Hands Up For Health

By: Lisa Stevens

As one of the newest members of the Pandoo Foundation team, I was incredibly excited to use my health skills and knowledge to help organize an activity for Global Handwashing Advocacy Day on the 15th of October.

The Pandoo Foundation pride themselves on delivering engaging and interactive learning through storytelling and game-play. So with the very talented team at the Pandoo Club, we wrote a handwashing story starring characters from our virtual world Pandoo Nation.

To accompany this, we used a series of fun activities showing the spread of germs around our homes and in our bodies. We sneezed brightly colored paint “germs” onto posters, spread a ball “infected” with talcum powder “germs” across the room, and washed away ground black pepper “germs” using soap and water.

When we trialed these activities with the Pandoo Club kids, there were screams of both joy and disgust as “germs” spread their way across the center. It was amazing seeing how much impact very simple visual aids had to help the kids realize the importance of handwashing. It was even more amazing at what I was able to learn, as even though I have always washed my hands with soap, I think was mostly due to habit! When I saw in real time the effect that adding soap to water had in reducing surface tension and facilitating the removal of our black pepper “germs”, it really reinforced the science behind the behavior and I now wash my own hands more effectively because of this awareness.

The following week, our handwashing day event went mobile to visit Mandaue City’s Umapad Elementary School with over 300 excited children. Having grown up in the developed nation of New Zealand, it was confronting to arrive at the school and realize that the only access to water they had was a single copper drum serving a school of over one thousand. It hit home how much I took for granted just having the MEANS to wash my hands when they are dirty, let alone the education to understand how or why. The children at the school spent the entire morning fully engaged in our activities and I was humbled at how they listened and absorbed our information. At the end of the day, we were able to gift the children their own “Pandoo Health Packs” containing soap, tissues, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

With an obvious need for additional resources to facilitate handwashing, it made me really happy that we were able to provide just a few tools to make it easier for the kids to put health lessons into practice. This event helped reinforce the potential that exists for future Pandoo Foundation Health Projects to contribute to a new generation of children who are agents of change in their communities. I look forward to working on a happier and healthier future for all of them.