Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Clowns Without Borders UK is sharing laughter and supporting vital Covid-19 messaging to support Rohingya children in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Laughter rings out across the airwaves. It's from a group of Hygiene Promotion staff. They are warming up for their Train the Trainer workshops in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. This is just the beginning of the joyful activities that will unfold but there is also a serious purpose. The stories, games and songs that are being shared contain important messages about Covid-19 prevention. They have been created to grab the attention of children.
The need to engage and communicate effectively with children has never been more necessary. There are half a million Rohingya children living in the refugee camps across Cox Bazar in Bangladesh. Being in the world’s largest refugee settlement is a cramped and overcrowded experience. An average of 40,000 people living on every square kilometer. This is not an easy place to isolate in during COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the key ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 is frequent hand-washing. Supporting and encouraging children to do this is really important. That's why Clowns Without Borders UK has adapted their “Make WASH Fun” Train the Trainer programme. This supports Hygiene Professionals to share Covid-19 prevention messaging in playful, age-appropriate ways. Children have to wait in line to collect water. This is a perfect moment to get their attention.
Edward Morgan, who is coordinating the project for Clowns Without Borders UK, said
“Waiting in line is boring. Creating activities children can join in safely with, is a way to ease this. The fact the games are about hand washing is even better".
Encouraging children to share the activities with their families means messages can reach even more people. It is a way to share more joy. At this challenging time, both things are important. It’s the best of both worlds.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Over a million Rohingya people have fled violence in Myanmar since the early 1990s. In late August 2017, extreme violence broke out again in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. It forced 742,000 Rohingya people to flee to Bangladesh. Many are now housed in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Clowns Without Borders UK has been sharing joyful performances, workshops with Rohingya children since January 2018.
Invited by Oxfam and UNICEF they developed an innovative programme to support hand-washing and hygiene amongst children (WASH).
PUTTING CHILDREN AT THE HEART
It's important children are at the centre of things that affect them. Clowns Without Borders UK worked with Rohingya children to co-design the WASH project. Over a 7-month period, we developed songs, stories and games to support behaviour change (hand washing) and help prevent the spread of disease. We trained over 70 Hygiene Promotion in this approach.
UNICEF has implemented our approach to working with children on WASH themes across all their camps in Cox’s Bazar.