Hygiene training and nutrition support are making a life-changing difference for children on a remote island in the Indian Ocean.
Sioe’s father works as a carpenter while his mother farms. Even though the crops are poor and the yields meager, this is how most people sustain themselves.
But last year, change began as local churches partnered with Samaritan’s Purse to meet some of the island’s pressing challenges. Among the greatest needs is health and hygiene training.
Isolation and poverty have kept many essential hygiene practices—such as handwashing—from everyday life. Yet, these activities are among the best defenses against countless diseases, especially those severely impacting children.
In schools across the island, our teams are now sharing this knowledge with children like 10-year-old Sioe.
“I Am Sioe”
“I am Sioe.* My father is Arief* and my mother is Netra,*” he told us. “Before attending the [hygiene] training, I didn’t have knowledge about personal hygiene and also my parent didn’t know as well. I remember that I often took a bath without using soap—just poured water on my body and scrubbed my skin with my hands—that was good for me.
“I used to go out without slippers or shoes since it was common practice among children in my village, and I thought it was fine. No one gave me the information to live healthy in my daily life,” he explained.
Infection from the soil, through bare feet, is a common way children contract worms on this isolated island and in many parts of the world.
“So I Will Be Healthy”
“Then the health education started in my school,” Sioe continued. “I learned how to take care of my body: I have to wash my hair regularly with soap or shampoo, I have to take a bath and use soap to make me clean, I have to brush my teeth to keep them healthy. I also have to wash my hands with soap to prevent infection. I also learned prevention of diarrhea and worm infection.”
Sioe then began to take his newfound knowledge to his family. “I asked my parents to buy sufficient soap so I will be able to wash my hands frequently and for bathing,” he said.
“I took care of my slippers and my feet, so I will avoid worm infection. I always remember the things that I learned from [the team] and try my best to practice it so I will be healthy. Thank you for your hard work. I personally really appreciated your efforts to make us understand about health.”
Simple Lessons, Big Impact
These simple lessons in handwashing, teeth brushing, nutrition, and even wearing footwear to protect against parasites are having a life-transforming impact on families like Sioe’s. Already 648 children have received this important training on Sioe’s home island.
In a survey of children, knowledge of clean water use and hygiene increased from almost nothing to over 25 percent in the last year. With support like yours, our teams plan to keep teaching these lessons for at least another two years.
Healthy and Strong Through Nutrition
We are also working to address malnutrition among children, another serious concern on the island. With seeds, tools, and training, our teams are equipping families to grow crops that are plentiful, resilient, and highly nutritious. Some children at particular risk of malnutrition also receive food supplements, such as boiled eggs and mung bean porridge, to give them an extra boost toward health.
Among nearly 800 children being helped through these nutrition initiatives, the number of boys and girls suffering from nutrition problems dropped by 22 percent over the last year. We praise God for what He is doing on this remote island that is largely overlooked by the rest of the world. And best of all, He has opened the door to share the Gospel with 70 people.
Please keep praying for these families and our teams working to reach them with help and hope in Jesus’ Name. Your prayers and support make this life-changing work possible.
*Location withheld and name changed for security