Being a mother and a blogger, health issues have always been close to my heart. Also, when with every season change we are welcomed with a new health concern like swine flu, dengue, or the recent pollution I want to be aware and make people aware specially the rural class where people are less educated and don’t get indulge into healthy habits. So, to work towards my goal I joined an NGO, which focus on creating awareness related to health and hygiene, educating our maids about basic cleaning.
Our NGO also focuses on schools because it is the place where kids learn and pick up fast. But this time while visiting a local school, I was surprised as it turned out to be very special and informative. Visiting one of the local village school, I observed that primary class students use chalk to write on their slates as a learning tool. Children were writing, few were just giggling and chatting and some of them were erasing with their hands to write correctly from what teacher was writing on the black board. The sight of these young lads enjoying life without a worry was immensely pleasurable, small -small things make them laugh and cuddle.
Than the bell rang and all the kids left everything as it is and ran towards the water taps, washing their hands with water only and no soap. No soap? Then what’s the use of washing hands, I was aghast at the plight and lack of awareness of these kids…. there were few kids with some sort of white foam coming out of their hands, this disturbed me. I walked up to the teacher and asked her to stop putting food for the kids (mid-day meal), as their hands were dirty with chalk powder, and what not, have they even wash their hands after going to the loo earlier.
Just then when I was about to start preaching about personal hygiene and care and awareness about washing hands before eating anything and its consequent effect on savings in medical cost and attendance in schools, someone interrupted me. I turned and was greeted by Mr.Sabharwal the head master of this local village school. I objected about how can kids have their food without washing their hands, they can get stomach diseases, gastroenteritis and miss school for days.
Mr Sabharwal, said ma’am all kids have washed their hands with soap. Now I was angry how can a headmaster bluff and tell lie, when in front of my eyes the children were writing with chalk on their slates, rubbing with their bare ends and then just washed their hands with water and no soap.
Mr Sabharwal, gave me a piece of chalk and asked me to rub on my hands and post that he asked me to now wash my hands from tap water….and to my surprise, I was a bit embarrassed at my own lack of awareness about these new innovations, yes there was soap in my hands when water and chalk powder mixed up and yes it cleaned up the dirt.
Sabharwal explained that few months’ backs Savlon company people came up and distributed these chalk-soap boxes to them. They explained the need and consequence of lack of personal hygiene and washing of hands. He continued showing me the pictorial coloured pamphlet in Hindi that was given to the villagers and parents of each child studying in the school.
I was impressed…I was very happy with this great innovative social project of Savlon. They have not only enabled children, school, and parents to use chalk to learn to write but also used it as a mean to keep hands clean…the slogan “Padho-likho aur haat bhi saaf rakho”, “padho -likho aur bimariyon se bachon” says it all.
Great work Savlon. Happy children after their meal were running around, giggling, playing, and growing towards a healthy life and future. Truly it was a magical chalk.