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Bhubaneswar/Sambalpur: The Global Handwashing Day was celebrated today in Bhubaneswar and Sambalpur with great fervour by communities. Although October 15 is celebrated as the Global Handwashing Day every year, handwashing has assumed greater significance as an integral part of hand hygiene as prevention against COVID-19. This year, this is being observed together with White Cane Day for visually impaired persons, International Day of Rural Women, and Women Farmers’ Day.
Today’s activities included taking a pledge on changing behaviours around handwashing, learning and teaching the right technique and demonstrations as well as discussion on advancing and improving the overall water and sanitation situation.
Across cities, communities which the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) supported by Water for Women Fund and Australian Government works with have taken the pandemic head-on. They have trained fellow members in the right handwashing technique (for 20 seconds with soap and water), developed posters and wall messages, motivated peers to spread the message, and even set up foot-operated, affordable, locally crafted handwash stations.
Women SHGs are producing handwash and liquid soaps, and awareness activities are being undertaken by community management committees (CMCs), Single Window Forums and Help-desks which are aimed at empowering communities and supporting them in realising their entitlements and rights, thereby achieving greater self-sufficiency. These collective initiatives are part of the principle of ‘Leaving No One Behind’, and consist of an inclusive approach towards women, girls, men, the elderly, persons with disabilities and transgenders. They, along with local leaders, frontline workers pledged today, “Badlein hum apna vyavahar, sabun-pani-haath dhona karein sweekar.” (Let us change our behaviour and accept handwashing with soap and water).
Ms Akhila Sivadas, Executive Director, CFAR, said “In the midst of the pandemic, our biggest hope is the resilience of the communities living in informal settlements and their collective reminder to everyone that without equitable access to water and sanitation it is not possible to fight the virus. The Global Handwashing Day is as much about social inclusion and universal right to water and sanitation as about strengthening safe practices, especially for the most vulnerable.”
Community voices
Several community members from Odisha expressed their determination to follow and teach correct handwashing techniques. “We feel that it is very important to observe this day everywhere and by everyone, but it should not be restricted to only one day. We should follow the steps of hand-washing every day. This is more important, particularly during this time of pandemic,” said Kabita Kinner, a transgender from Bhubaneswar.
Another transgender, Muskaan Kinner said, “I was not aware about the eight steps of handwashing. I am very happy to learn this today and will follow the steps regularly while washing my hands.”
“I go out more frequently for work and begging and I always wash my hands after coming back home. It is very important to observe such important days and will make everyone more serious about the importance of hand washing,” said Lilly Kinner, a transgender from Bhubaneswar.
“I had never taken hand washing seriously before, but with this pandemic and fear of transmission of virus, handwashing has become a regular practice. We are thankful to CFAR for organizing such a programme here and making all of us collectively take pledge on hand washing regularly”. Miki Kinner, Transwoman, Pallaspalli.
“We realized that hand washing is a necessity and can protect us from virus” Jyoti Nayak, Rasulgarh Sabar Sahi. “We are celebrating Global Hand washing today in our Basti, and we have followed proper hand-washing steps,” said Silpa Nayak from Rasulgarh Sabar Sahi.
“I feel responsible in maintaining health and hygiene of my family. Hand washing is a necessity and I have realized the importance more now,” said Ranju Das, Single Window Forum Member, Rasulgarh Sabar Sahi.
“We wash our hands regularly, but it makes me feel more responsible to observe the steps, while we are doing it collectively today” Manju Lata Sahoo, Single Window Forum Member, Baliapata.
“Observation of such events in our basti makes our children more responsible and to take the hand-washing practices more seriously,” said Rekha Jena, Baliapata.
“I am not able to see, but I feel clean after washing my hands,” said Karani Nayak, a visually challenged woman from the Blind Association.
“Every day is a struggle for us, but we understand that washing hands can keep us free from germs and viruses and help us be disease-free,” said Rabindra Kumar Dalai.
“We teach children to wash their hands regularly, but observing the Global Handwashing Day today makes the practice more important for the kids,” said Sanjukta Pal, anganwadi worker from Janata Nagar.
“We enjoyed observing the day today with our children in the center,” said Pratima Lenka, anganwadi worker from Janata Nagar. “Along with handwashing, we also told people how to save water and not waste it. Children realised its importance and assured us that they would not let anyone waste water,” said P.Latha, Sideswarberna, Sambalpur, Odisha.
“In the last month’s we were told only about wearing a mask and washing hands, but this is the first time I learnt about the steps involved in handwashing,” said Raju, a 10-year-old participant from Ambedkar Nagar, Sambalpur.
“We realised that our hands our mouth and our nose can infect us and others. By protecting ourselves, we are also protecting our family,”-said Rita, an eight years old girl from Tainlapada, Sambalpur.
“Only after Coronavirus, there is so much attention on handwashing everywhere. Last year when the team from CFAR visited to our settlement and told us about handwashing, we thought what was so difficult about handwashing. After learning it, we were able to stay safe and educate others too,”- said Ms. Bindu, MSC member, Dumerpada.

October 18, 2020 • No Comment