In late September, Clean the World set out on a Global Volunteer Experience trip to Mexico in conjunction with Children International. We spent two days in the city of Guadalajara, teaching proper hygiene education to accompany the 15,000 bars we distributed.
Clean the World and Children International have a partnership to provide children across the globe with consistent, long-term access to soap. “Access is only part of our hygiene solution,” said Lily Dimling, director of programs for Clean the World’s Global Soap & Hygiene Initiative. “Understanding when and how to use the soap turns it into a powerful tool to fight disease and illness, which is why we emphasize hygiene education on our Global Volunteer Experience trips.”
Longtime supporters and patrons Alisa J. Faulk, Kris Vos, and Ann Nelson accompanied the Dimling along with Clean the World’s Veronica Shivers and Paul “Doc” Skomsky. These women work in the hospitality industry, coming from the Hyatt, Marriott and Renaissance companies. They experienced the full lifecycle of the Clean the World program, from the everyday collection at their hotels, to touring and volunteering at our recycling facility, to delivering the recycled soap to children in need.
The whirlwind trip was Clean the World’s first visit to Guadalajara. Our group visited a primary school, a high school, and two Children International community centers, including the Tlaquepaque Community Center. Guadalajara is the second most densely populated area in Mexico. The urban city has areas of dire need where Children International steps in to help.
The Clean the World group received a warm welcome at each location, interacting with 100 to 300 children during every visit. We shared the importance of hand washing in a fun and interactive way. Our Global Volunteer Experience volunteers dressed up as Super Aqua (water) and Super Jabón (soap). They came dashing into the room full of children, showing their strength and power, using teamwork and friendship to fight the “germs,” portrayed by the rest of the Clean the World crew.
We recruited children to stand with us in front of the group to sing “Happy Hand Washing” to the tune of “La Bamba.” Doc managed to find a guitar at every location and strummed the chords of the song, which engaged the children. The song is to remind them how long they should wash their hands. When they are done humming or singing the song, they will have washed their hands twenty seconds. “It was a very special feeling giving the mothers soap,” Doc said. “These mothers manage on such limited resources, and it is important to all of us to keep our families healthy and clean.”
We also brought basins of water to demonstrate proper hand-washing techniques. Children washed their hands while team members provided guidance and let them practice doing it correctly. The children loved getting involved and showing off their new skills in front of the group. Their biggest surprise was looking at how dirty the water was when they finished. They all were very excited about our visit and promised they would take what they learned back home and teach their families about proper hand washing.
It is important for us to instill the fact that hand washing is the simplest way to prevent the spread of disease, infection, and illness so the children can lead healthier lives. However, we gained so much as well. “The children hug you; the moms hug you. It was a truly uplifting experience,” Doc said.
Each Global Volunteer Experience is an opportunity for Clean the World to spread the love. We show children and families that no matter where you are from or how you live, each person’s health and well-being is important. Please join us on an upcoming trip to see how Clean the World’s recycled soap changes lives around the world.
After all, the global hygiene revolution starts with you!