News / Africa

Sierra Leone Flashmob Promotes Global Handwashing Day

Dancers perform in a flashmob in downtown Freetown, Sierra Leone, Oct. 14, 2013. (N.deVries/VOA)
Dancers perform in a flashmob in downtown Freetown, Sierra Leone, Oct. 14, 2013. (N.deVries/VOA)
Tuesday is Global Handwashing Day, and Sierra Leone is using an innovative way to promote awareness of proper hand washing to prevent illnesses like cholera and diarrhea.  A consortium created the country's first flashmob to get people's attention.  
In a packed room of about 200 dancers, an instructor explains the choreography they are going to perform as a flashmob on the streets of Freetown.

A flashmob is a group of people who suddenly assemble in a public place, perform some sort of action together, then just as suddenly, disperse... leaving those who watched them entertained, and - in this case - informed.

The event was organized by a network of five non-governmental organizations, known as the Urban WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) Consortium, along with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Water Resources.

Krystle Lai is a behavior change communications expert and the main organizer. She came up with the idea for a flashmob.

She hopes it will spur people's interest to make proper hand washing a daily routine.

"We know people have the knowledge, we know that people know when they are supposed to wash their hands and how they're supposed to wash their hands, but really it's about converting that knowledge into real practice and only then will we see reduction in mortality," said Lai.

According to the World Health Organization, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under age five worldwide, killing 1.8 million children every year.
Experts say half of these deaths could be prevented if people washed their hands.
Lai says the theme of the flashmob is "the power is in your hands."

"We cannot go to each caregiver or mother with a child under age of five, but message we want to spread is that you do have the power, the power is in your hands to change the situation of a child dying from diarrhea and still being sick," she said.

The message is getting through to some people like Isatu Sesay, a mother who watched the flashmob with her two small babies.

She explains in her native Krio language that the event sparked her interest on why it's important to wash hands to prevent disease such as cholera.

Last year, Sierra Leone had a cholera outbreak which took almost 300 lives.  That pushed the government and international organizations to put stronger measures in place to stop it from happening again. Steps included better training for health care workers and more volunteers to do community education programs on prevention, including the importance of hand washing.

The government is also working to improve water quality, says Momodu Maligi, the minister of water resources. He says better water facilities are being built around the country.

"There's an increase in water quality monitoring and testing. The last few years we've had serious cases of cholera and diarrhea. This year, thank God, we haven't had that and I think is a direct result of the increase of the government investment and activities in the water sector," said Maligi.

And as the the flashmob made its way into downtown Freetown, stopping traffic and creating a scene, Lai explained that there's more to come.

A short film is being put together by Concept Multimedia, a local film company, and the Urban WASH consortium, which will include footage of the flashmob and some key hygiene messages.

It will be broadcast around Freetown later in the week.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Isa Davies from: Essex, UK
October 23, 2013 3:57 PM
Not surprising, and its so good to hear Krystle is doing such good and positive things in Sierra Leone. The Ministry now needs to make sure that good, clean water is available for the people to make her cause be more successful. Well done for this initiative. Isa


by: Krystle from: Freetown, Sierra Leone
October 17, 2013 6:28 PM
Thanks for the comments guys. Sierra Leone's Flashmob video clip, produced by Concept Multimedia and mentioned in this article, has just gone live! See here: bit.ly/1c08X5i

In Response

by: Tamu from: London
October 23, 2013 3:46 PM
Hi Krystle I love this. How can I make contact with you?

Many thanks,
Tamu


by: minh from: hanoi, Vietnam
October 16, 2013 12:35 PM
It is a nice action to promote a simple thing like handwashing to happen. It is simple action to make great affect on community.


by: George Fred Bundu from: Freetown, Sierra Leone
October 16, 2013 6:45 AM
Sierra Leone's first flashmob was a real success. The aim was to get away from the usual "match-pass"on occasions. GHWD took this first style. We only people get the massage to wash their hands.


by: John Gordon
October 16, 2013 12:51 AM
Kudos to Krystal Lai, always working hard for Salone.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid