Spotlight: Dominic Mushashu
After an exhausting 10-hour drive from the Akros offices in Lusaka, two students from Montana State University, the Akros Surveillance Officer, Sanford Cheelo, our driver, Jackson Zulu and I arrived in Chinsali, Muchinga Province. Almost immediately we were greeted by the friendly face and warm handshake of Dominic Mushashu. Aside from working for the Zambia Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) as an Environmental Engineer, he is married with a 3-month-old child, and he works extremely hard to make the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) program possible in Chinsali.
“The environment is dear to me,” he says with a radiant smile. This is what initially led him to volunteering with Akros as a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Focal Point Person. Although he wasn’t aware of the time and energy commitment such a job would entail, he enjoys this work because he is eager to make a difference in his community; he welcomes any challenge with open arms.
Mushashu enjoys working on CLTS because he thinks it is a great way to take care of people on a hygienic level. When I asked him about his opinion on Akros, he said he thinks they are doing a commendable job. He is aware of how much assistance his community needs, and he is very appreciative of the hard work people involved with this CLTS program do. He says his community needs much support from outside organisations.
Mr. Mushashu said he has difficulty getting people to listen because they always ask him, “what is my benefit, what am I going to get from it?” There are a lot of challenges with moving CLTS forward in Chinsali district, according to Mr. Mushashu, including the difficulty letting go of old habits, understanding the benefits of CLTS, and a lack of supplies to build latrines. Several organizations have tried to help with these issues, but rather than trying to have the community make improvements themselves, they will come in, give “handouts,” find short-term solutions, and then leave. However genuine the intentions, this isn’t sustainable and according to Mr. Mushashu, the people in the district have become too used to these handouts.
In the first quarter Mr. Mushashu helped train community champions in CLTS and now, and in the second quarter, the plan is to drill taps in different areas of Chinsali. He is one of the most dedicated government officials in the CLTS program.
After just a few short days I felt like I had not only made professional connections, but I left with a friend as well. It is always so heartwarming to meet someone who is so passionate about bettering his or her community. Although they are not often recognized for their hard work and contributions, it is people like Mr. Mushashu who make this program possible.
About Hannah Kramer
Hannah Kramer is a Community Health major at Montana State University. She plans to pursue work in the public health field upon graduation in 2016, and shortly after earn her Masters of Public Health.