In Papua New Guinea Global Handwashing Day (15th October) 2020 was celebrated through a series of activities at a host school in Kavieng. The day started with a parade through Kavieng Town accompanied by a police escort. 13 participating schools marched along with the procession, waving school flags, banners and posters of handwashing messages.
Students, teachers and WASH Committee members from several schools advocated along the road to promote the day’s theme, ‘Hand Hygiene for All.’ The procession was witnessed by over 1,000 men, women and children in town.
Once at the host school participants assembled in front of the flag pole where the National Anthem, the Niu Ailan song and the National Pledge were sung. As a form of welcome students from the host school portrayed proper handwashing in the form of a human sculpture. Shelters had been erected especially for the day and food was provided to each participating school.
Global Handwashing Day is a time to promote the value of positive hygiene practices, in order to protect yourself and your community. One of the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 is also one of the simplest; regular handwashing with soap and water. This message, as well as the day’s theme of ‘Hand Hygiene for All’, was brought to life through choir, dances, a string band, quests, poems, parades, speeches, demonstrations and live music.
Presentations were conducted by each school, who advocated handwashing regularly with soap through social messages. Students showed great pride, respect and ownership of the day’s activities and stressed the importance of handwashing at critical times.
One of the highlights of the day was the opening of a school handwashing station and lunch bay facility. The ribbon was cut by Live & Learn board member, Chris Gai. Eight taps were installed on the side of the facility (with room for another eight more) to encourage handwashing before eating meals and after playing.
As a result of the day’s celebrations, teachers from 18 schools are now confident organising global WASH events and students feel empowered advocating for issues they are passionate about through various mediums. The simple steps of handwashing with soap have been embraced by teachers, community members and students alike.
These Global Handwashing Day 2020 activities were implemented by Live & Learn PNG staff through the Water for Women – Resilient Islands WASH project, funded by the Australian Government.
This report was prepared by Live & Learn PNG project staff.