The Mali Wash Project
There’s an old piece of folklore in Mali, West Africa that goes like this:
“If you use soap to wash your hands, you’ll wash away your wealth.”
How this locally funded project started
Medical Missions Foundation and the Wash Project are trying to change that story with a simple message: washing hands with soap saves lives.
The Wash Project was founded by Kansas City musician and Medical Missions Foundation volunteer Barclay Martin who initially funded this program with his tip jar. Led by Barclay, the Wash Project now includes cooperation with 18 local schools, student ambassadors, local female entrepreneurs, and the annual Wash Cup tournament. The project has grown to support hand washing among more than 7,000 children in Mali.
Each year, diarrheal diseases and pneumonia together kill 2 million children under five in developing countries. Children from the poorest 20 percent of households are more than 10 times as likely to die as children from the richest 20 percent of households. Hands are the principal carriers of disease-causing germs: if widely practiced – and based on scientific research and intensively monitored trials at both household and school levels – it is estimated that handwashing with soap could avert one million of those deaths.
Washing hands with soap after using the toilet or cleaning a child and before handling food can reduce rates of diarrheal disease by nearly one-half and rates of respiratory infection by about one-quarter. Handwashing can also prevent skin infections, eye infections, intestinal worms, SARS, and avian flu. It can also benefit people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Wash Cup
The Wash Project has quickly expanded through ” one of the planet’s most enduring passions – soccer (football, to the rest of the known world)”.
Each school participating in The Wash Project puts together a soccer team, and its very first year the Wash Cup brought hundreds of spectators to its sidelines.
Not only do children in the schools participate, but adults come to watch the matches, as well as the children who weren’t able to attend school. At each match, the message of handwashing with soap is repeated.
In the four years since, it has become one of the most beloved events of the year in Ouelessebougou, with tournament-goers now in the thousands, coming to enjoy the spectacle and receiving the message for which it was named.
Make the difference with just a few dollars
$5 | Buys a hand washing station (plastic kettle and basin)
$5 | Covers a Wash Club t-shirt worn by the young ambassadors of the Wash Project
$40 | Purchases new soccer balls for annual wash cup tournament
$200 | Pays for one month of the women’s soap making cooperative