A model mother

Sahondra plays a vital role in preventing the spread of water-related disease in Madagascar.

Sahondra Lalao, 32, has been teaching other women in Miandrivazo, Madagascar, about the importance of good hygiene. Women like Sahondra, a local mother of three, are vital in preventing the spread of water-related diseases that kill 4,000 children in Madagascar every year.

‘Model mothers’ are community-based hygiene and sanitation promoters. Volunteers are given training in good hygiene behaviour and become advocates for health, visiting others in the community to spread hygiene messages.

Sahondra says:

“We’ve learned about handwashing. We go to households, take soaps and really show people what to do. What we do is first pay them a visit, then set another appointment and ask them what they did during the time that has passed. Some of them say that they have started washing their hands. We ask them to pay a visit to our homes and tell them that their homes should be like this too.

“It is very challenging because people are still living in the past practices. We are trying to get them changed but it’s difficult to leave a past habit.

“I have really seen the change that it has brought to the health of my family. This is why I have been active in educating my friends. Before, the last thing I would do would be to clean my home; now it’s the first thing I do. I think that my house is different to most of this community – I show this to them so they can feel the difference and see the change.

“Even my husband has changed!”