Friday, July 1, 2011

The Tippy Tap Health Education Project

The cute kids at the slums washing
their hands after we built the Tippy Tap
Tippy Tap Project

According to UNICEF an estimated 1.5 million children die annually from diarrhea related issues. A large portion of these deaths occur in the country of India. The WHO estimates that everyday nearly 1,000 children die from diarrheal diseases. Nearly half of these deaths could have been prevented through the use of soap. Unfortunately, It is not the lack of access to soap, but the lack of understanding about the importance of proper hand washing, germs, and soap that contributes to the problem.
In the slums, these have limited knowledge and access to adequate health education. As a result, their idea of hand washing is ineffective being that it is simply rinsing hands in the still water filled with bacteria and in some cases worms. This allows for the transmission of deadly bacteria that is either in the water or not effectively scrubbed off with soap. In addition, our  project will also be addressing the transmission and prevention of other infectious diseases such as TB, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, etc.
I am so excited for this project, especially after being there in the first place to build soilets which led to, "What happens after the use of the soilet? How do they wash their hands?" We saw no soap there at all and I had noticed that some of the children had sores on their faces. The kids here are the most energetic happiest and most thoughtful children I have ever met and very polite. All of them come and shake our hands and the little boys will go pick flowers to give to us while the girls just want to grab my hands and pull me along with them everywhere! What really got to my heart though was when these two little sisters who had stayed by my side the whole time started to give me their toys to take with me. I was so humbled, these girls have absolutely nothing and yet, they were willing to give me their toys. I couldn't accept them and I told them I would be back and to keep them until I came back and we could all play with them!

I want to do everything I can to help these children and families! We were guided to the organization SAPED who is working on these particular slums and they had done a lot of work on the square foot gardens, another project of ours. It had been introduced to this organization a few years back and they have already built 5,000 gardens with a goal to build 10,000 in the next few years. This is why we are so anxious to introduce the Tippy Tap and Soilet idea and teach them how to build and maintain these for sustainability. SAPED,  works primarily in the slums surrounding Hyderabad, India. We are hoping that by introducing the tippy tap to this organization and it is implemented it will help to reduce the number of diarrheal deaths as well as other preventable diseases occuring in the slums. One of the best parts about the tippy tap is that anyone can make it because it is made of sticks, string, a plastic container, a nail, and a match.
The kids were so excited to have clean hands!

After building our first tippy tap as a pilot study to assess the best way to educate the residents in the slums in response to reducing deadly diarrheal diseases, our team realized that we needed to go beyond just building the tippy taps to educating these individuals and families on the basic healthy hygiene practices.
This is where our health education project came in to play. For the remainder of our time here, we will be partnering with SAPED in conducting health education classes for the residents within the slums.  Some of the educational material includes, germs, germ transmission, proper hand washing techniques, how to build and maintain a tippy tap and diarrheal as well as other infectious easily transmitted diseases.  
During the process of holding these education classes we will be training local health leaders to hold theses health education classes to the point that they are able to confidently carry the remaining classes out while we are there supporting and evaluating the progress and needs of our project. By the end of this project our goal is to have SAPED to be able to sustain and continue to train health educators on this project and who will then have the skills necessary to educate other rural areas throughout India in building Tippy Taps and holding the health education classes.

The reason I am so passionate about this is that diarrheal and other infectious diseases are completely preventable!!! By simply washing and scrubbing your hands with soap and water. All we need to do is educate these amazing people about germs and why hand washing is so important and their health and capacity of life will improve drastically!
Here is the Tippy Tap Video on how it easy it can be made and how many lives it can save!

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