Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hand Washing Awareness

On Thursday the 2nd of April 2009 the hand washing awareness program delivered their last session of the series of four education and awareness raising workshops approaching the topic in different ways. The program has been taking place since February 2009 on most Thursday mornings with 30 students in attendance.

The final program included eighteen very excited students performing three dramas, a presentation of prizes for the poster drawing competition and the awarding of certificates of attendance and gifts to all students and families who took part in the Hand Washing Awareness program.

The full hand washing health awareness program involved a first workshop which was an overview of why it is important to wash with soap and water. The focus was on the path of transmission of illness and the steps needed to prevent the transmission of illness. Large posters depicting this information were used and a thorough hand washing demonstration took place. Students and their parents or other family members attended.

The second session was for students only and focused on other hygiene measures, revising the first session as well as reinforcing correct hand washing and demonstrating hand washing with ash and water if soap isn’t available.

The third workshop was a poster drawing competition which enabled the students to make beautiful posters with a hand washing health message. First, second, third and special mention prizes were chosen with great difficulty as all the posters were very beautiful and well thought out.

And finally the fourth and final session of this phase of the hand washing awareness program took place where three dramas were performed by the students, poster drawing prizes were presented and certificates of attendance and gifts were awarded.

The students spent hours enthusiastically rehearsing the dramas for the final performance after school and also practiced and remembered their dialogue in their own time.

The first drama emphasized the importance of washing with soap and water and used the idea that if you are unwell you are unable to play the sports you like with your friends. Three boys were playing cricket and one boy couldn’t catch the ball because he had a painful eye with conjunctivitis. He fell to the ground in a spectacular fashion as he leapt to take the catch. Meanwhile, three girls were playing hopscotch and one girl doubled over in pain with cramps from diarrhoea. The students that were healthy then demonstrated correct hand washing with soap and water to those who were unwell explaining why it was important.

The second drama looked at food preparation and hand washing. The students acted as two family groups, mother, father and child, living beside each other. One healthy family and one unhealthy family, one mother preparing food in a safe way by washing hands, covering food and cooking at high temperatures and the other mother not washing her hands or preparing food correctly. Additionally, the unhealthy mothers attending to her sick child without any focus on hygiene and illness transmission. When the two husbands returned home from work the two families discussed health and illness prevention and the unhealthy family agreed to try washing with soap and water and taking care in food preparation. From the photos you will see that a young child from the audience was fascinated by what was happening and joined this drama.

The third drama showed the dangers of eating open food. A very funny jal muri seller was coughing and spitting over the food and the student who bought food from him was ill the very next day. Dr Jahid and Sister Sumi were played very well by the students giving health advice and reminding the students of the dangers of eating unsafe food.

All the students put a great deal of effort into preparing for the drama and will be able to use their drama skills and knowledge to help to educate the rest of the students in the school around illness prevention through hand washing with soap and water. It is planned that the thirty students who have taken part in the intensive hand washing health awareness program will be involved, together with the Health Care Centre staff, in educating and raising awareness throughout the rest of the school.

The prize winning posters were chosen because they included many of the ideas discussed during the program such as use a hygienic toilet, drink boiled water, cook food at high temperature, cover food, wash your hands with soap and water, dust and dirt contains bacteria, illness that can result from not washing hands with soap and water include diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, various skin problems and respiratory problems like coughs and colds. Original ideas where also rewarded. But overall it was very nice to see the care and effort that all students had put into their posters.

Education and awareness activities will continue throughout the school and the community using the thirty students as agents of change. Monitoring and evaluation activities will also continue so that there is evidence that the program has had an impact. The Health Care Centre staffs are also in the process of preparing a basic Nutrition Awareness Programme as part of the next major campaign.

No comments: