Clean hands do make a difference

Posted on October 29, 2011 by Global Mission Support

The Rev. Deborah and Joe Troester are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, Central African Republic. Joe is a technical adviser for PASE, which provides clean drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation to villagers. Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua. Their daughter, Christa, attends ninth grade at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon. To support the Troesters, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to

Marie Gbayina pours water for Rodrigue Koulagne to wash his hands.

Marie Gbayina pours water for Rodrigue Koulagne to wash his hands.

October 15 was Global Hand Washing Day.  Why have a day dedicated to the prosaic act of washing one’s hands? Hand washing holds the key to preventing many serious diseases both at home and around the world. Remember when your mom told you to wash your hands before eating? It was good advice.  According to the International Water Institute in Stockholm, diarrheal illnesses could be reduced by 45 percent by washing hands with soap after using the toilet and before eating. Many other diseases can be passed from one person to another by people who don’t wash their hands. Hand washing is an important defense against the spread of cholera, typhoid, and even the common flu virus, among other diseases.

PASE, the Water Management Project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic (CAR), is working to provide clean drinking water to villages in CAR and also to teach good hygiene practices to villagers, such as the importance of hand washing. Providing clean water is only one part of preventing water-borne diseases. Hand washing is a crucial element in the equation.

This year PASE will be constructing latrines and hand-washing stations at schools and health centers in CAR in order help the “hand washing habit” take root.

Joe Troester