Voices from Young Professionals in WASH

Voices from Young Professionals in WASH

Along with FLUSH,  our rapporteurs helped produce two rich and dynamic FSM6 reports. You can view the FSM6 Highlights Report at FSM6.org. The full conference report will be available for FSMA Members. To access more member benefits, register to be a member here.

Meet Beauty Banda and Dr. Mehjabin Tishan Mahfuz- two young professionals in WASH who were rapporteurs at FSM6. 

Beauty Banda 

As a young professional in the field of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH), I found the FSM6 conference to be very insightful. Themes for track sessions covered a lot of interesting topics ranging from; how gender has transitioned to women in WASH, service delivery for low-income communities, and the private sector role in achieving city-wide inclusive sanitation. My duty as a rapporteur was made more efficient through the availability of additional reference materials; such as abstracts & live discussion forums.  My main focus was capturing key points from track session 3C which had a theme “The Role of Sanitation & FSM Actors.”  High-Impact case studies & Promising Approaches were presented from Africa & Asia. In all 5 presentations, speakers put across the need for the effective engagement of all relevant stakeholders in achieving safe urban sanitation.

Some of the wonderful opportunities I had experienced during and after the conference were the meaningful networking exchanges I had made with my mentors in the field of WASH and with my rapporteur team. The team was composed of young vibrant individuals coming from across 4 different continents. I was amazed to see a team of young WASH professionals contributing their skills & expertise towards achieving better sanitation. FSM6 was a well-organized virtual event with an outstanding cross-cultural mix of participants. I am looking forward to attending FSM7.

Dr. Mehjabin Tishan Mahfuz

My name is Dr. Mehjabin Tishan Mahfuz. I work at icddr,b, a research organization located in Bangladesh. I started my professional life as a medical doctor, but was drawn to public health sector as it allowed me to have variety of exposures and constantly changing information based on new and revised evidence. I have had experience working with maternal and child health, nutrition, and more recently, on environmental health. My working group is divided into several research groups, among which sanitation is one of them. Though I am not part of that particular group, I had the opportunity to have some preliminary knowledge by doing some extra work for a colleague who is working with sanitation. I have never really worked at fecal sludge management project or waste management in general. The same colleague, who had exposed me to his project on sanitation, also suggested, that with my English skills that I should participate in the FSM6 as a rapporteur. I am glad he suggested and I applied. Not only did I learn about the vast world of FSM but also had the chance to personally speak to several talented individuals working dedicatedly to improve the toilet conditions of Africa, Asia, and other parts of the work that has immense impact on the health and livelihood of many of the deprived and discriminated people of the world.

I was given the opportunity to summarize the Emptying Challenge, where I had to review the videos from participants all over the world. What a refreshing perspective was that! A deep perspective of not only what goes behind the challenges of cleaning toilets, but the personal stories of those who are motivated to continue to do this arduous work are truly inspiring, both professionally and personally. The emptying challenges were an insight into the different methods and equipment that facilitate toilet emptying that can play a significant role in knowledge sharing and improving the current situation globally in all resource-constrained settings. I was also responsible to note the session on the role of women, a topic that is both personally and professionally intriguing. The role of women have traditionally been neglected or overlooked that had led to the slow progress in all fields of public health. It is only in recent years that we have begun to realize the importance of women’s role and its impact on broader public health. The session was interactive and informative, and I was, dare I say mesmerized by the knowledge from plethora of experts from all disciplines.

My supervisors have always complained that I am not serious enough in my career. It is partly rue and certainly by choice. My personal philosophy is to always be a student, because only with the mindset of a student can I view the world of information with curiosity and amazement. The world seems rather restricted as a professional. For me, FSM6 was yet another learning opportunity where I was exposed to a world of knowledge and experiences!

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