How Handwashing Can Save Lives

Oct. 24, 2018 INF-KLNM-17-PH0116_edit[1].CROP.jpg

Global Handwashing Day is observed every year on October 15. GFA-supported workers hold events each year to teach the importance of washing hands and how it can help prevent many fatal illnesses.

Inexpensive Disease Prevention

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “About 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two killers of young children around the world. Handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 children who gets sick with diarrhea and almost 1 out of 5 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia.”

These ailments are often contracted from germs and bacteria. Teaching people at a young age the importance of washing hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways of preventing disease. It can also save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.

Last time I got sickness and the doctor was asking me ‘Did you wash your hands properly?'

- Abhaya, Handwashing attendee

Taking Part in Global Awareness

GFA-supported workers and pastors in a number of countries observe this day by holding events that teach people in their communities how cleanliness leads to good health. Along with practical workshops that demonstrate to children and adults alike how to wash their hands properly, they also showed them pictures and gave them soap.

Janith, 10, said, “I am very happy to participate in the Global Handwashing Day program and learn how to wash my hands before and after having food and using toilet for our safety and good health. I thank the church and the staff for conducting such a helpful program.”

Larisa, mother of a Bridge of Hope child, said, “Before we use to wash our hands with only water, but through this program we came to know the importance of washing hands with soap. Now we wash our hands neatly with soap and prevent the diseases which comes through uncleanness of our hands.”


Another attendee named Abhaya said, “Last time I got sickness and the doctor was asking me ‘Did you wash your hands properly?’ I said no. He said, ‘You need to wash your hands properly,’ but the doctor did not teach me how to wash hands properly. From this awareness, now I learned how to wash my hands properly. So I thank you for teaching me.”

We touch dirty things everywhere, but when we come for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we just use little water to wash our hands and eat with the dirty hands.

- GFA-supported worker, Kabirah

GFA-supported workers host many similar events in various places to spread awareness of the life-saving effects of washing hands with soap. Many villages and slums alike participate in activities organized by Sisters of Compassion, Women’s Fellowships, Bridge of Hope staff and GFA-supported pastors. In some areas children are taught action songs, followed by practical information on the importance of hand washing, learning how this simple act helps prevent sicknesses and diseases.

“We all usually get sick because of not washing our hands properly,” GFA-supported worker, Kabirah, shared with a group of adults and children. “We touch dirty things everywhere, but when we come for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we just use little water to wash our hands and eat with the dirty hands.”

I Learned the Importance of Hand Washing

Various gatherings spark great joy in the lives of villagers and children as they receive free education on the importance of practical hygiene.

“Thank you, Women’s Fellowship team, for teaching us how to wash our hands,” said Madge, a village woman who attended a Global Hand Washing Day event put on by women in the local church. “Living in the village, we never use soap when we wash our hands; but today I learned the importance of handwashing.”


“Now the children tell the parents about the importance of handwashing, and they are doing it without any parental help,” a Bridge of Hope staff member said.

Bridge of Hope staff are grateful for the opportunity to celebrate health and hygiene while teaching their students.

To learn more, visit Handwashing Saves Lives.