Maji Safi Group’s Educational Model Needed in Our Own Backyard

Emily BullOriginally from San Antonio, Texas, Emily Bull received a double BA in Psychology and Religious Studies from Austin College in Sherman, TX. She has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in International Social Economic Development from Washington University in St. Louis. Emily has worked with Maji Safi Group for nearly two years as the US Director of Operations and Development and was recently appointed President of the organization. Emily has specialized skills in participatory development (international and domestic), strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation of programs, and international sustainable community development. Below, Emily writes about expanding the Maji Safi Group curriculum to the states. 

The Maji Safi Group team in St. Louis is working hard to expand its outreach and provide awareness about water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and our programs in Tanzania. Maria, our past MSW practicum student, connected us with North Greene Jr. and Sr. High School in Whitehall, IL, a rural community located in Greene County, about an hour and a half from St. Louis. Max, Maria and I were invited to present WASH education to the students.

Emily, Max, and Maria enjoying lunch at North Greene.

Emily, Max, and Maria enjoying lunch at North Greene.

Emily teaching 7th graders how to properly wash their hands.

Emily teaching 7th graders how to properly wash their hands.

Greene County is particularly in need of WASH education, because many of their students come from homes that have dirt floors, contaminated water pipes, and/or no running water. Therefore, they are not living in sanitary conditions, get sick from their water source, and often times do not have water for washing their clothes or bathing.

Maria explaining where Tanzania is and what Maji Safi Group does in Shirati.

Maria explaining where Tanzania is and what Maji Safi Group does in Shirati.

After spending four years of my young adult life working in rural communities in East Africa, parts of Asia, and Central America, I can honestly say that it is easy to overlook the rural issues in America. In developing countries, rural communities are the norm, and therefore, more outwardly prevalent. According to World Urbanization Prospects, 73.6% of Tanzanians live in a rural community as compared to 17.1% in the United States. Seeing how the conditions in Greene County are similar to those in Tanzania, such as contaminated water sources and lack or resources for maintaining personal hygiene, made our team realize that Maji Safi Group’s education and model are much needed and can be used in our own backyard.

Maria teaching a high school class about the proper times to wash your hands.

Maria teaching a high school class about the proper times to wash your hands.

 

On November 20th, we taught over 200 students, ages 12-18. The students learned about the importance of washing hands, how to properly boil and filter their water, and about the global issues community members face in Shirati. Since residents in Greene County were currently under Boil Order, meaning that water in their area must be boiled due to flooding and contaminated pipes, the education was extremely needed and received with enthusiasm.

Max demonstrating how germs spread with an 8th grade class.

Max demonstrating how germs spread with an 8th grade class.

 

 

I am happy to say that we have established a great partnership with North Greene Jr. and Sr. High School and will teach their students at least once a semester. We are also in conversation to start teaching the elementary school kids.

 

 


“I appreciate you three coming here so much! I thought it went great, and the students were very engaged, which is tough to do sometimes! The Jr. High was extremely thankful as well.” – Sarah Coultas, North Greene Health Teacher

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