James Mbugua, Sanergy Marketing and Branding Associate.

James Mbugua, Sanergy Marketing and Branding Associate.

When asked for their impressions of Fresh Life, Mukuru residents will tell you our Fresh Life Toilets are very clean. We work hard to keep that brand promise, engaging everyone who comes into contact with Fresh Life – especially our younger customers.

We’re thrilled to announce this week that we have a new partnership in place with WASH United, an award-winning, international social impact organization that combines the power of sports superstars, interactive games and positive communication to excite people about sanitation and practicing good hygiene.

This week we interviewed James Mbugua, Sanergy Marketing and Branding Associate to learn how Sanergy, U-Tena, and WASH United are teaching students about Fresh Life and personal hygiene.

How does Sanergy reach students?

Each school that purchases a Fresh Life Toilet receives an opening day celebration that includes edutainment provided by the youth group U-Tena. The students are always excited to receive a visit from Sanergy and U-Tena’s community health workers. U-Tena is popular in Mukuru for their edutainment. Edutainment can be music, dance, puppetry, or theatre. It dispels myths, promotes healthy behavior, and generates conversation about taboo subjects like HIV and sexual health.

In the Fresh Life drama an actor throws an example of a flying toilet onto the road. The actor says people are not supposed to be doing this. You are supposed to be using a clean toilet. Flying toilets are making our community dirty, and polluting the environment.

U-Tena acting out a drama at Stevens Group of Schools Academy in Mukuru, Nairobi.

U-Tena acting out a drama at Stevens Group of Schools Academy in Mukuru, Nairobi.

After the edutainment we take the students to the Fresh Life Toilet in their school, and teach the students how to use Fresh Life. We also instruct the students in handwashing.

Instructing the students in handwashing.

Instructing the students in handwashing.

How did you first become familiar with U-Tena?

U-Tena was founded by young people from Mukuru, which is where I am from. The guys from U-Tena used to work with HOPE Worldwide in Mukuru, doing traditional dancing to educate people about HIV.

I used to see the U-Tena guys at HOPE Worldwide because before I started at Sanergy, I was a HOPE Worldwide volunteer. I would teach people from the community about HIV and AIDS. I started volunteering when I was still in secondary school and one of my uncles died because of AIDS. It got into my heart that people should be aware of this dangerous disease.

Why is Sanergy working with WASH United?

We are excited to be working with WASH United to reach people through other forms of edutainment. Edutainment doesn’t have to be a drama. It can be a game that you don’t just play to enjoy and pass time, but to pass a message to someone. You can do it in music, by coming up with a song that has a message.

On Earth Day, the WASH United and Sanergy teams taught the students how to play World Toilet Cup. The students practiced aiming by attempting to kick a ball through two round holes in a banner. We played hot potato with a soccer ball covered in blue chalk to show the students how dirty our hands can be, and how we transfer germs to each other. When a student touched the ball, their hands turned blue. Soon, everyone who was playing the game had blue chalk on their hands. We then practiced proper handwashing, by washing the blue chalk off with soap, water, and towels. It was fun to see how seriously the students took the handwashing.

Students washing blue chalk off of their hands.

Students washing blue chalk off of their hands.

The WASH United team also brought their mascot costumes, Handy and Soapy to our Earth Day Celebration. I got dressed up as Handy, and danced with the students. It was a big, fun, educational day.

Handy and Soapy dancing with the students.

Handy and Soapy dancing with the students.

 I am excited about our new partnership with WASH United. The NGO will be sharing their poster designs and games with Sanergy, including World Toilet Cup and Musical Toilets. We intend to display the posters in the community, and play the games at our events. WASH United will benefit from the data and stories we collect about the impact our work has on the community.

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