Here are the signs going up in villages around our region, thanks to the countries of Dubai and the Americans. I laugh every time I see one.
Of course it is meant to promote hygiene. I see small kids relieving themselves anywhere, but generally I don’t see adults doing that, unlike Ivory Coast. Here they go off the path and in the woods, at least. This is a clean village trying to promote good hygienic practices to stop “pooping freely outside” the sign says.
The idea is “use the outhouse”, and wash yourself with the kettle of water… They can’t afford toilet paper so here they use this plastic kettle of water to wash themselves off with their hand. It is actually very clean and hygienic, saves trees via no toilet paper. However, it is only hygienic as long as you wash your left hand very well with soap and water afterwards. Problem here is that I have never seen soap in a village bathroom, as pictured in the image. Rarely do you see people washing their hands with soap after pulling duty.
This is why we do not greet people, handle food, or pass money with our left hand; all are an insult. It’s the unclean hand.
The only time a person greets with the left hand is when we expect a good friend to be gone a long time. Doing this left handed goodbye indicates that I “accidentally” made a serious relational insult, and now you must return quickly so I can make amends for my indiscretion and get this relationship right again. It’s a way of saying we will miss you, and come back soon, we pray.
Anyway, the only question I have about this sign is, is this an insult to Malian sensibilities to have signs like this up on their village along the highway? I know my Malian friend was uncomfortable when I brought attention to the sign, and even more uncomfortable, (and dumbfounded) when I took a picture of the sign.
I told him that for me I found the sign funny because it was slightly insulting, and displaying an image like that on the public road sign around my village, to me, is embarrassing. The hygiene being taught is good, but the sign seems a bit much for me. But, hey, I guess where I am from, kids are not dying from preventable human diseases. Better to go overboard with the message than not have it in the public attention at all.
Hygiene is a serious issue in this country….
Remember this message : wash your hands…. a lot… and sterilize all veggies and things you buy at the market, as almost no one washes their left hand with soap. Think about that when they hand you that double handful of lettuce…
Just saying. The sign still cracks me up.