United Kingdom

Uganda Network

Society and Culture

"Children have the right to enjoy their own culture, progress and practice their own religion and use their own language"

Unite helps young people to look at development, but the process of development is often not understood, especially by young people. This simple story can serve as the basis for discussion among Scouts about some of the elements of development, and how these can be applied to meeting special needs in their own community.

The Story of Ankrah and Opare

It was unusual for Opare to look so sad. I was on my way home from market when 1 met him sitting by the side of the road. 'Hey Opare!' I called out, 'what's wrong?'

Opare began to tell me that he was worried about his younger brother who was sick. 'He is not the only one either', he added. 'Some of my other friends are sick too. The nurse at the clinic said it was from drinking bad water. She said that the people in the village did not bother to use latrines, and this made our water bad. And if they continue to do this, there will be others who will get sick. So 1 am worried, because 1 don't know what to do'.

'Opare, my friend,' I replied, 'you are telling me about the same problem that 1 had in my village just last year. Let me tell you what we did. I think you will find it very interesting.'

'The public health nurse had visited my village and explained to us why we needed to build latrines.'

'She said that our body wastes contained germs. When these germs get into out water, and we drink the water, then the germs make us sick. The only way to prevent this is to build proper latrines, far from our source of drinking water.'

'But no one in our village was interested, neither my friends nor my family, l was really discouraged.'

'I told this story to the other boys in my Troop, as well as to Mr Amissah, our Scout Leader. They were very interested. Mr. Amissah then said that he had been reading a booklet on community development projects which Scouts in other countries were beginning to use. He told us that there were many activities that Scouts could do to improve their villages and towns. And building latrines was certainly one of them. We wanted to go and build a latrine straight away, as we thought we would be doing something important.'

'It was then that Mr. Amissah told us of the difference between our doing things to help people like building latrines for them - and helping them to understand why they should build their own latrines - which is much more important. He said that this was community development. It sounded interesting, so we asked him to tell us more about it. '

'The first thing we had to do was to learn as much as we could about how the body wastes infected water, and how this caused us all to get sick.'

'We visited our community clinic several times. The nurse there told us about all these things. We also learned that properly constructed latrines could make a big difference. But none of us knew what a latrine was made of or how to build one.'

'So we went with Mr. Amissah to the Rural Development Centre where we learned from the government technician what latrines were and how easy they were to make. And we were happy to learn that the technician would help us. But Mr. Amissah again reminded all of us that community development meant much more than just building latrines. '

'We had to encourage our people in our village to learn what we had learned. Mr. Amissah told us that if people did not understand and believe in the purpose of the latrine, then they would probably not use it. We had to have discussions with our parents, our relatives, our friends and especially with the community leaders. That was very important advice.'


'It was not difficult. When people understood the need, the nurse and the community worker helped us to determine how many latrines they needed, and they gave us simple drawings and plans for building them.'

'We learned that a simple latrine can be made of inexpensive local materials - such as bamboo or timber, sand and perhaps cement - and hard work. The cost of the latrine was really very little compared with the cost and unhappiness of being sick.'

'The villagers were impressed with the interest which we Scouts had shown in them, and because we had brought the nurse and the community worker to meet with them. The rest was easy.'

'We then decided where to build the latrines. Our village leaders purchased the cement and timber. We were asked to help in preparing the sand and gravel, and the construction sites. And we also helped build the latrines.'

'When they were completed, we were really proud. We were also proud of the way our families and the other people in our community worked with us to complete the job. It did not matter to us that people did not call it a Scout project. We were pleased that they saw it as their own project.'

'Everyone agreed that as they had put in a lot of work for the latrines, they were going to use them. They did use them, Opare, and I are sure they will continue to.'

'Ankrah,' Opare replied, 'thank you. You have given me some excellent ideas. I am going to talk to my father and to my uncles, and ask them to invite you and Mr. Amissah to visit us in our village so that you can explain what Scouts can do -just as you have told me.'

Story by David Dichter.


Contact the Uganda Network Copyright © The UK Uganda Network - 2002
Last modified 6 January 2004


http://www.esperanza2006.org" - supporting the education of children in Africa

[site information][search the site][home][site index][up]
home/resources/scouts/Society and Culture