Sunday, July 30, 2017
“Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.” ― John Wesley
Before we moved to Africa, Karen and John were both trained by a group called Lifewater out of California to teach sanitation and hygiene. Since we have been here, we have taught (often with the help of American mission workers like Martha McCandless and Amy Buckingham) almost forty-five of these three-day seminars, both here at the mission and in the villages. Some workshops were taught in churches from Mwanza to the Kenya border and some in old cotton storage buildings and wherever we could gather the people together. Some of the things covered are where to put the latrine, the fly cycle, nutrition, how to rehydrate babies with diarrhea, and how to keep hands and bodies clean. We forget sometimes, that almost none of the people living around us have showers or running water. Almost everyone has to get water from wells and bring it to their homes in buckets. Some homes have wells, but they still have to draw the water up in buckets on ropes.
Here at the mission we have four showers and three are available for our workers to use, but we tell them and then forget. This culture is a very, very polite one, so our workers will not use the showers without express permission. Almost a year ago now, one of our workers came and asked to use one of the outdoor showers to get clean before he went home. Of course he could, but why did he have to ask? We looked at each other, and Karen said that she was going to fix things—and she did. She had a big meeting for everyone who works here, staff, teachers, aides, and cooks. Shaban translated and Karen taught about cleanliness and how important it is. Everyone wanted to be clean but just didn’t have the facilities to make that happen. Karen showed them the showers and told them they didn’t have to ask, just to use them when they needed them. Then, my beloved went a step further. She provided each one with free soap, clean towels, and free deodorant. Not only that, she told them that the towels would be washed daily and the soap and deodorant replaced as soon as it ran out. All of the workers were so very happy, laughing and thanking her for teaching them—and the gifts. She was as good as her word and the showers always have new soap, shampoo, clean towels, and deodorant.
Now, every day every worker takes at least one shower. Some at the end of the day, some at the beginning, and some in the middle. One even takes one in the morning and another at night. They are all happier and feel better about themselves for what cost us almost nothing. We had known that they didn’t have running water—we just didn’t think it through to realize what that meant to them in terms of showers and towels and soap. It takes so very little to change lives, and we are so blessed to be reminded by God that we can help. We have been kicking ourselves for not doing this sooner and regularly but that doesn’t help, and we will have workshops on a more regular basis now for our workers and for parents and others who want to come. If you have a gift and don’t use it for others, you are not next to Godliness.