UMCOR / News Room / News & Features / Archives 2009 / 1013 - UMCOR Indonesia Celebrates Global Hand Washing Day

UMCOR Indonesia Celebrates Global Hand Washing Day

October 13, 2009 —The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Indonesia Mission will celebrate Global Hand Washing Day on October 15, 2009 in 13 Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Project schools throughout Aceh Province. The celebration is designed to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of washing hands with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases.

Clean Hands Save Lives

UMCOR Indonesia’s Head of Mission, John Holveck, explains, “Children suffer disproportionately from diarrheal diseases –with more then 3.5 million children under five dying every year worldwide from diarrhea and pneumonia-related diseases. The simple act of washing hands with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrheal rates among children under five by almost 50 per cent, and respiratory infections by nearly 25 percent.”

For the greatest impact, hands should be scrubbed with soap for at least 20 seconds. Research in several developing countries illustrate that lack of soap is usually not the barrier – with the vast majority of even poor households having soap at home – rather, the problem is that soap is rarely used for hand washing. 

Hygiene Heroes

Select students, called “hygiene heroes,” have received leadership training to ensure good health and hygiene procedures are taken at school. Students are excited to share the information with their classmates but also bring the information home, where it is shared with parents and siblings.  The measures include hand washing, proper care for food and using the toilet rather than the outside. When asked what they want to do when they grow-up, most of the children have the same answer, “Doctor!”

In celebration of Global Hand Washing Day, UMCOR WASH Project schools will engage in a variety of events aimed at improving proper hand washing practices, including song competitions, hand washing relay races, essay and poem contests, and participation in plays, dressed as germs, hands, and soap.

More than 40% of the population of Aceh Province does not have access to improved water supply or adequate sanitation. According to a recent report by the United Nations, Aceh has an under-five mortality rate of 46 per 1000 live births, slightly above the national average of 44, and well above the 2015 Millennium Development Goal target of 32. Since 2007, UMCOR Indonesia has provided hygiene promotion assistance and constructed child-friendly sanitation facilities in nearly 50 schools in Aceh. Project activities include school-wide events promoting the importance of hand washing with soap, teeth-brushing, and keeping school grounds clean.

Global Hand Washing Day was initiated by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Hand Washing with Soap in 2008, when more than 120 million children in more than 70 countries around the world washed their hands with soap. The event is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organization, NGOs, private companies and individuals around the globe.

About UMCOR Indonesia

The United Methodist Committee on Relief is a not-for-profit global humanitarian aid organization, working in more than 80 countries worldwide. Our mission is to alleviate human suffering – whether caused by war, conflict, or natural disaster, with open hearts and minds to all people.

UMCOR established its field offices in Indonesia following the December 2004 tsunami. Country operations are based in Medan with field offices in Banda Aceh and Bireuen.

UMCOR Indonesia continues to help those affected by the 2005 tsunami and the 30 year conflict preceding it. To support these projects, please give generously to Indonesia Emergency, UMCOR Advance #217400. Online Giving