Blog post written by Julia Bolt, Public Health Fellow
On October 15, 2016, HopeCore hosted a celebration of Global Handwashing, spreading this year’s official motto:
“Make hand washing a habit!”
The event was a great success, with an estimated 800 student participants, along with representatives from the Maara Sub-County Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Health, the District County, religious leaders, and many teachers from the over 20 participating local schools.
Starting in 2008, Global Handwashing Day has been held yearly on this date and celebrated by an estimated 200 million people in 100 countries all around the world. 1.7 million children die from diarrhoea and pneumonia each year. A good handwashing habit can significant prevent these deaths.
This event is endorsed by many different stakeholders including governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, and private companies. The aim of this celebration is to: “increase awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives,” as stated by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap on their website.
HopeCore invited students to prepare a performance for a talent show. Students chose to engage in a great spectrum of activities during this time, from performances focused purely on entertainment, such as dancing and singing, to demonstrations of how to clean a pad, change a diaper, how to wash your hands, use WaterGuard, and the consequences of not maintaining good hygiene, such as the comedic relief “Jomo” who was struck down by cholera because he did not clean his hands.
The celebration was opened with a walk through town, in which students, HopeCore staff members, and other community members held posters and a banner promoting good hygiene and hand washing. The procession was led by HopeCore’s Land Cruiser playing music to keep energy high and bring attention throughout the community to the issue of handwashing.
Following the talent show, we had three staff members, Jesca Gakii, School-to-Community Representative, Julia Bolt, Global Health Fellow, and Esther Nyaga, Youth Peer Provider Project Assistant, do a hand washing dance to demonstrate one more time to all in attendance the correct method to use to wash hands – with soap, water, and a dance.
While all of these activities were on-going, we held a Hand washing mural contest, from which we picked the top three designs to award. We intend paint the images designed by these children to spread the word about the importance of hand washing all over our Sub-County. First place went to Nguruki Day Secondary School, and Duncan Murithi of St. Augustine Majira and Patience of Patience of Chogoria Complex Primary School tied for second.
We finished up the day, giving out hygienic products to participants in our talent show, the winners of the mural contest, and the top three performing upper and lower primary schools in the Maara Sub-County as selected by HopeCore’s WASH Monitor, Michael Mawira. All participants left with a smile on their face, and more knowledge about hand washing and hygiene than they had arrived with. Thanks to all those who help plan, and participated in this events success. We had a blast!