GLOBAL HANDWASHING DAY: Salesian Missions highlights water and soap projects
Salesians ensure water access in communities around the globe.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 15, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins the international community in celebrating Global Handwashing Day 2023. The day, organized by the Global Handwashing Partnership, is celebrated each year on Oct. 15 and is dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of hand-washing with soap.
This year’s Global Handwashing Day theme is “Clean hands are within reach” and highlights the progress that has been made around hand hygiene commitment and action in recent years, while also calling for more concerted efforts to ensure hand hygiene targets are met.
According to the World Health Organization, millions of young lives could be saved with access to bar soap and hygiene education. Pneumonia and diarrheal disease are two of the leading causes of death among children under 5 years old. Hand-washing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent these diseases.
Operating schools and programs for youth in more than 130 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries are on the front lines providing what youth and their families need most. Salesians are able to ensure that clean water projects happen in communities that lack water access and that soap donations make it into the hands of those living in conditions of poverty.
“Clean, safe water and access to soap are important now more than ever,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Salesians are working to improve water access to ensure teachers and students are working and learning in an environment that promotes proper hygiene. This reduces the number of waterborne illnesses that can affect those in our schools, keeping them away from important study time.”
To mark Global Handwashing Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs that ensure youth have access to clean water and soap.
Two communities in Ghana have access to clean water thanks to funding from the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” Funding provided for a borehole with a hand-pump in the Kojokesekrom community. The community has 700 residents and 300 people who come to the area to farm but do not live there. The project also provided a mechanical borehole with a water tower and spouts in the community of Chiraa for 340 students, staff and Salesian sisters. In addition, 30 families are also benefiting from this new water access.
The Sisters of Holy Family of Nazareth started Holy Family of Nazareth School in Chiraa in 2015. The school has eight classes from nursery school to grade four. The school is located in an undeveloped area and is isolated. The nearby community did not have stable water access. Until this new project, the school had to rely on a stream, which wasn’t a safe water source.
A Salesian missionary said, “We have come a long way. Our daily headache of searching for water has come to an end. This is particularly important with the COVID-19 pandemic. It was difficult for people to wash their hands when we didn’t even have water to drink. We are grateful for the donors who made this new water source possible.”
Women and children in Salesian communities in Haiti have access to better hygiene thanks to a soap donation secured by Salesian Missions. The shipment of soap was from Eco-Soap Bank, a humanitarian nonprofit organization working to save, sanitize and supply recycled soap with hygiene education for the developing world.
The Rinaldi Foundation, the Salesian Planning and Development Office in Haiti, received the soap and distributed it. The first distribution was held on Mother’s Day 2022 to honor the mothers in the community. Salesians chose to prioritize mothers for the first distribution and included soap in the bags that were given out at church. The soap was utilized for hand-washing, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, and other uses.
Soap was also provided to children and older youth who are attending Salesian programs and schools including Fondation Vincent, Don Bosco Lakay OPEPB (the Little Schools of Fr. Bohnen), and the Salesian Diocesan Center of Arts and Trades (CDAM).
More than 2,000 people in the Salesian São João Baptista de Moatize Mission, located in Ntsungo, Mozambique, have clean water access thanks to funding from the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.”
The region, which is home to more than 8,000 people, lacks access to health services and clean water. It only has one primary school. Among the beneficiaries, 60% percent are women and 40% are men. Most of the communities have many children and older youth.
With the funding, Salesians were able to drill a borewell, install solar powered pumps and create a water system with three plastic tanks with a capacity of 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) each. Water is channeled to the communities and to the primary school. Water fountains were also set up in the communities so that people could access the water.
Youth with the City of Hope in Lusaka, Zambia, have soap and furniture thanks to donations received by Salesian Missions. The soap donation was provided by Eco-Soap Bank.
Sister Mary John, who is in charge of City of Hope, said, “We received the donation of soap and then distributed it to the sisters, pupils, workers, teachers, women, youth, different congregations and those around the Salesian community. The furniture we shared with our Salesian schools in our community.”
She added, “The donations of soap and furniture have been very useful, and the quality of donations is excellent. Hygiene will always be a priority matter, and the furniture helps us further enhance our learning environment and facilities used by our staff and students.”
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