Peace Corps Volunteers Use Handwashing to Teach Better Hygiene

Simple training provides sustainable solution to avoid disease

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 20, 2011 In commemoration of Global Handwashing Day on Oct. 15, 2011, Peace Corps volunteers worldwide encouraged community members to use soap and water to wash their hands, a simple, yet sustainable way to improve hygiene and avoid disease.

Below are two examples of handwashing and personal hygiene projects from Peace Corps volunteers:

Magnifying glass icon Peace Corps volunteer Alicia Portillo is in the process of building a handwashing station with recycled materials at a local primary school in Mozambique.
Peace Corps volunteer Alicia Portillo of Modesto, Calif., is in the process of building a handwashing station with recycled materials at a local primary school with 1,500 students. Portillo and local children are collecting plastic bottles that will be filled with sand and used in construction as an alternative to cement blocks. She will also be teaching lessons about hygiene and recycling.


Magnifying glass iconPeace Corps volunteer Megan Farmer with local community leaders in front of a handwashing station in Togo. Peace Corps volunteer Megan Farmer of Temecula, Calif., has been working with local community leaders to construct latrines and handwashing stations in eight primary schools. Farmer, a girls education and empowerment volunteer in northern Togo, funded the project through the USAID Small Projects Assistance (SPA) program and includes trainings with students and parent teacher associations.

Peace Corps health volunteers help local communities meet basic public health needs through education and awareness. Heath volunteers provide access to safe drinking water, distribute bed nets for malaria prevention, educate communities about HIV/AIDS, teach sanitation measures and more. Even though Peace Corps volunteers are not medical care providers, they provide the skills and training to help keep communities healthy and safe. Today, 22 percent of Peace Corps volunteers work in the health/HIV sector.

Magnifying glass iconA Togolese girls uses a handwashing station. About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit for more information.

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