Handwashing: Something to Celebrate

Washing your hands may seem like an everyday activity, but it is something to celebrate.  On October 15 of this year, 200 million people in over 100 countries participated in Global Handwashing Day.  This event spotlights the state of handwashing in every part of the world and raises awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap.  According to www.globalhandwashing.org, “Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year.”

Deep Springs is highly aware of these facts, so we participated in Global Handwashing Day in Haiti.  CEO Michael Ritter shared these details:

“Our Leogane Field Supervisors conducted activities in an orphanage, four primary schools, and one secondary school.  They estimated that they reached over 460 students in all of the classes they visited.  They made presentations about the importance of washing your hands at critical times and treating water.  They distributed school notebooks with Gadyen Dlo [brand chlorine] instruction cards, posters about handwashing, and oral rehydration salts.”

In addition to working with children, supervisors created three handwashing stations in the town of Leogane by setting up a Bucket of Life with soap.  This also provided an opportunity to distribute locally produced chlorine bottles, soap, oral rehydration salts, and posters about cholera. An estimated 650 people were able to not only wash their hands, but learn how to improve the state of health and sanitation in their country.

Global Handwashing Day was also recognized during the UNC Water and Health Conference, where Michael was in attendance while supervisors facilitated the activities in Leogane. 

Americans wash their hands an average of eight times per day, but in many areas of the world this number is nonexistent.  Proper sanitation is an integral part of Deep Springs’ vision of improving public health.  Campaigns like National Handwashing Day bring the necessity – and in this case simplicity – of that idea to the forefront.