On Saturday I had the opportunity to return to Kiuyu Village in Micheweni District to participate in the Global Hand Washing Day event that the Millennium Village Team was putting on in collaboration with local leaders.
I arrived in Kiuyu along with Ruwaila, Malim Omar and Ahazma (the MV team) at about 9:30am after stopping to pick up some soap for the event as well as some delicious savory fried dough balls that we ate along the way. Ahazma brought her whole family along too, including her two young boys, her nephew, her sister and her housekeeper….It was a full car.
Ruwaila had drawn up the poster for the event with basically depicts three characters in the form of drop of water, a bucket full of soapy water and a hand all linked together as if they were holding hands. The event was being held at the local secondary school, and after hanging the poster and getting all the children seated, we were ready to start.
The program began with a prayer, then an introduction by Ruwaila followed by a recitation by one of the boys talking about how important cleanliness is to the Islamic religion. Then, 5 boys came up from the audience to do a roll play emphasizing the importance of hand washing, especially after going to the bathroom and before eating. A couple other short speeches were given regarding (from what I understood from Ruwaila’s translations) the proper hand washing procedure, etc.
A couple of really interesting facts that I found out through the discussion was that according to their religious beliefs, you’re not supposed to blow on food to cool it down because carbon dioxide can enter into the food and cause severe stomach infections…..this explains why when patients at the hospital eat their porridge in the morning to cool it down they pour it from one cup to another, back and forth, in order to bring down the temperature. Ruwaila also said that a long, long, long time ago, it was customary for an entire family to wash their hands in the same basin of water and then for the youngest member to drink the wash water. It was seen as some sort of fortifying medicine. It in some ways reminded me of the bleeding of patients in early western medicinal practices….a behaviour that probably caused the EXACT opposite of what it was intended to do.
On the way home, Aazma and Ruwaila spotted a banana salesman by the side of the road and asked the driver to pull over. Ahazma bought a gigantic bunch of plantains, which are usually cooked when ripe with coconut milk and cardamom. Ruwaila bought a gigantic bunch of small bananas which are just for eating and thanks to Ruwaila’s bargaining power we got some medium ripe ones (like the ones you find in the US) as a snack for the trip home. Man….I have to say these bananas taste NOTHING like those found in the US. Not only are the sweeter, but their flavor is also much more complex. Even the color of the fruit is diffrent. Instead of the white that we’re all used it, it’s a creamy yellow, almost custard color.
It was a great way to spend the morning and although I don’t know if I’ll make it back to Kiuyu during my time here in Pemba, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet the community.