Rashid Salum (YES 2019-2020, Tanzania, placed by AYUSA in Eugene, OR), began his year abroad in the fall of 2019. Although the first part of his year abroad was just like that of any other YES student, he was sent home early in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rashid was not alone in his experience, as everyone has felt the effects of this global pandemic. Although his program year was shorter than previous cohorts, it was not any less impactful.
Feeling inspired by his year abroad to help his community, Rashid led a School Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (SWASH) initiative in the urban neighborhood of Lumumba, Zanzibar. SWASH is an ongoing project founded by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to improve the water conditions in schools in order to promote the education of children and, as a by-product, their families and community.
Rashid gathered four YES alumni and more than 15 volunteers to lead a cleanup march. They partnered with Lumumba Secondary School, Shauri Moyo “A” Primary school, and Shaur Moyo “B” Primary School in Lumumba to not only involve them in the clean-up but also educate them on COVID-19. They began by educating the students about SWASH, and how to protect themselves and one another from communicable diseases such as COVID-19.
They were educated on topics such as personal hygiene, precautions about different diseases, food sanitation, and the importance of hand-washing. After the students were trained in the SWASH values, they began their cleanup efforts. Together, they were able to clean up the areas around schools, on sidewalks and roads, and surrounding hospitals. This service project affected more than 2,500 people, including the students involved, the staff and faculty of the schools, the families of the students, and the surrounding community.
Rashid says that during his YES year abroad in the U.S., his host mom shared with him that diseases can be controlled if there is proper education dispensed, beginning with youth. This heavily inspired his efforts during this project, and he plans to continue spreading the values of SWASH in his future service projects.