We often take washing our hands and access to safe drinking water for granted, without realizing how critical these simple resources can be in saving the lives of others. Children in Cambodia rely on clean drinking water and hand washing to protect themselves from intestinal worms, which infect more than 70% of the country’s primary school children.
In response to such a devastating reality, Helen Keller International teamed up with the Cambodian government to create and implement the national School Health Curriculum project. The project prevents and controls intestinal worm infections among primary school children by educating them about simple, but fundamental, health and hygiene behaviors.
Munineath, or Neath for short, is a 10 year-old fifth grader who lives in a rural village where her parents are farmers. She attends one of the primary schools that receives support from Helen Keller International. Neath’s teacher noticed that she was “very skinny, looking tired, and having a big belly one year ago.” Neath was infected with intestinal worms.
Neath and her classmates learned to take intestinal worm treatment tablets and wash their hands regularly through the School Health Curriculum project. When asked what she learned, Neath said, “I learned many things like the signs and symptoms of infection and what can happen if I don’t take medicine to get rid of it.” She continued, “I received posters and leaflets on prevention and transmission and shared them with my parents and family at home.”
A healthy and dynamic Neath now practices proper hand washing and only drinks water that has been boiled. In addition, she always keeps good personal hygiene, and when it’s time, never misses one important step: a dose of deworming tablets. “I always take the deworming tablet every six months when the school distributes it to all students.”
Since 2009, more than 150,000 students in Cambodia have received education about the treatment and prevention of intestinal worm infections. More than just receiving pills, these children are empowered, educated, and proactive about their health. With your help, we can teach even more children how to stay healthy and prevent diseases that keep students from reaching their full potential.