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Now wash your hands

Now wash your hands. I remember the blue on white sign that adorned every basin in every toilet at my school. I was then 5 years of age, on my way to queue outside the dining hall before every meal, waiting to file past the eager eye of a teacher, showing him the palms and backs of my hands to prove their cleanliness. “Dirt under the nails” go and use a brush to clean them and join the back of the queue for lunch. Between my parents, my teachers and society washing my hands became as natural as going to the toilet. Soap was always available for doing so as I'm sure it was for you­.

I remember being in Mara back in 2012 and being in a meeting discussing hygiene with staff and parents at Endoinyo Erinka School. At the end of the meeting a parent rose and declared with passion how wonderful this soap thing sounded and that if it was as good for their children as we said they would support buying this soap for the school. We take for granted the simplest connection between germs and soap and clean water as barriers for disease. What if my parents and teachers had never been told, what if I had never been told. What if you hadn’t been told. Would you have achieved as much as you did at school, would you have been able to attend as much and been ill as little as you were. The answer is absolutely not. You would have faced a disadvantage that irrespective of your potential would have affected your entire childhood and held you back in my adult life. Getting sick from water related diseases, based upon what we see in Kenya would have taken you from lessons, affected your grades and lifelong potential to earn money and look after yourself and your family.

Dig Deep seeks to fill the gaps in knowledge about how to live a healthier life, to increase attainment and attendance in schools in Kenya. Armed with the knowledge and the life skill of hand washing, we are unlocking the potential of students to make their lives and those around them better. It’s in supporting the parents and teachers that we can make sure that this simple intervention so that it becomes as embedded as it was for us for all future generations of Kenyan school children. For everyone to wash his or her hands the time is now.

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