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South Africa, 16 October 2015: Children pledge to change poor hygiene habits at Global Handwashing Day event in Soweto

© UNICEF South Africa/2015/Tsebe

16 October 2015, SOWETO, South Africa – Children, teachers, government officials, private sector representatives and popular music groups all gathered in Soweto, at Faranani Primary School, on Thursday 15th October to celebrate Global Hand Washing Day. The theme this year was ‘Raise a Hand for Hygiene’. The event was a collaborative partnership between the Department of Water Affairs & Sanitation, Department of Health, Unilever and UNICEF.

The day started off with speeches, with the government officials and Unilever Executive Vice President, Bruno Witvoet, stressing the importance of a collaborative effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted at the UN a few weeks ago.

Unilever‘s Global Social Mission Director for Lifebuoy, Dr. Myriam Sedibe, highlighted the difference made globally through handwashing with soap, particularly in reducing diarrhoeal diseases and mortality rates. The World Health Organization estimates that 1, 5 million children under the age of five years, die from diarrhoeal-related diseases each year.

© UNICEF South Africa/2015/Tsebe
Faranani Primary school student helps Unilever Executive Vice President Bruno Witvoet, wash his hands effectively.

But it was the pupils of Faranani Primary School that were the real celebrities of the day, showing that they have learnt the importance of washing their hands with soap. The children demonstrated how to stop germs from spreading, by washing their hands at hand washing stations, and singing the global theme song ‘Tell Everyone’ with pop music group, Mafikizolo.

The Day ended on a high note, with the pupils and the important visitors pledging to change poor hygiene habits, by washing their hands with soap. Everyone’s pledge was sealed by printing their hands on the UNICEF’s pledge wall, while vowing to continue practicing hand washing, so that they can keep themselves and others germ free.



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