‘The happiest people I have ever seen singing about a toilet!’ says the BBC reporter who captured a rare moment of optimism in this traumatized nation.
‘Bawili’s story is quintessentially Congolese. In 1998, her husband was shot when rebels attacked their village. She fled with her children to Tanzania, to spend a decade in an overcrowded refugee camp. In 2008, she was among thousands forcibly repatriated to Congo. It wasn’t yet safe back home, but Tanzania was closing the camps.
The village Bawili and her family were sent to was new – a patch of forest allocated for “returnees”, dislocated strangers from all over Congo. There was no clean water supply, no sanitation, no school and no support.
…. Bawili’s the president of the village Community Health Club, an initiative that trains locals to learn and share skills in hygiene, nutrition and childcare. Simple things that can save lives. She and her fellow club members meet under a tree every Sunday morning, taking turns to talk about their work and how to encourage their neighbours.’
‘Over the past few months, pit latrines have been dug across the village, including at Bawili’s house. The club has composed a jaunty song to teach everyone about hand-washing and hygiene. They start and finish each meeting with a rousing chorus of “Maendeleo! Mbele!”, “Development! Forward!”