Children's WASH Forum and the Water-For-Life Conference in Tajikistan
Hayden Little is a member of the 2014-2015 High School National Council. This June, I had the opportunity to attend the Children’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Forum and the High-Level Conference “Water-For-Life” that took place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan as a youth delegate from the United States of America. This trip holds a special place in my heart, not only for the incredible insights I took out of the conference, but also because of the invaluable friendships that I made with the people of Tajikistan and the other countries involved.
The trip was organized into two very different segments, the first of which being the Children’s WASH Forum. The goal of this forum was to draft a Call-To-Action document intended to give the youth of the world a voice in regard to international WASH. The document was supposed to give the world’s leaders a “challenge” to improve access to adequate WASH, while at the same time allowing the world to see WASH from the perspective of children, adolescents, and young adults. The Children’s WASH Forum was three days long and consisted of several sessions. The participants were split up into four different groups consisting of WASH in Schools, WASH in Communities, WASH in the Home, and WASH in Disasters. At the end of the conference, we each took our individual ideas from our specifications and incorporated them into the Call-To-Action document.
The High-Level Conference “Water-For-Life” began the day after the Children’s WASH Forum. It was not specific to children, but instead was a meeting in which the world’s leaders came together to discuss their individual steps taken to improve WASH in their respective countries. The youth delegates had the privilege to attend the opening ceremony of the conference, and attend some of the sessions that took place. Some of the time during the conference we went on excursions to learn more about the culture and history of Tajikistan.
This was just a snapshot of the experience, but trust me when I tell you there was much, much more! This was my first time leaving the United States, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Pictured above: Hayden Little and Lucy Kneissler in Tajikistan for Children's WASH Forum Copyright UNICEF USA