Today was very busy in the office.
Since I was home alone, I knew I was too tired to cook. Yet I was hungry. I am an ardent lover of roasted corn. I stopped by a corn roaster very close to my house to pick one and added to it coconut. I got home, washed the coconut, put the roasted corn inside the microwave for some minutes, rinsed plate from which I settled down and did justice to the queer delicacy.
As I was about to discard the old newspaper with which the corn and coconut were wrapped, I saw a story and it caught my attention. It was Next Newspaper of November 11, 2009, captioned, ‘Students sometimes use the bush.’ The report states in part, ‘in his four years in Birrel Avenue High school, Yaba, Chibuike Umeh, has dreaded using the school toilet because of its state.’ “It’s very messy,” he said. “Every time you go in, you must see urine on the floor, and sometimes you even see faeces on the floor. We usually urinate somewhere behind the (school) building, and when we have to do the main thing (defecate), we don’t sit on the bowl; even sometimes, some students do it on the floor.”
As I read the report and meditated on it, it became clear that the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) campaign does not have any breath of expression in most of our public schools and hospitals as there is no water to flush the toilet, not to talk of the user washing his or her hand.
I later remembered some of the things we learnt in a recent UNICEF meeting, where it was concluded as follows:
– Most illness and deaths in children results from germs through food and water.
– Frequent and proper hand washing with soap or ash and clean water kill and remove germs from hands.
– We are to wash our hands before preparing food, before eating, after eating, before feeding baby, after using latrines, after cleaning and disposing the child’s faeces.
– According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, ‘Hand Washing is the single most important means to keep from getting sick and to prevent the spread of infection.’
I relate very well to my last story. Let me share this with you: Hygiene was not part of the deal growing up. Though, as I grew older and attained independence, I got better. But I wasn’t interested in hand washing.
I did not see its importance until I got married. My wife would insist on hand washing, rinsing of already washed cutlery before we use and fruits before we eat. It was war. As she insisted, I began to practice hand washing and other hygiene measures she insisted on, though I did not fully comprehend why I should, considering my background, I did it religiously because my wife insisted.
Few years into our marriage, I was attending a training-the-trainer workshop on Child Rights Reporting at the United Nations House, Abuja, organized by UNICEF, there we treated a topic known as WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). There I learnt the wisdom in hand washing. According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, ‘Hand Washing is the single most important means to keep from getting sick and to prevent the spread of infection.’ We were also informed that many children have been lost to poor hygiene practices. As we were being trained, I did not know when I shouted, ‘this is what my wife has been telling me o!’
I think it is high time we took hygiene serious by leading our children to embrace hand washing after the use of toilet, returning home after the day. We should also wash fruits before we consume and wash or rinse our cutlery before we use them.
Thank you for visiting today. I look forward to your comments.
Do have an INSPIRED day as I urge you to Think the Child! Think Today! Think the Future!