By Dan Lewis
2.5 Billion people currently do not have access to safe toilets. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program focuses on the development of tools and technologies that can lead to sustainable and marked improvements in sanitation in the developing world. Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, has been selected to join the 2014 “Reinvent The Toilet Fair: India” to showcase critical health messages as part of its Cleaner, Healthier, Happier campaign designed to reach children and families across Bangladesh, India and Nigeria.
Along with the Workshop’s delegation at the fair, Sesame’s newest member of its Muppet family, Raya, a 6-year-old, fuzzy, aqua-green girl, was introduced to the world for the first time. Brian Arbogast, Director of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sat down for a chat with our new friend, Raya.
Brian: Raya, it is so nice to meet you. Can you tell me why you are in India today?
Raya: Thank you. It’s nice to meet you too. Everyone loves a fair, Mr. Brian! You say the word ‘fair’ and I’ll get there as fast as my sandals will carry me.
Brian: I noticed that you wear your sandals everywhere. Do you know why that’s important?
Raya: Of course I do, Mr. Brian! I know lots of things. I make sure to wear my sandals everywhere—especially to the latrine. Wearing my sandals helps protect me so I can stay clean and healthy.
Brian: That’s very smart, Raya.
Raya: Well, thank you. Do you want to know what else I know? I know that it is also really important to wash my hands with soap every time I use the latrine. Clean hands means healthy Raya. Healthy Raya means happy Raya. There’s nothing better than being clean, healthy and happy!
Brian: You know a lot about being healthy, Raya! It’s hard to believe you are only six years old.
Raya: Well, thank you, Mr. Brian. You’re really nice! It’s hard to believe you aren’t furry or feathered.
Brian: Thanks, Raya. That’s the nicest thing I’ve heard in a while. And thank you so much for chatting with me today.
Raya: It’s my pleasure–very nice to talking with you too. I have to go now. Time to wash-up for dinner. See you soon. Bye!
This blog post originally ran at ImpatientOptimists.org