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The problem we’ve always had with our star WASH puppet, Mr Poop, is the brown sock. In America, it seems men are as into brown socks as British men are grey and black; but even so, they’re pricey to buy in any kind of bulk.

In Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, South Sudan, Haiti or Sierra Leone – anywhere we’ve had children (and indeed adults) make Poops; well, you can buy them, but they’re relatively expensive. Impossibly so if you want any number of children to make one.
In Kenya, however, with their plastic bag ban enforced, we were in for a fabulous Mr Poop treat.

Children making puppets to learn about germs and the importance of hand washing at the Ndurarua Primary School in the Kawangware slum, Nairobi, Kenya, June 6, 2018. (Will Baxter)

Our team – Becky Richardson from Northumbria University, Dr Helen Basini, our process design consultant, Lisa Buckley, our amazing puppet expert and myself, Rosie Waller, had our driver Godfrey screech to a halt through the early morning Kawangware traffic in Nairobi as market traders were setting up. Having checked online, I knew brown non-woven bags existed, but given the choice of them and bright pink, green and blue ones I was anxious we’d find them. But here was a man selling hundreds! And at the equivalent of 3p each.

Brown non-woven bags aren’t as easy to work with as socks, but we gave them out to our Health Club children at Kabiro Community School and also at Ndurarua Primary, with some needle and thread, card and a few bits and pieces, and they magically transformed brought them to life.

Mr Poop is the star of our new video manual production The Tale of Mr Poop – things are now going to his head. But in fairness, he’s a great way of having kids make the link between germs and disease, telling stories with him and his friends – Flies, Germs – and enemies – Soap, Clean Water, Latrine.

Our thanks to photographer Will Baxter for his beautiful pictures with children at Ndurarua Primary.

A schoolboy with his finished puppet at Ndurarua Primary School (Will Baxter)
Children making puppets at the Ndurarua Primary School in the Kawangware slum, Nairobi, Kenya, June 6, 2018. (Will Baxter)

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