Himalayan High: Handwashing & Hygiene in the Hills

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

Since its inception in 2017, Soap Cycling Singapore has been supporting more than 20 student groups on their overseas community involvement projects by providing soaps for their WASH (water, sanitation & hygiene) programmes. Last December, a group of SMU (Singapore Management University) Lee Kong Chian scholars came together for its ninth instalment of Project Neora to help villagers in the Neora Valley of Northern India. The students were there for three weeks to carry out various activities aimed at improving the villagers’ economic, social and educational standards.

They conducted hygiene workshops for children and equipped adults with the practical knowledge of ensuring sustainable hygiene practices for their families. They also reached out to homestay owners by encouraging them to adopt higher standards of hygiene in their services.

“With SCSG’s support, we were able to reach out to a wide group of people and introduce affordable and practical means of maintaining hygiene. We introduced the most basic tool to maintain hygiene – soaps! It was heartening to see the children enjoy using the scented soaps to wash their hands before mealtimes. Each recycled soap bar contributed to a cleaner home in the village."

- Juhi Agrawal, head of sponsorship for Project Neora IX

"We conducted hygiene lessons to the kids, emphasising the need to wash their hands before every meal. Just before our group left the valley, I saw quite a number of students busy washing their hands before they dived into their lunch, and that was when I realise we made an impact, however small, with the help of Soap Cycling."

- Teo Heng Kai, member of Project Neora IX

Our soap bars also recently reached another part of the Himalayans, to a small remote village nestled in the mountainous region of Jiri in central Nepal. Ishwor Sunuwar who is part of Good Friends Nepal (GFN) distributed the soap to the children and young adults in his village. GFN is a local charity that does outreach work to underprivileged families, with a special focus on improving education and health services to children and the elderly. Ishwor also brought the soaps for distribution in another village, Kafle (Ramechhap district), a two-hour drive away on the rough terrain. “Many households here don’t use soaps,” he says. “They just wash their hands with water and this can lead to a lot of health problems especially among the younger children.”

We are glad we were able to do our small part in helping his organisation improve the lives of the families there, especially children, and will continue to work with him to provide soap on a more long-term basis.