Thursday, October 29, 2015

Help Thy Bushenyi Wash Hands After Latrine Visit

Help thy Bushenyi. Anybody who hails from, or has been to Bushenyi, will testify that it is indeed a beautiful part of Uganda. It has a rich farming environment, good roads that make it easily accessible and the people – though a trifle pompous for my liking, are laid back and easy enough to get on with.

In my travels to the region, I’ve never had what I would call a serious issue - save for the language barrier. But as long as Waitress could click and understand the essentials – cold Tusker Malt Larger, a pack of Sporti, fried pork, hotel, toilet, all was well and I was content.

Driving through Bushenyi and going by the clothes that were hung out to dry, the clean table cloth spread over the breakfast table in the hotel, the neatness of the people, it was enough proof to confirm that they take hygiene seriously. That they shower, spray on some deodorant and wash hands – or so I thought.

According to a survey in New Vision a week ago, and one which didn’t make for encouraging reading, a staggering 80% of people from Bushenyi do not wash their hands after a visit to the toilet or pit latrine.

Just to rub it in and to make the peeps from Bushenyi cringe, I’m going to repeat part of the last paragraph if you don’t mind - a staggering 80% of people from Bushenyi do not wash their hands after a visit to the toilet or pit latrine.

But if they can wash their clothes, present a pristine breakfast table cloth and the rest, why can’t they spare a mere two minutes to wash their hands after having been to the latrine?

So what do they do? After emerging from the latrine with unwashed hands that moments ago were wiping at their bottoms, they simply get stuck into whatever they were doing – arranging the cassava, tomatoes and avocado on the platter of pork that you ordered while shaking your hand without feeling uncomfortable. Really Bushenyi!

The survey does not talk about the 20% who I assume do wash their hands. Where are they? I am tempted to believe that they live in Kampala or abroad, and I hope that during their stay in Kampala and abroad, they came to understand what that contraption in the washrooms called a sink is used for and why people upon emerging from the cubicle, go straight to it and wash their hands.

Not washing hands also answers a few questions. Whenever I was in Bushenyi, I would get a quizzical and bemused look when people saw me at the sink or asking for water after a stint in the latrine to which Waitress, unsure of what was going on would return with bottled water.

She probably walked back into the kafunda and told the rest how Musoga has lost the plot because he’s using 2k worth of bottle water to wash his hands instead of drinking it.

Listen up Bushenyi, washing hands does not require a BA from Makerere! Even a UPE drop out can muster it. Simply open tap, wet hands under water, lather hands with soap, rub hands together until clean and then rinse.

In the picture posted alongside the survey, it showed a group of schoolgirls standing by a borehole while NWSC Official gave them a demonstration. The look on their faces was one for Discovery Channel - if not, a Kodak moment in National Geographic magazine, as they marvelled at how easy washing their hands was.   

But I am not going to let Bushenyi go to the dogs. I am not going to ignore it either. I am so not! As a patriotic Ugandan, it’s my mandate – yours as well, to help those who have lost their footing and drag them back on par with the rest of the nation. It should be part of our individual social responsibility to make an effort to drive down to Bushenyi and show them what they need to do.

I will be in Bushenyi next week holding free public lectures on hand washing. After the lectures, soda and mandazi will be served but with one proviso - you can successfully demonstrate to me that you have learnt and can wash your hands. Cool?

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