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The Global Handwashing Partnership

Meet the Hygiene Heroes in Action

July 16, 2018

Editor’s note: Throughout the High-Level Political Forum, we’re highlighting some of the ways that Global Handwashing Partnership members are contributing to progress towards SDG 6. Today, United Purpose shares the stories of Hygiene Heroes leading change in their own communities.

By United Purpose Nigeria

For the fourth consecutive year, United Purpose, in partnership with the PZ Cussons Foundation, organized Nigeria’s (and one of the world’s) largest Global Handwashing Day campaigns. In total, more than 46,000 people washed their hands with soap during our campaign activities, a unique achievement in Nigeria.

At events in nine Local Government Area (LGA) in Cross River and Benue States, children learned how they can avoid certain illnesses by handwashing with soap, by playing fun and informative games and performing to our Global Handwashing Day campaign anthem. Close to 200 schools commemorated the UN Global Handwashing Day. In each LGA, two enthusiastic and outspoken children were asked to volunteer to share their learnings and motivational stories with other school children. Using this peer-to-peer learning activity, also dubbed ‘Hygiene Heroes in Action’, the nominated Hygiene Heroes visited other schools in their area to share their enthusiasm about hygiene.

Meet three of the Hygiene Heroes working to promote good hygiene:

Isabella Isaac Magnus is a Hygiene Hero from Abi LGA, Cross River State. Isabella loves talking, singing and dancing, but her dream is to become a doctor: ‘’Because I understood that handwashing saves lives like the handwashing song [Wash Your Hands O] says, I have decided to tell and teach people how to wash their hands so that they can live long and live healthy’’. Her mission didn’t end there, as she visited another school in her area, where she taught her peers the five domains of hygiene, and showed them how to construct a tippy tap – a simple, low-cost handwashing station. She also showed teachers and pupils how to wash hands, and left them amazed at her boldness and expressiveness as a true ‘Hygiene Hero’ on a mission to save lives.

Sylvia Udokwu, one of our Hygiene Heroes from Ikom Local Government Area (LGA), Cross River State, attends Foresight Primary School.  She is an active member of the Environmental Health Club in her school. Why? In her own words: ‘’I want to save lives, I want to teach people about hygiene, I want to create awareness about keeping ourselves and our environment clean, to eradicate sickness and disease’’’.

Global Handwashing Day was an opportunity for her to spread the message. As a true Hygiene Hero she visited another school in her area, not only addressing other pupils but also school management. Her goal was to convince them that handwashing is important and should be practiced in the school environment at all critical times. She also demonstrated when and how handwashing needs to happen. Sylvia clearly transferred her enthusiasm – the school immediately decided to set up an Environmental Health Club!

This is Clifford Uchenna, a Hygiene Hero from Ikom LGA, Cross River State. As part of peer-to-peer learning activities facilitated by United Purpose as part of the Global Handwashing Day campaign, he delivered a speech and offered support to another school in his area. Where does his commitment to handwashing come from? In his own words, ‘’I want to teach people how to prevent diseases; diseases caused by bacteria and viruses such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, monkey pox, typhoid and other infections. The rate of children dying is too much and I don’t like seeing children die so if I spread this information, children will not die anyhow’’. He showed how handwashing can be made simple, by demonstrating proper handwashing, using locally available materials to construct tippy taps (fork sticks, wooden cross bar, nails, rope, plastic bottle), and setting up a Hygiene Corner for the school.

To learn more about United Purpose and our work promoting hygiene, watch our Global Handwashing Day video, and watch this video to hear the Wash Your Hands O song.

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