When we first arrived at Mushuk Kawsay, I spent quite a bit of time walking around the school, observing customs and habits, and making mental notes about what might be useful health education. One of the first things I noticed was the bathrooms, including the fact that there was no soap or toilet paper, and faucets were not readily used before exiting. So, in a February conversation with the director, I brought up the idea of providing bars of soap at the sinks, and then doing handwashing education with all of the age groups. In public bathrooms in Ecuador, especially in rural areas, there is generally not soap or toilet paper, so this situation really is not unusual.
Weeks stretched into months, and in my mind, that type of timing seemed to me to mean nothing would be done, though we talked about it regularly. At the end of April, though, I was asked to help choose soap and toilet paper dispenser for every bathroom. I had thought small, with bars of soap, but the director was thinking bigger, decided liquid soap would be better, and traveled to the city to find someone who would install dispensers.
On the big day, there was a short assembly by the director for all the students and teachers, informing them of the additions to the bathrooms, and reminding them to conserve the products (Push the soap dispenser only one time, Use only small amounts of toilet paper, etc), and then throughout the day, I went to each classroom. With the smallest children, I emphasized how to wash your hands, and then we walked to the bathroom to try it out. It was like a field trip! They had so much fun with it. With the older children and high school, I talked about how to wash your hands thoroughly, but also spent more time on why- what germs are, and how to prevent spreading them. The teachers got involved in teaching the kids as well. One of the teachers said that this is the first school in the area to have soap and toilet paper, so it was kind of an exciting day for them!