jhapa, Morang and Dhankuta districts not only gave me an opportunity to mediate the knowledge I’d learned through Counsellor Training and various workshops in ECCA, it also widened my horizon of understanding children and their school environment. As me and my team conducted the training in Dharan (for schools of Dhankuta district), Morang and Jhapa districts one after another, I couldn’t help but feel the potential glimmering in those hopeful eyes of the participant students. To have had an opportunity to aid those students in some ways to boost their all-round development has filled me up with gratitude towards ECCA Nepal, Taksvärkki ry Finland and all the other contributing actors.

The participants were:

  • Child Clubs representatives of 4 schools of Dhankuta district with hints of rural lifestyles but equally, if not more, active than the rest and full of potential,
  • Child Clubs representatives of 4 schools of Morang district with relatively more access to amenities of urbanization, and
  • Child Clubs representatives of 7 schools of Jhapa district with fair advantage of urbanity.

My first ECCA field trip, first ever session facilitation, first trip to Eastern Nepal, first trip to hot humid Terai region of Nepal; so many firsts. I was excited, curious and nervous all at the same time. I went a facilitator, a trainer, with all my session materials packed to be shown, discussed upon and returned learning from the participants too. To be so eager to know more, to be so present in the moment and to see beauty in little things, the innocent curious child in me that was somewhere submerged amidst the transition into adulthood has been resurfaced.

Story based Nature Club Management Handouts: A new approach of the team to educate the students about Nature Club Management and evaluate the outcome of the support ECCA has been giving to the child clubs in the schools of project areas in the East. The participants were engaged in reading-writing interactive sessions throughout the training where they read short stories about various aspects of Nature Club and answered questions at the end of each story. This approach was openly appreciated by the representative teachers in the trainings as a more effective way of indulging students in learning about Nature Club Management.

The training also included sessions on subjects of Child Protection, Menstrual Hygiene Management, WASH and Children and Environment. The learning environment was fun with emphasis on group works and public speaking. Life skills through games, talent show and titles distribution to the participants based on an appreciative quality of each on the last day of training made the 5 days of training fly by in a blink of an eye.

As I put together these words to express my CBTC experience, I remember getting updates on the sharing programs conducted by the participating students in their respective schools after returning from the training. And it makes me smile every time. It makes me realize how I am a part of change.  A change for the better tomorrow.

Child Club Representatives of Shree Ram Secondary School, Dhankuta solving Hygiene puzzle

Local counsellor Shila Guragai helping me demonstrate the using procedure of reusable sanitary pad during my session on Menstrual Hygiene Management

Child Club representatives of Jhapa performing drama on child abuse during talent show

Samana Rai, Child Club representative of Shree Sagma Secondary School, Morang sharing learnings from CBTC in her school

Susmita Bhandari, Child Club representative of Shree Deurali Secondary School, Dhankuta during program on Child Abuse in her school post CBTC

Counselor Training Camp (9-12 January 2022)

Ajay Tamla Rai

When the term “Training” is discussed, either academically or professionally, it basically implies a teaching and learning process on a particular subject. But, as one who became a trainee in a recent ECCA’s 4-day Counselor Training Camp (CTC), I have come to realize it is more than just “teaching and learning”, it is an open interaction among and between peers who share genuine interest on the subject of past, present and future of environment conservation.

The Camp kicked off on January 9, 2022 with voluntary participation of over two dozen participants from diverse fields; from management, humanities to environment science. On the first day, we learned about ECCA, its three decades of history, numerous contributions and steady evolution from environment conservation to education, health and sustainable future in different parts of remote Nepal. More importantly, we learned and practiced team building, work division, time management and interpersonal communication, which are the bedrock of cooperation, coordination and interdependence for effective and efficient planning organization and implementation of social and environmental projects. On the second day, we learned the practical aspects of WASH, focused mainly on its two dynamics: water and sanitation. From simple refreshing of memory on the importance or need for clean water to the in-depth technical aspects of water purification, or hands-on experience on preparation of recycle paper, we found ourselves actively sharing knowledge and practices. With division of groups into two: one on water and another on sanitation, one group presented what they understood to another and vice versa. This learning and teaching process reinforced our knowledge and understanding on the aforementioned subjects and more importantly developed our ability to co-operate with each other. Likewise, we got to know about Nature club through which, our brothers and sisters from rural schools could spontaneously contribute to betterment of not only their respective schools but also their community at large, even after ECCA moves on to other environmental projects.

Next day, in early morning, everyone met at the “Patan Durbar Square” for a heritage walk. Therein, we witnessed beautiful water reservoirs at different locations while simultaneously learning their importance in urban settings, gleaning cultural perspective on environmental narrative with highlights on the historical relationship in-between heritage and environment. Later, in the training session itself, we got updated about innovative teaching-learning pedagogy in primary schools that encourage self-learning practices from pupils, and likewise, we had another session focused on present scenario on learning concerned with disable or differently abled in Nepal. Other than that, we familiarized with technology on bird identification around our commune, measured humidity and differentiated clouds and formulated various planning and strategy to self-motivate children to take environment initiatives. Besides, we engaged in activities such as wall newspaper, wall comics, and such which could be practiced by children even in remote communities where the available resources are limited but the relationship between students, teachers, parents and community members is closer.

On January 12, the inclusive training came to an end, as we, the participants, gifted a secret friend of ours with handmade presents who had kindly aided us during the training period. And, as we parted our ways, we took solemn promise to support each other on the conservation awareness and impact initiatives along with continuing our personal efforts to prevent environmental degradation around us. CTC concluded with recognition of the active interaction and participation of volunteers, community members and organization internally and externally to create synergic social impact that is sustainable and can contribute positively to the environmental and community wellbeing.

Heritage site visit
Game related with life skill
Group work
Observing cloud chart