Global WASH Up! Ambassador and Sesame Muppet Raya felicitates young champions of the “Raho Swachh, Jiyo Mast” Campaign in Kolkata

Galli Galli Sim Sim (GGSS), the popular children’s educational programme, today felicitated over 100 children and community volunteers as part of its “Raho Swachh, Jiyo Mast” campaign, which was undertaken in the Jorasankho and Narkaldenga areas of Kolkata. Excited children met Raya, the six-year-old Muppet who is also Sesame Workshop’s global ambassador of WASH Up! (Water, Sanitation and Health) – the non-profit’s first global health initiative.

Raho Swacch, Jiyo Mast” (an Indian adaptation of ‘Cleaner, Healthier, Happier’ – a multi-country campaign) is part of a global health initiative WASH Up! that aims to reduce the mortality rate of children under five years of age, who are susceptible to preventable and treatable diseases, by providing access to sanitation and hygiene education. The project in India has been generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through PSAs, locally produced live action and studio segments, as well as books, games, and other print materials.

According to 2011 census report 1 , around 53.1% households do not have any toilet while 49.8% practice open defecation. 41.2% households in West Bengal do not have any toilet while 38.6% practice open defecation. In Kolkata 5.1% of households do not have access to latrine at home while almost 1% practices open defecation causing diseases like diarrhea, which has claimed the lives of many children in Kolkata’s slums. Diarrhea, the second leading cause of death among children under five globally, is the primary cause of early childhood mortality in India: with 200,000 diarrhea deaths in India every year. Other water related diseases, such as typhoid, cholera and jaundice, also contribute to high child mortality2.

The “Raho Swachh, Jiyo Mast” campaign’s intervention in Kolkata focused on improving sanitation related behaviour among young children, their caregivers and their communities. The campaign will be further rolled out at scale to cover over 50,000 children and their families from April 2015. Qualcomm Incorporated, through its Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ initiative has supported the campaign for development of digital games on the theme of WASH. The programme is supported on ground through Children International.

“Good sanitation behaviour is critically important to address if we want to have an impact on child survival in India. Galli Galli Sim Sim has been promoting healthy habits for life through our various programmes in India and we believe that children can indeed be agents of change”, said Sashwati Banerjee, Managing Director, Sesame Workshop in India.

The programme had multiple innovative components, including a mobile community-viewing platform that used a repurposed vegetable cart with a television and DVD that showcased messages on good sanitation behaviour. This was followed by fun activities with children and the caregivers like teaching them to make ‘soapy threads’ (little garlands made out of old soap and thread which they could carry to the toilet) and playing digital games on tablets that reinforced the messages.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Ramdas Pai, Regional Director, Children International quoted: “We are delighted to be facilitating the ‘Raho Swachh, Jiyo Mast’ campaign which has impacted the lives of children and the community in a positive way- leading to the practice of a cleaner, healthier and happier lifestyle.”

And the stories of change have been incredible: Hadiya Amzad, a 6 year old child, said “Raya has been incredibly influential in my life in several ways. Previously, I did not wear slippers to the toilet, but then I learnt from Raya and Elmo that germs are present everywhere and wearing slippers to the toilet is important in order to stay healthy and germ free. So, I asked my parents to buy me slippers.”

Another child, Zarin Arshad, who is 5 years old watched the “tippy tap” segment during one of the Mobile Community Viewing sessions, and was inspired to build his very own tippy tap, a portable water dispensing device. He used an empty plastic bottle and some old rope to build the tippy tap and hung it outside his community toilet. He innovated on the design further and tied soap with the tippy tap. He says that now no one in his family forgets to use soap to wash hands after using the toilet.

Kiran Jha, a parent in the community, saw the excitement around the ‘Raho Swachh Jiyo Mast’ campaign and one day decided to follow the children to the activity workshop. There she saw children were learning to make ‘soapy threads’. She used this opportunity and started making soapy threads at home and supplying them to all members in her community. Today, her soapy threads are selling like hot cakes!

The event reiterated Galli Galli Sim Sim’s long-term commitment and active involvement towards promoting positive behaviour change related to sanitation and hygiene in children and their caregivers.


NOTE TO EDITORS:

About Sesame Workshop in India:
Sesame Workshop in India, the organization behind Galli Galli Sim Sim, uses the power of the media to help children reach their highest potential. We develop and distribute high quality and engaging content through television, radio, community radio, print, digital and outreach, to reach children aged 0 – 8. Our content aims to facilitate young Indian children’s basic academic and life skills, while celebrating India’s rich cultural diversity, in order to promote their overall cognitive, socio-emotional and physical development. Galli Galli Sim Sim, the television series, has been watched by 80 million children since its debut in 2006 till 20113 and currently reaches approximately 18 million children per year in partnership with Pogo and national public broadcaster – Doordarshan. Galli Galli Sim Sim’s educational messages are extended through a radio programme aired on community radio stations, extensive community outreach, and applications on new and emerging media such as cell phones and internet. We use a combination of print and audio-visual media for training and awareness about early childhood education to parents, teachers and caregivers. For more information on all log on to www.sesameworkshopindia.org.

Sesame Workshop India is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sesame Workshop New York, the non-profit educational organization that revolutionized children’s television programming with the landmark Sesame Street. Learn more at www.sesameworkshop.org.

About Children International:
Children International prepares children and youth to escape the traps of poverty by supporting their critical needs, building resilience and engaging them in transformative activities. Children International accomplishes this by providing crucial benefits and compassionate care through easily accessible, modern community centers. Children International’s presence, programmes and supporters have a positive impact on children, youth, families and communities; provide protection; encourage self-sufficiency; and serve as catalysts for change.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Meghna Dutta- Manager PR & Communications
Sesame Workshop India
Email- meghna.dutta@sesame.org
Phone- +91 9588774001

Citations:
1:Percentage of Households to Total Households by Amenities and Assets, India Census 2011 (http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011census/hlo/Houselisting-housing-PCA.html)
2:Percentage of Households to Total Households by Amenities and Assets, India Census 2011 (http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011census/hlo/Houselisting-housing-PCA.html)
3:Turner-KPMG Report, Season 1-5