Intervention to promote Hand washing Behavior in Adharbhoot Lower Secondary School, Narayansthan, Baglung

SWAN organized a hand washing event in Adharbhoot LSS of Narayansthan VDC, Baglung on 12th January, 2016. Hand washing day is globally celebrated on 15th October every year. It is observed as an advocacy day with an objective to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. SWAN also had a similar objective to raise awareness among the kids of this school.

“As an education officer of SWAN, during my visits, I always took notice of school kids with dirty hands. I thus felt the need to tell the school, parents and children about the importance of hand washing. Hence, I planned a hand washing event in the school. The ulterior motive was to promote hand washing with soap as a habit in kids,” Says Kalpana Karki Basnet, Education Officer of SWAN. She adds, “Finally, we are able to create realization among the targeted group.”

Adharbhoot Lower Secondary School is one of the schools in Narayansthan VDC of Baglung where 95 % of the students belong to the so-called untouchable community. Most of them have a poor family background. Gita Sharma, Playgroup Facilitator says, “Parents themselves are unaware about basic hygiene and sanitation so we can't really expect them to teach or maintain their children’s hygiene. However, I know events such as these inspire school children and they will take the messages to their home and into their communities. I have also seen that children enjoy washing their hands with soap.”

During the event, Education officer of SWAN, Mrs. Kalpana Basnet herself took an initiative to demonstrate how one should wash their hands with soap. She helped the playgroup kids do the same. Mrs. Basnet said, “Children felt loved when they were helped to wash their hands. If the school creates an atmosphere to wash their hands during school time, they will definitely inculcate this as a habit." She requested the school to keep the wash kits provided by SWAN for a week and make them practice the same. SWAN provided wash kits that included; soap, towels, brush, paste, nail cutter etc to 27 kids from playgroup to grade one.

Ashim Nepali, one of the kids from the playgroup section of Adharbhoot LSS was very happy to receive wash kits from SWAN. He said, “I will regularly wash my hands with soap.” Mrs. Anita Nepali, mother of Ashim said “We seldom practiced hand washing with soap. Today onwards, I will change my habit because I want my son to be free of diseases.”

Research says each year, Diarrheal diseases and Pneumonia together kill almost 4 million children under the age of five in developing countries. Hand washing with soap may seem like a simple behavior, but it is rarely practiced. This is both due to lack of resources as well as it not being a habit. SWAN aims to introduce simple behavioral changes such as Hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet as the key message to prevent diarrheal and respiratory disease in children to a larger scale.

Chairperson of ECD School, Mr. Bishnu Prasad Regmi said that hand washing event conducted by SWAN will definitely bring some change in the children, as well as their families and their communities.

A group of girls from the school also performed a beautiful song and dance with a message of hand washing and made the event more interesting. The first-ever Hand washing event, supported by SWAN in this school was a great success. All the participants; teachers, parents and students seemed happy. Playgroup facilitators Mrs. Gita Sharma with a smile on her face said, “I will hereafter regularly ask kids if they have washed their hands.”

By Prekshya Lamichhane, Communication/Documentation Officer, Social Welfare Association of Nepal (SWAN)

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