High-five for hand-washing!

Jul 19, 2017
By Joseline Annan; Edited by Leanna Cappiello

​Sherifa is a nine-year-old primary student. With a radiant smile, the young girl spoke about the benefits of the life-changing WASH Up! program she experienced at her school

WASH Up! uses Sesame Street characters to interact with kids, teaching them about proper hygiene practices.

Many children under the age of five are suffering from preventable and treatable diseases. By creating meaningful sanitation and hygiene education, Raya and Elmo–both puppets– have the unique ability to talk to children, model behaviours, and give them the language to talk about taboo topics like toilet use. Raya pioneers conversations like how to wash hands before meals and after toilet use, using footwear in the washrooms and why drinking clean water can keep us healthy.

Watch this video of Raya and Elmo in action! 

After becoming acquainted with her new puppet friends, Sherifa is often found singing the hand-washing song. The tune reminds her of how to wash her hands with soap under running water. “I taught my friends how to sing the song and practice good hygiene, like washing the bowls right after eating and not walking barefoot,” she says.

Muneratu, Sherifa’s mother, was happy to observe improved hygiene practices in her daughter. Not long ago, Sherifa hardly washed her hands unless she was told to. But now, she washes her hands with soap under running water before eating and after using the latrine. “She even remembers to brush her teeth and always washes the bowls at home,” Muneratu says proudly.

Even outside of school, Sherifa and her friends educate other children in the community. The children monitor each other’s gallons to make sure there’s enough water in it. Soap is made available at each hand-washing station.

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