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Health Promoters honored by the Water Envoy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Henk Ovink

The Health Promoters honored by Henk Ovink, Dutch special envoy for the United Nations and the first water ambassador of the Netherlands during the official kick-off of the Health Promoters Educational Theater took place on 3 November 2019 in the Scheepvaart Museum in Amsterdam during the opening of the Amsterdam International Water Week.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In Africa there is a rich tradition of storytelling, often including singing and dancing. This inspired the theatre group Bambisanani (meaning:  Let’s work together) to create the educational play Water4Life. In this short performance the importance of clean drinking water for personal hygiene and health is made clear.

A quarter of the South African population – some five million people – are unemployed and poor. Many of them live in areas where clean drinking water and sanitation facilities are unavailable or inaccessible. This poses an acute health problem for these groups. This is also the case in many other African countries.

For more than 10 years the South African/ Dutch non-profit organization Health Promotion South Africa Trust (HPSA) has been offering free health and hygiene education in vulnerable communities in and around Cape Town that have few facilities. The results are excellent: participants are queueing up to follow the courses, are positive about what they have learned, put what they have learned into practice and pass on the lifesaving information to future generations.

However, knowledge of health and hygiene is not enough. Health can only be achieved if clean drinking water and good sanitary facilities are available.

The Health Promoters have thought about an effective way to bring this subject to the attention of the local population. Traditionally, information in Africa is mainly shared by storytelling. Therefore, a play about water, sanitation and hygiene was chosen.

Cooperation between the Health Promoters, World Waternet, Amsterdam International WaterWeek and Nijhuis Industries made it possible to invite the theatre company to the Netherlands to draw attention to this urgent problem

Water 4 Life
The educational play is called Water 4 Life. The story emphasises how many diseases and deaths are caused by dirty water and inadequate sanitation and how behavioral change can save lives. It comprises themes such as keeping clean water clean, turning dirty water into safe drinking water, saving water, reuse of water and the importance of clean sanitation and other hygiene aspects. The show includes music, dance and humor.

I am proud of the Health Promoters who continue to work because this problem can be overcome.

Every year thousands of people die, especially children, from diseases that could easily have been prevented by good basic hygiene.

The Health Promoters provide hygiene and health information – now including mental health – to local communities in townships in South Africa and beyond. Every year, more than 20,000 people, mostly women, are trained as Health Promoters.

Finally, how wonderful that this unique organization was recognized in 2016 by former President Barack Obama of the United States and that they have been affiliated with the United Nations since May this year.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present you, the Health Promoters Educational Theater

Attached pictures can be used copyright free.
Photo: Collins Tabot

Mr. Henk Ovink during his presentation
Mr. Henk Ovink together with our CEO, Mr. George Arrey, and co-Founder of HPSA, dr. h.c. Harold E. Robles