Lifebuoy celebrated the 8th Global Handwashing Day during October with an event at Faranani Primary School in Soweto, attended by over 2 000 learners and guests.
Lifebuoy’s ‘School of 5’ hygiene programme, which launched in 2012, is part of the innovative Help a Child Reach 5 campaign that demonstrates the importance of handwashing as an easy and affordable method of disease prevention.
Saving millions of children and families worldwide through the simple act of washing hands correctly is easy. Although it may be a small act, its enormous benefits include saving the lives of new-borns and children.
Lifebuoy and the co-founder and Unilever hygiene and nutrition social mission director for Africa, Dr Myriam Sidibe, ensured that this year’s campaign was a huge success. The South African Department of Health (DOH) put its support behind the initiative by declaring October as National Handwashing Month.
Dr Sidibe is impressed with the response the campaign has received since 2012. ‘In the first year when we created Global Handwashing Day we thought we might have 10 or 15 countries participating. Looking at the response we’ve had over the years, with 200 million people celebrating the day in over 100 countries, it’s surpassed everything we ever imagined.’
‘Millions of people were dying each year before we started the initiative. The number of infected children has dropped to 1,7 million from the 3,4 million children losing their lives to diarrhoea and pneumonia annually. The evidence was clear, and it still is. We can save millions of lives if we get proper handwashing into every home.’
Lifebuoy aims to reach its goal of 1 billion people by 2020 and the hygiene initiative has already reached over 250 million people globally and 8 million in South Africa. ‘We’ve touched the lives of 2 000 kids at Faranani and that means we’ve touched the lives of 2 000 families. It’s a life lesson that will save many,’ says Dr Sidibe.
The energy from the Faranani learners was exhilarating and they were delighted by a performance from Mafikizolo. ‘The kids loved the attention given to their school and seeing it on TV. They’re now talking to their parents about the day and continuing to learn the five steps of washing their hands properly,’ Dr Sidibe adds.
Click and watch the video of what happened on Global Handwashing Day.