Peace Corps Burkina Faso
Friends of African Village Libraries
September 2011/Revised July 2013
Krystle Austin, Beguédo: 2009-2011; Ouaga 2011-2012
Sabrina Barker, Dalo: 2009-2011
The Story of
Soap vs. Germs
Story about Handwashing
Malik and Hamidou are good friends. They play together
every afternoon, and Hamidou eats at his friend’s house. Be-
fore eating, Malik washes his hands with soap and water. Ha-
midou watches him, but never washes his hands.
One day, Hamidou does not come to school. Malik is wor-
ried, so after school, he goes to his friend’s house. He sees
Hamidou’s mother, Mrs. Kaboré.
Malik: Good evening, Malik. My son is sick today. I hope he
will be better soon and come back to school.
Hamidou is lying in the hangar, his two hands over his sto-
mach. Malik greets him, but his friend speaks with difficulty.
Malik. Thank you, Mrs. Kaboré. Get better soon, Hamidou !
You can ask your parents, headmaster and librarian to build a hand
washing stations in your community. The station will help you re-
member the importance of washing your hands wherever you go. The
necessary materials are not expensive, and the station is easy to make.
Materials needed: a 5 liter water can, a spigot, a knife, some glue
Measure 8 centimeters from the bottom of the water can and trace the
outside of the spigot. With a knife, cut around the hole that you tra-
ced. Put the spigot in the hole and secure with some glue.
After reading the story about Hamidou and Malik, you can do the fol-
lowing activities at home, at school or at the library in order to better
understand the importance of hand washing. You can also share the
story with your parents, siblings and friends.
Hygiene awareness: Experiment with hot pepper
Objectives: Students should be able to:
Understand that most of the bacteria that cause illness are invisible.
Wash hands with soap every time you eat
Purpose: To show that invisible bacteria in your body can cause disease,
just like chili reacts with the eyes.
Materials needed: hot pepper, soap, dish, water
Choose a student and ask him to touch the pepper with his hand. Ask if
the hot pepper is visible on the hand. Ask the student if he would rub
his eyes with his hand. When he refuses, ask why. (NB: If he doesn’t
refuse, stop him!) Offer a little water to the student and have him wash
his hands (without soap). Again, ask him to rub his eye. If he still re-
fuses, ask why. Now provide soap and water to the student and ask him
to wash his hands. Now he will touch his hand to his face.
Explain that while hot pepper on a hand is not always visible, but it is
still dangerous and painful when you rub your eyes without washing
your hands. It is the same for bacteria. They are invisible, but they can
cause illness if you do not wash your hands. When you eat without
washing your hands, your stomach will hurt just like the hot pepper in
the eye. So always wash your hands before eating!
Three days later, Hamidou has not yet come back to school.
Malik goes back to his friend’s house. This time, he sees Mr.
Kaboré. He greets him and asks about his friend.
Mr. Kaboré: Good evening, Malik. Your friend is very sick,
and his mother took him to the health clinic. You can go
there to see them.
Malik leaves the house and goes to the health clinic.
At the clinic, Malik finds Hamidou and his mother. They
greet each other. A few minutes later, the nurse comes to see
Hamidou. He realizes that the two boys and the mother ha-
ve not understood why Hamidou is sick. He attempts to ex-
plain. First, the nurse asks if the two boys wash their hands
Malik: Yes, I wash my hands each time I eat. I even use soap.
Hamidou: No, I never wash my hands.
Nurse: Well, that’s the problem!
Difficult Words and Expressions
Health clinic: where sick people are taken care of
Doctor, nurse: someone who takes care of sick people
Ingest: to swallow, to eat
Germs: a small organism that one cannot see that gives us ill-
Lather: each hand washes the other with a little bit of force to
NB: All the above words and expressions are in italics in the text.
1. What does Malik do each time before he eats? Does Hamidou
do this too?
2. Why does Hamidou not come to school?
3. Does Hamidou get better quickly? Where do he and his mo-
4. What gives us illnesses like diarrhea? Where do we come in
contact with germs?
5. How can we avoid illnesses?
6. How do you wash your hands?
7. The nurse tells Hamidou and Malik to recite the 26 letters of
the alphabet while they wash their hands. Recite the 26 letters
of the alphabet.
8. When should you wash your hands?
9. L’infirmier dit aux enfants de réciter les 26 lettres de l’alphabet
à moment de frotter les mains. Pourquoi ? Réciter les 26 let-
tres de l’alphabet.
Mrs. Kaboré : Thank you very much. We understand very
well now. After today, my child is going to wash his hands
with soap before eating. I do not want him to be sick often.
We have realized that it is very important to wash your
Nurse: You are always in contact with germs. You shake
hands with others; you touch things that are not clean; you
play in the dirt. Therefore, when you eat without washing
your hands, you ingest germs. It is germs that give you ill-
nesses like diarrhea.
Malik: So germs make us sick, and everyone is in contact
with germs all the time. But everyone is not always sick.
Nurse: Good question! Do you know why Malik is not sick,
but Hamidou has been sick for a few days? It is because Malik
washes his hands with soap and Hamidou does not. It is im-
portant to wash your hands with soap, which kills germs.
People who wash their hands before they eat do not get sick
Nurse: It is important to wash your hands well with soap and
water. While you lather the soap, recite the 26 letters of the
alphabet in order to leave enough time for the soap to kill all
the germs. Finally, pour water over your hands to make sure
that you get off all the soap. Now you are ready to eat wi-
thout the risk of getting sick. It’s also important to wash
your hands each time after you go to the bathroom.