Meet Brian Hivan Ogang: Lifeline’s WASH Sanitation Officer

By: Brian Cartwright

All of our work here at Lifeline is made possible by the incredible passion and drive of our team. We’re proud to introduce you to the talented individuals who power our work and mission.

“I would wish to see a world where there is no death due to preventable illnesses, because when you look at some of these common diseases or illnesses, it does not take much for us to prevent them. Everyone can do it. Handwashing is so easy; everybody can wash their hands.” ~ Brian Hivan Ogang

Could you give a brief overview of your position and what some of your daily tasks and general assignments are?

My position is sanitation officer and this role involves assessing, implementing, and monitoring hygiene and sanitation in our project areas in accordance with Lifeline WASH standards and procedures. My daily tasks as a whole include supporting WASH projects and leading compliance to all sanitation and hygiene standards. Additionally, I develop sanitation and hygiene manuals and other materials; for example, I recently completed manuals for water user communities.

We participate in selecting beneficiary communities for WASH programs. In collaboration with the team, I assist with collecting data in selected communities and completing needs assessments, which involves trying to assess the status in the community with regards to water access and sanitation in general.

Finally, I facilitate the instruction of user trainings in relation to water, sanitation, and hygiene and develop monitoring and evaluation surveys.

What initially made you interested in doing public health and WASH work? Was there a “moment of realization” or experience you had that pushed you towards a career in WASH?

I found early on that I had a passion for helping others and I ended up volunteering within my own community on a Village Health Team. In this position, I was helping communities to make decisions that would affect their health. This experience motivated me, and I went on to receive a diploma in Secondary Education. I realized that Education restricted me to only working with students and I was interested in engaging and working with the wider communities. I wanted my passion and work to reach more people than just the students that were in class. This pushed me to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in public health where I received a good scholarship. Now, I have applied to a Master’s degree program in public health at Lira University.

WASH Officers Brian and Paska broadcast messages via Radio Divine to help Apac residents maintain good health and hygiene in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

What is it about your role with Lifeline that motivates and excites you to go to work every day?

What motivates me is learning new things, this is why I love being on the Lifeline team. We come up with different ideas and different ways of tackling these challenges and how to handle them. We all work together to polish our ideas and work them into a final plan of action. Being open to what others say and the exciting ways that others think keeps me compelled to work every day.

Is there something specific about the overall mission and goals of Lifeline that drew you to pursue a position with this organization?

When I joined Lifeline, what pulled me was the mission of helping communities to thrive, not to simply survive. The overall mission, as well, to develop long term solutions to communities’ most pressing environmental and economic problems. I also like the slogan of “old problems require a new way of thinking.” In general, the mission fits my career goals since I enjoy being innovative and creative.

What has been your favorite aspect of being a sanitation officer at Lifeline? In other words, is there a specific aspect of your job that makes you feel the most accomplished at the end of a long day?

On a daily basis when I complete my tasks successfully, when I feel recognized, and feel that I am on the right track, this makes me feel accomplished. When I receive positive feedback from my team members and supervisors, it makes me feel good at the end of the day.

On the long-term basis what makes me feel accomplished is when I get to work within the communities to help them identify and solve their problems based on what community members know, what they think, what they believe, and what they do.

Within the public health and WASH sectors, is there a dream scenario or an end goal you are hoping to achieve? In other words, what are some of your goals or ambitions within this field?

I love and have a passion for WASH; I intend to pursue a master’s degree in water and sanitation in the future so I can be able to influence policy and advocate for increased access to water and sanitation. I also intend one day to open a consultancy firm dedicated to water and sanitation.

During a regular day, is there something that brings you a sense of joy?

I have an 8-month-old daughter and sometimes when she tries to say daddy instead, she says “dada.” Every time I remind myself of this it makes me smile and brings me a lot of joy.

If a genie gave you three wishes, what would you wish for and why?

My first wish would be for good health for more than 70 years, because I value health as a resource for everyday life.

Next, I would wish to see a world where there is no death due to preventable illnesses, because when you look at some of these common diseases or illnesses, it does not take much for us to prevent them. Everyone can do it. Handwashing is so easy; everybody can wash their hands.

Finally, I would wish for water, sanitation, and hygiene to be included in education for the [younger] classes i.e. elementary level. Because during childhood, at that young age they are very receptive to learning. With my experience in this field I have witnessed young people learn faster and they are more interested in learning. If this is reflected in the curriculum in the future, we will have a generation of future leaders and activists in water and sanitation. They will be able to influence and make informed decisions about water and sanitation. WASH is very vital for economic development, as well, and to me WASH is equal to health. In essence, when people are healthy we have the ability to be more productive, and the economy will likely be boosted due to the increased productivity.

Do you have a favorite food or dish?

My favorite dish includes millet bread with smoked pasted fish. I know how to prepare this dish anywhere and its just my favorite. I enjoy cooking in general for myself and for my colleagues. I am usually curious about what I eat. When you cook for yourself you can control what goes into your food. It gives you the option to prepare a heathy meal when you know what you are putting in the food. For example, I can control how much sugar is in the food I cook. I can also try to limit the salts and the amount of fats.

When I was growing up, I was in a family with mostly girls. In my culture, the responsibility of cooking is mostly given to the girls, but in my home my mom did not expect to have that same mentality. My mom would set up a timetable so that both the boys and the girls could cook. This is how I was able to learn hands on cooking at a young age.

Do you enjoy playing or watching sports? Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

I enjoy playing football*, usually I play the striker or attack, offensive type positions. Anything that makes me a healthier person is just amazing. Whenever I play football, I feel refreshed. It is also an avenue for socializing, I enjoy spending time with my team. After you eat its always good to work off the calories. Also, I enjoy watching football and rugby.

*international football, known as “soccer” in the United States.