Most of the toilets in schools have no running water and no toilet paper. It is not difficult to imagine how germs can get passed around.
- Dirty hands hold pen, pen goes to mouth
- Dirty hands shake hands with other kids, teachers, visitors
- Dirty hands eat lunch
Once these germs get into your digestive system they are likely to cause diarrhoea . In Tanzania diarrhoea kills.
We cannot see the germs but we know they are there and we know they are dangerous. By talking this simple concept through with the kids we can highlight how germs are moved around. We then look at how we wash our hands and it never ceases to amaze just how many people miss cleaning their thumbs. The thumb holds everything and thus carries the most germs, so we hold hand washing classes with the kids.
We then install hand washing stations between the classrooms and the toilets so that everyone can wash their hands as they return.
We also talk about what to do if you do get diarrhoea and what not to do. We include this because we heard a story about a young mother whose baby had diarrhoea and the more she gave it to eat and drink the more it continued. In ignorance she then stopped giving the baby food and water and the baby died.
Our recent community survey (2012) highlighted that 54% of the community now have hand washing facilities at home, so we have a way to go to get the message home, but it proves it works. We will re-run the class and set about making easy hand washing systems.