Brisa is 17 years old and is in her last year of high school. Her school – Virgen de Copacabana B - is located in the 8th district of El Alto, one of the most populated and poorest areas of the city. In 2016, Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition Project started its intervention in coordination with local authorities. To improve the health of hundreds of students in that area different strategies were transferred to address issues around hygiene and healthy nutrition to teachers and students in 60 schools.
While in school Brisa witnessed many changes within the establishment and the initiatives teachers started thanks to the training provided by Save the Children. When she had to prepare a social development project as part of her graduation curriculum, she knew that she wanted to expand what her professors had already started.
"I started thinking about the girls and boys in my school. To be healthy they need to wash their hands after playing, after using the bathroom or before eating. And they need to know the importance of saving water and taking care of the environment. We are all responsible for our health, but in my school we neither had sinks nor water taps in the bathrooms. Until the primary school teachers put what they learned in Save the Children’s workshops in action and built recycled water taps with plastic bottles. But during winter time, El Alto is so cold that the children didn´t use them. So I decided to build a sink with a water tap and an ecological water heater and a barrel that allows water to be reused for cleaning the toilets".
Brisa’s project works with a pipe system made up of plastic bottles, attached on one side to the water tank of the bathroom and on the other to a tube that has a tap at the end. Below is a plastic sink with a hole that leads into a metallic barrel which collects the water that can be reused. To encourage the use of the sink, she made posters: "hot water courtesy of Mr. Sun", "clean hands save lives" are some of the messages that she put up in her school. To ensure an adequate hand-washing process, she produced recycled soap and towel holders with eye-catching designs that attract children’s attention.
"When we began to use my innovation, children were filled with joy, washing not only their hands but even their heads" says Brisa proudly.
Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition Project, has contributed significantly to changing the lives of children and of teenagers. They now feel responsible for the well-being of their community, and come up with new ideas to bring about positive changes, as Brisa clearly demonstrates: "Now washing your hands at school is a given, and this is very important because clean hands save lives and also help build new horizons"