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Published on: 28/11/2016

As I sit behind a child of about 10 years old who is flying for the first time, I’m reminded of the awe and amazement that comes with something new. “This is awesome”, he says. What a great sense of excitement to experience something for the first time. In the WASH sector, we get bogged down by hearing the same old things meeting after meeting, conference after conference, and the same speakers over and over again. I often forget how excited I was my first time visiting a water project or the first time I saw women building rainwater harvesting tanks. I often miss that “little kid” excitement. Caught up in day to day emails and conference calls we can forget how passionate we used to be about the work we do.

At first the boy in front of me was nervous, asking lots of questions, “how fast will the plane go, I don’t want to go fast”, but the minute the plane took off his nervousness seemed to fly out the window and it turned into happiness. My “little kid” excitement was sparked once again at the UNC Water and Health Conference this year, when I participated in a session on WASH away from home.

Marielle Snel presenting the session on WASH away from the home at UNC (photo: Bryony Stentiford)

In the past I worked on WASH in schools and in health care facilities. But this session was different. It covered eight different situations that are often neglected: schools, health care facilities, the workplace, orphanages, prisons, refugee camps, mass gatherings and temporary use settings. While in the session I thought about Sustainable Development Goal 6 and how neglectful we are being each time we focus on the household, the school or clinic. We need to consider everyone in all situations, not just those that are easiest to reach. So as I go back to my work on the Agenda for Change, trying to get everyone, everywhere water and sanitation services forever, I will remember the prisoner, pregnant mother, the teacher, the student, the refugee, the orphan, the seller at the market and all other people who deserve water and sanitation. I will also remember the little boy on the airplane who reminded me about how the little things we often overlook can be exciting, new and deserve attention.  


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