Conclusion of Proshyan School Water Project – Armenia

This project has been completed under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteer, Susan Spano.

To read about the beginning of the project, CLICK HERE.

We would like to thank Susan Spano once again for executing such a fine project.

The following is a conclusion report from Susan Spano:

With the grant approved, the funds showed up in my account about the time school started in September—always a big event in Armenia.

Once things calmed down, our principal Samvel, my teaching counterpart Heghine, and I went shopping at a local hardware store where they knew the staff and apparently got a good discount. First we priced everything we needed; some things had to be ordered. I made repeated visits to my ATM to get the money to pay. Then I waited.

One day about two weeks later I saw rows of plastic tanks in the hall at school. Delivery of material had begun, but not the work. Again I waited.  Throughout October and November I kept asking when the tanks would be installed. Soon, Samvel said. The master can only work on weekends.

I never met the master, but by the end of November I saw tanks propped just beneath the ceilings in our bathrooms. As it’s turned out, the tanks not only provide running water to the sinks but they have made the toilets flush-able, a major fringe benefit for this project. Now our bathrooms are much cleaner and not as smelly as before.

Around the first of December, I realized that it was time to start planning our Hygiene Workshops, aimed at teaching the importance of hand-washing and celebrating the advent of running water in our bathrooms. My English teacher counterparts helped, as did the school staff. The plan was as follows:

Day One: 5th and 6th forms in the computer lab where the kids saw a PowerPoint and some excellent videos.  My favorite, called the sneeze, is linked at the left.

They made posters about hand-washing for a contest. First-place winners will get a box of markers; their pictures will be mounted on walls near the bathrooms.

Then there was a demonstration using Glo Germ, a lotion I ordered from the U.S. that shows germs on hands under an ultraviolet light (not so easy to come by in Armenia). I had three students from the 8th form do the demonstration; the kids were captivated.

Later that day I was pleased to see some 5th form boys barging out of the bathroom after having washed and dried their hands.

Day Two: Peace Corp Armenia’s medical officer Dr. Naira Gharakhanyan gave a PowerPoint presentation to 7th, 8th and 9th form kids. They asked lots of questions and stayed quiet, testifying to their interest. We saw more videos about germs and hand-washing, then did the Glo Germ demonstration.

Day Three: We capped things off by inviting Leigh Carter, the wife of the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, to come to Proshyan School to read about hand-washing to 3rd and 4th forms. I found a number of suitable books, including Wash Your Hands, by Tony Ross.

The kids sang a wash-your-hands song (to the tune of Row, Row, Row your Boat) and did some coloring on the germ and hand-washing theme.

Now some 150 children in Ashtarak, Armenia, know how washing your hands helps control germs and illness. We have running water, not to mention soap dispensers, electric hand dryers and flushable toilets!

We are grateful to Susan for completing this project.