Handwashing in a Nutshell

Handwashing is the easiest way to prevent the spread of germs and subsequent illness.  It's very basic, but many many people, especially children, don't properly wash their hands.  The short version:  water + soap + 20 seconds of vigorous scrubbing all over (I mean all over . . . between fingers, palms, back of hands, under nails, wrist) + rinse + dry with a towel (paper or otherwise). 

The hygiene workshop I was leading was initially going to be about personal hygiene in general and focused on handwashing, hairwashing, and general bodily cleanliness.  However time was limited and my Vietnamese is terrible, so we reached a consensus to just teach proper handwashing technique with a short discussion about general cleanliness afterward. 

At the start of our workshop, the children indicated that they knew how to wash their hands.  We had them demonstrate, and like every other child, handwashing consisted of sticking their hands in water and lightly rubbing them for about 2 to 3 seconds.  So we started at the beginning.  We brainstormed and elicited the children's thought on when they should wash their hands and came up with a list:  before and after eating, after going to the bathroom, after touching animals, after sneezing & coughing, and when there is visible dirt.  There may have been more, but it's three days later now and I'm blanking a bit.  After that we drilled them on the five main steps to handwashing and then had them practice.  We ended up not having access to running water and soap like I had hoped, so we practiced vigorously scrubbing  for 20 seconds using hand sanitizer.  As a wrap up to the lesson, we had a short brainstorm and discussion about other aspects of hygiene such as washing your face, washing your hair, feet, etc.  The students had a brief review of handwashing yesterday and they seemed to remember most of it, so I'm hopeful that this lesson will stick with them. 

Also, clinic is going well and I have a lot to say about it, but that's another post for another day.