Fighting germs in seven steps

16th April 2018

In rural communities in Nepal, where lifestyles are based around livestock and the everyday custom is to eat with your hands, handwashing is an important way to avoid the spread of germs and keep illnesses at bay. Raleigh volunteers in Shree Krishna Tol recently brought the community together to demonstrate the importance of hand hygiene, highlighting the effectiveness of handwashing in tackling germs and the benefits of water purification.

In Shree Krishna Tol in the Gorkha region of Nepal, children in the community have been known to get sick with illnesses like diarrhoea which can keep them at home and out of education. On an awareness raising day, Raleigh volunteers played games and held an educational session with the community to reinforce the importance of handwashing and water purification in maintaining a healthy community.

Hands in the air for killing germs!

To launch the community day, the volunteers demonstrated how easily germs can spread. By rubbing colourful tikka on their hands to represent germs, volunteers greeted everyone in the community with a handshake and asked them to pass it on. The tikka spread from hand to hand until eventually everyone was “infected”. Germs can spread just as easily and can make children sick if they don’t deal with them effectively.

The tikka game demonstrated how quickly germs can spread from hand to hand

With the children in the community, volunteers demonstrated the seven steps of handwashing. Raleigh volunteer Maisy explained:

“The seven steps of hand washing is all about washing your hands properly. They ensure that you wash your thumbs, your nails, the palms of your hands and your wrists, making sure to avoid germs. We also taught the children more about the best times to wash your hands, such as before eating, before cooking and after using the toilet. Everyone was laughing and smiling throughout the session. Everyone enjoyed the games and listened to whatever we had to say and seemed to be really engaged in what we were sharing with them.”

Molly, Sietske, Anna, Ralph, Wisse, Cat and Sarah demonstrate the seven steps of hand washing

Rajeep, the leader of the water user committee in Shree Krishna Tol, said: “The handwashing session was very useful for the community, especially for the children. The children don’t wash their hands properly every day, so ometimes the children get infected with illnesses which I think is down to washing problems. Hopefully this will decrease now they know the handwashing steps.”

Awareness raising around hand hygiene is a key part of the Raleigh project in Shree Krishna Tol.  Knowledge shared on the community day accompanies the new handwashing stations and tap stands which have been built in the community, ensuring that not only do the community have the means to boost sanitation, but also the knowledge. With every step, germs slowly get washed away making everyone in the community safe from illness.

Raleigh volunteers also explained the importance of water purification as part of their awareness raising session. The quality of drinking water can vary across communities in rural Nepal, and during certain parts of the year water sources can be at higher risk of contamination. For example, in the monsoon season, surface water run off can result in animal waste flowing into water sources, resulting in unclean and unsafe water.

Bikash explains the importance of water purification

Purification can ensure that the water is always safe to drink. Raleigh volunteer Bikash explained the methods of keeping water pure:

“The four water purification methods are chlorination, solar, boiling and filtration. For chlorination, all you need is a chlorine tablet from the market and put it in a container of water for 45 minutes to purify. In the solar methods, we put water in a transparent bottle and leave it in a sunny spot so that radiation from the sun can penetrate and kill the germs. We leave it out for 48 hours (depending on amount of water and weather) to ensure we purify the water properly. We do this to make the water clean and safe so everyone can get the water when they need it.”

The awareness day in Shree Krishna Tole was a real success. Together with the community, Raleigh volunteers emphasised the importance of sanitation in daily life and developed bonds which will last long after the end of the project.

Raleigh volunteer Pratima said: “To see the community getting involved in the session, enjoying it really thoroughly and being really involved, I really find these moments really fulfilling.”

An amazing community day shared by Raleigh volunteers and the people of Shree Krishna Tol

In Shree Krishna Tol, alongside this awareness raising Raleigh volunteers have been building a number of new hand washing stations, tap stands and a new 14,000L water tank which will improve water access in the community. Find out more about our current Expedition on the Raleigh Nepal Facebook and Instagram page

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