Hygiene learnt young will protect you for life

The focus is still on cleanliness in today's article, which marks week 13 in an informative series that gives readers a glimpse into Othandweni, a home for abandoned and other vulnerable children.

Othandweni, isiZulu for "place of love", is run by the Johannesburg Child Welfare Society.

Situated in Mofolo, Soweto, Othandweni caters for 90 children. Their ages range from newly born to 18.

Teaching, encouraging and taking good care of 90 adventurous and energetic kids is a challenge but, with the help of dedicated caregivers, it is manageable.

Urging the children to take precautions and lead healthy and hygienic lifestyles comes with its own set of difficulties, but teaching them the simplest things when they are young ensures that they will grow up to become well- groomed young people.

As can be expected, the children hear plenty of messages, such as "wash your hands", or "put your laundry in the laundry room".

Nkuli is a 10-year-old from Othandweni's cottage two who seemed not realise the importance of hygiene when she was younger.

When she was six and told to wash her hands she would run from the caregivers.

But now she needs no reminders and quite enjoys washing her hands.

Such precautions prevent the children from contracting diseases that could be life-threatening but are preventable when a cleanliness regime is adhered to.

Tomorrow is the start of the Sixteen Days of Activism against Violence against Women and Children.

This year's theme is "Let's protect the rights of women and children to safety".

l This series is the result of a nation-building partnership of Sowetan, Othandweni and Dettol.

It encourages Sowetan's young readers to adhere to a cleanliness regime. A simple precaution like washing your hands after using the toilet helps avoid preventable diseases.

Dettol is giving away prize hampers worth R500. To win one, SMS the word Dettol to Johannesburg Child Welfare Society on 38008.

An SMS costs R10, of which R5 will be given to Johannesburg Child Welfare Society.