Soap-and-Water Lessons Bring Health and Help to Some of Asia’s Struggling Poor
WILLS POINT, Texas — A simple bar of soap is making a big difference in the lives of people in impoverished communities across Asia. Distributed by Gospel for Asia-supported (GFA) workers, it is the centerpiece of a hygiene awareness drive that improves the health and welfare of many living on the margins.
While the cleanliness campaign goes on year-round through its varied ministry-supported programs, the organization brings an additional emphasis to it to mark Global Handwashing Day (Oct. 15). The annual event, whose 2018 theme is “Clean Hands—A Recipe for Health,” aims to increase awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way of preventing sickness.
To mark the day, Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported teams across Asia will be holding special handwashing presentations at some of the Bridge of Hope centers they run, and also in local schools and village meeting places.
The events include a special video offering an explanation of how disease can be spread by handling food with dirty hands, and a demonstration of effective handwashing. Participants are given an opportunity to practice the proper technique, and also receive a free bar of soap to take home with them.
Basic hygiene steps like these can reduce sickness, which means families have to spend less of their limited income on medicines, and also lose less work time. According to organizers of Global Handwashing Day, up to 70 percent of cases of diarrhea may be associated with poor food hygiene.
The handwashing lessons are just part of Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported broader healthcare work, which also includes free medical checkups, distribution of water filters, and drilling fresh water wells. These initiatives are in turn part of GFA’s efforts to share God’s love through practical care.
“Frequent sickness only makes the lives of the poor that much harder,” said Dr. Daniel Johnson, leader of the GFA-supported medical ministry. “Yet it is possible to make significant improvements in health by taking some basic hygiene precautions. By sharing these lessons, we want to show people that God loves them and cares for their well-being.”
One Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported presenter told a handwashing class, “To protect from sickness, we need to wash our hands before and after doing any work. Our hands are our future.”
A 13-year-old girl who participated in one of the presentations said later that she intended to use the little money she had to buy more soap for all her family to use.
The presentation even impacted a teacher at one of the schools visited by a GFA-supported team.
“Many times, I ate food without washing my hands,” she said. “But I have learned today that if I wash hands properly before and after food or work I will be healthy. Thank you so much for bringing this awareness among us.”
GFA (Gospel for Asia) has – for more than 30 years ‒ provided humanitarian assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially among those who have yet to hear the Good News. Last year, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,000 wells drilled, over 11,000 water filters installed, Christmas presents for more than 200,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry.