Celebration of Population, Health and Environment (PHE) Day By a School in Holeta Town

frontpagepicAn event to celebrate the Population, Health and Environment (PHE) day and integration of the PHE activities has been organized, on the 28th of June 2011, at Goro Kerensa Primary and Junior Secondary School. The school is one of the model schools selected to implement the PHE activities in Holeta Town.

It is to be recalled that MELCA-Ethiopia has launched its second PHE program in its Suba-Sebeta project area on May 14, 2011. And it was declared during this launching program that five model schools and one rural peasant association were selected as the centers for implementation of the program.

The model schools selected for implementation of the program are supposed to be engaged in the program by way of forming a PHE club in which students participating in SEGNI, Health (Anti HIV/AIDS), and Family Planning (population) clubs come together and integrate the activities in their respective clubs. So coordinated, members of these clubs would work toward raising the awareness of the school and wider community with regard to family planning, personal hygiene and sanitation as well as protection of the environment. They also disseminate information regarding the interrelationship and interconnection among these three social issues: Population, Health and Environment, which should be given due regard and proper handling for better living.

Mini-media materials, which include tape recorder with two players and CD/DVD players in one, megaphone amplifier and sound recorder have been provided to each of the model schools selected for implementation of the program with the intention of enhancing the ability of the students engaged in the awareness raising activities and strengthening mini-media service of the school.

 After having been engaged in the PHE activities for some time since the second half of May 2011, the students and teachers of Goro Kerensa primary and junior secondary school in Holeta Town, has organized an event to celebrate a PHE day and present their activities and achievements in the past few weeks.

 Ato Dereje Gudisa, Vice Head of Holeta Town Administration Education Office, opened the event of the celebration held in the school compound. In his opening speech Ato Dereje mentioned the value of such extracurricular activities to inculcate the subject matter of current topical issues such as population, health and environment in the students as well as in the wider community. He has also thanked MELCA-Ethiopia for introducing such an integrative and educative program in the schools and the Austrian Development Cooperation for funding the program.

The various PHE activities carried out since the commencement of the program and the achievements attained have been reported by teachers in charge of leading each of the activities. The reports include activities done and achievements attained with regard to family planning, activities done by the mini-media club and the overall PHE related activities and achievements.

Variety of shows including songs, poems and dramas which focus on the subject matter of population, health and environment have also been presented by club member students of the school.

Among the shows presented by the students is a drama with a theme of the importance of using family planning to have a healthy and happy family. In the drama, there is a poor family but with many children and, as a result, lives a miserable life and on the other side there is a healthy and happy family that uses family planning and, as a result, has few children. Ultimately the unhappy family with many children realizes that the misery of the family is mainly the consequence of having too many children when they have no enough income to feed and educate them and in fact the parents regret their ignorance of family planning and promise not to live in the same manner in the future.

On the celebration there was also a live interview with a poor mother of seven children, named W/ro Werkinesh Alemu. “I make a homemade alcohol called ‘araki’ and my husband is a daily laborer. I gave birth to seven children because I did not know about family planning. Now we can hardly feed the children with the very small income we get let alone send them to school. Some time in the past I told my problem to the director of this school and he allowed accepting two of my children with out school fee. So the rest are not attending any schooling. Now that I learned about using birth control I am ready to make use of it hereafter, though it seems late. But I tell my experience so that others learn from me and use family planning” W/ro Werkinesh said.

After Werkinesh shared her life experiences and problems to the participants of the event, the board of Goro Kerensa Primary and Junior Secondary School allowed scholarship for remaining five children beginning from the next new academic year.

The celebration also includes a traditional coffee ceremony on which student Bezawit Girma has presented a pictorial description of the PHE activities.

Mr. Heinz Habertheuer, who is the head of Austrian Development Cooperation in Ethiopia (funder of the program) and who participated on the program to see its progress, has commented that he is very impressed by what he has seen at the event. He said it is very impressive that the teachers and students have come up with such an educative and entertaining shows in such a short period of time. It shows their commitment and active engagement in implementation of the program and the fact that there is an excellent participatory approach in the implementation process. He added that the event has been well prepared to show the consequences of environmental degradation and not giving due consideration for family planning.

Mr. Heinz has also visited the Participatory 3 Dimensional Model (P3DM) of Suba-Sebeta area, which includes the Wechecha complex, which was built two years back through the facilitation of MELCA, and appreciated the experience.

MELCA’s PHE Project

Efforts toward sustainable development, poverty reduction, and improved livelihoods, especially in developing countries like Ethiopia, are requiring integration of issues in the areas of population, health and environment.