South African children have set an official new Guiness World Record for the most number of people washing hands at one location, but a simultaneous event in India attracted more than eight times as many students.
About 15,000 students from 23 schools in Chennai converged under the blazing sun in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to celebrate Global Handwashing Day and break the previous record held since 22 October 2008 by Bhiddwa School Niketon of Dhaka, Bangladesh with 1,213 participants.
The programme in Chennai began almost an hour late. Luckily, the dignitaries kept their speeches short. Large screens placed in the stadium aired demonstrations on how to wash hands.
Soon after the speeches, the whistle blew and the children got into the act. They had bubble bottles, soaps and paper napkins all in place. And in less than 10 minutes, the event was over.
Though the children liked the idea of coming together and assembling in the stadium, the scorching heat posed a problem. “Our teachers insisted that we came, otherwise we would not have bothered about this,” said a group of children from a Corporation high school.
On the other hand, some students were really excited to be part of the event. “We knew that we are going to be part of a record-setting event. Despite being a bit tired, we find it great to be here,” said Saravan and friends from a school near Choolai.
The students were brought together by the government, World Health Organization and Lifebuoy to promote the habit of washing hands as a measure to prevent disease.
At the same time in South Africa, local rugby hero Bryan Habana and 1,802 Gauteng schoolchildren were staging their own record breaking attempt.
Habana is part of the Gimme 5 for Germ-free Hands campaign led by Protex, an anti-bacterial soap brand, owned by Colgate Palmolive. The campaign has visited more than 1,200 primary schools throughout the country. On Global Handwashing Day about 1-million children from schools around South Africa washed their hands under the auspices of the brand.
The South African was officially recognised as a Guinness World Record by adjudicator Carl Saville, who flew out from the UK for the occasion.
Source: Indian Express, 16 Oct 2009