LUOSHUI is a remote township in Yunnan Province in the People’s Republic of China, approximately a three-hour drive from the nearest major city, Kunming. Its junior high school, covering a catchment area of 10 villages, educates nearly 1,400 pupils. Around 310 students are classified as ‘under-privileged’, while 540 are left behind by parents who have had to leave their homes in the village in order to go and work in the cities to sustain their income. The Salvation Army has been building a relationship with Luoshui Junior High School since December 2019, and when its Principal made contact to outline the challenges being faced in light of COVID-19, The Salvation Army’s Yunnan office was eager to assist.
Following constructive discussions with the Secretary and Mayor of Luoshui Township government, and building on the disease-control measures already implemented by the Chinese authorities, The Salvation Army team identified a number of ways that the partnership could be built on to improve health education and hygiene measures. It is in this context that a project is now underway in conjunction with the Yunnan Association of Social Organization, the Luoshui Township government and the junior high school itself.
The Small Hands Holding Big Hands initiative seeks to enhance COVID-19 awareness among children and the wider community. Salvation Army-branded hygiene packs are distributed to every student, including soap, face masks and information about how to quash the spread of the disease. Clear information is presented by teachers on how to wash hands and wear the masks correctly.
The health education message is being further promoted through an in-class COVID-19 poster competition. Following teaching on disease prevention techniques, the young people were encouraged to design their own culturally-sensitive artwork in order to share the messaging in a vibrant, colourful, context-appropriate and persuasive manner. The best posters are displayed around the Luoshui Junior High School premises and out in the neighbouring community.
The Salvation Army’s partnership has equipped the school with contactless thermometers, in order to take the temperature of students arriving at school with minimal waiting time. A supply of 20 thermometers is being provided, along with hand sanitiser gel. The sanitiser is available for use across the site, to improve hygiene before and after meals, and after visiting the toilet.
Older people in the community are also being cared for, with The Salvation Army being able to distribute around 100 of the epidemic-control bags to elderly people and those with disabilities who would otherwise be less able to access such provision.
Working through the school community, it is estimated that nearly 7,000 individuals will be reached via this health promotion activity in cooperation with local partners.