In celebration of Global Handwashing Day, Ghana Health and Education Initiative ran several outreaches to local primary and junior high schools. In each school, students assembled by their Polytank and ran through a series of activities. They began with the “Handwashing Song” that our Health Team had taught them, set to the familiar tune of "Frère Jacques .” Singing in unison with surprising enthusiasm, they sang first in Sefwi and then in English:
Soap and water, Soap and Water.
Wash your hands! Wash your hands!
Rub them both together, Rub them both together,
Clean them well! Clean them well!
Next the children were quizzed on the most important times for handwashing. Proud students ran to the front of the assembly to give their answers. Some gave incomplete answers, but after a few tries they had successfully identified the three most important times to wash your hands: before preparing food, before eating food, and after using the toilet.
The children then had the chance to put these principles into practice, and a few students were selected to demonstrate to their classmates how to give their hands a thorough scrub. Delighted to be chosen as demonstrators of this important hygiene behaviour, the children lathered vigorously and were careful to scrub and rinse every square inch of their hands, encouraged by the enthusiastic cheering of their classmates.
Following this, GHEI Community Health Workers presented the schools with bars of soap and certificates for each class, commending them for taking the handwashing with soap program seriously by putting it into practice each and every day. As we all know, it is this regular practice that makes handwashing such an effective deterrent to infection.
Anglican Primary School was awarded a special certificate for Top Handwashing School, as they have engaged in the program wholeheartedly. In fact, in the days building up to Global Handwashing Day, Anglican students would spot me walking by and begin singing the “Handwashing Song,” while pantomiming the hand actions.
GHEI’s health team ran five of these school outreaches yesterday, and will run another three today at schools in our neighbouring communities. Many thanks to all of our Community Health Workers, who endured sweltering heat to visit these schools, as well as The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap for their ongoing support! And congratulations to all our young handwashers out there, who continue to prevent illness by keeping clean and spreading the message!