Join Us for Global Handwashing Day on October 15

Handwashing cropped By Save the Children's Manager of School Health and Nutrition in Pakistan

Pakistan

October 8, 2010


Have you washed your hands today?

What may seem to be a common practice to you is not so common in other parts of the world. 

Next week, Pakistan will join countries around the globe to promote “Global Handwashing Day” on October 15. 

Why the need for a Global Handwashing Day? 

Each year, children worldwide miss 272 million school days because of diarrhea. One of the easiest ways to help prevent the spread of diarrhea and other diseases is by washing your hands.  But many school children, including children here in Pakistan, have no access to clean water or soap at their schools.

Last year, on the night before Global Handwashing Day, I received a text message.  It said, “Washing hands with soap can reduce 30% of diarrheal deaths in children.”  Several more text messages rapidly followed, each highlighting the benefits of handwashing.

One of Save the Children’s education officers in Khyber PakhtunKhwa Province (KPK) came up with the idea for the texting campaign as a way to spread the message to a lot of people in a short time.  And, the best part — it cost almost nothing.  He estimates that up to 3,000 teachers, community members and parent-teacher council members at the 150 schools where Save the Children works participated in the texting campaign, sending messages to their family and friends. 

This year, we have lots of fun school activities planned, from poster competitions to skits to street walks with public officials, teachers, community members and children.  

We will be posting photos of some of our activities and others from around the globe here on our blog, so we hope you’ll check back on October 15.  Let us know what you are planning for that day, too.

Looking for a way to get involved?  Why not share Save the Children’s new “dirty word” video on germs and the importance of handwashing.

WASH on The Hill

Jessica headshotJessica Harris

Media Relations Intern, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dr. Pamela Young's message was heard loud and clear Wednesday morning at the “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Schools in the Developing World” briefing on Capitol Hill, moderated by Save the Children's Seung Lee, head of our global school health and nutrition programs. If the issue at hand is affecting children, get the children involved.     

Dr. Young, the PLAN representative, spoke this morning about water and hygiene programs in developing countries, primarily in schools.     

PLAN, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, and many other groups are working across the globe to teach basic hygiene practices, provide clean water, and install latrines, for the students to use and to boost school enrollment.     

“The key challenges boil down to two things”, said Dr. Dennis Warner of Catholic Relief Services. “The first is getting the children into school.  The second is keeping them there.” He added that by improving sanitation, which in turn improves the health and well-being of children, more students will be able to attend school on a regular basis. 

Watch our "Dirty Words" video to find out how Save the Children improved sanitation conditions in Nepal    


 

Three high school students from H.B. Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington, Va., highlighted the need to improve conditions for children in developing countries. These high school juniors, along with other members of their class, are involved with H2O for LIFE, which stands for Help 2 Others, a school-to-school program that was founded by a group of teachers in Minnesota.

Water_Hygiene 001

Cecilia Allen, Delaney Steffan, Mary Shields of H.B. Woodlawn High School, and Seung Lee of Save the Children pose outside of the briefing room with the Washington Monument in the background.

The group’s mission is to make a difference; their plan is to take it one step at a time. Mary Shields, one of the students, emphasized this when she said “anything you do is at least something.” This fact, often lost in the theory that one person cannot create change, is vital to the cause. Every little bit helps.    

On a side note, this was my first Capitol Hill briefing and I have to say I was impressed with the attitude these students had about helping others. For people that age to focus on saving lives in countries they have never even visited is a testament to their understanding that they are citizens of a global community.      

I look forward to attending more briefings and am honored to be a part of Save the Children…at least until December!