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Rajasthan gearing up for the Global Handwashing Day

© UNICEF/ 2008

Pankaj Mathur

Rajasthan, Jaipur, 14 October 2008: At 11 in the morning on 14th October, 2008 the Government Girl’s Senior Secondary School campus in Malviya Nagar Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, is calm and peaceful. Yet, amidst the tranquility, the school main hall is buzzing with activity and the air is filled with enthusiasm. On one side of the hall, girl students are busy colouring their drawings. On the other side are girls vehemently articulating their views in favour of hygiene and handwashing. A number of Government schools in Jaipur have organized similar activities, a day prior to the State Launch of Global Handwashing Day- 15 October, 2008.

"On the occasion of Global Handwashing Day, 15 October, 2008, 12.5 million children in 100,000 schools of the state will wash their hands with soap before eating their mid-day-meal” says UNICEF State Chief, Samuel Mawunganidge."

Jyoti, a girl student, depicts through her painting how to keep the house and the surroundings clean. “As part of various activities being organized in my school for Global Handwashing Day, I have learnt to wash my hands with soap properly, to prevent myself from diseases”. She says, explaining the right way of washing hands with soap following the five steps.

It is quite heartening to see the enthusiasm and dedication of the girls sitting in rows and concentrating on their drawings, minutely perfecting each curve and color scheme. These drawing competitions have been organized by the Education Department to increase awareness on hygiene and sanitation issues as part of the Global Handwashing Day celebrations. The department will select the top three paintings and will award the winners on 15th October at a state-level function.

On the other side of the hall, a Declamation Competition is in progress. One at a time, the confident girls voice their opinions on the importance of cleanliness. They know that the best speaker would get an award at the state-level function on Global Handwashing Day. “It is very important for all citizens of our country to understand the relevance of adopting good hygiene and sanitation practices. Microscopic bacteria are invisible and rampant everywhere which easily cling to our hands and get inside our body. Therefore, we all take a pledge on this day to wash our hands properly with soap before eating and after defecation, to get rid of harmful bacteria”, pledges Surabhi of Grade 11.

© UNICEF/ 2008

“This is the first time that the Education Department is organizing activities for Handwashing Day. I appreciate the excitement among the girls who are enthusiastically participating in various activities. The teachers have given lectures, demonstrated the five steps for handwashing and displayed posters and leaflets to create awareness among the students of our school. On 15th October, the school students will take part in a rally and will wash their hands with soap before their mid-day-meal. Our students will also participate in the event organized for the state-level launch of the campaign” says the Principal, Government Girl’s Higher Secondary School, Malviya Nagar, Jaipur.

“On the occasion of Global Handwashing Day, 15 October, 2008, 12.5 million children in 100,000 schools of the state will wash their hands with soap before eating their mid-day-meal” says UNICEF State Chief, Samuel Mawunganidge. “As a result of this massive campaign in the state, the children will learn hand washing with soap following the five steps and the schools will commit to ensure availability of soap at all times. The State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM), Government of Rajasthan is organizing a State Launch with support from the Public Health Engineering Department, Education Department and UNICEF on the occasion of Global Handwashing Day. This will be followed by events at the district level to spread the message across the State”, he added.

For more information please contact- pmathur@unicef.org, kharries@unicef.org

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