As the collaboration between SSI and the Colorado School of Public Health continues, I conducted a handwashing and food safety workshop at the Leadership Academy. The workshop addressed hand hygiene, food safety concerns and foodborne illness; topics students’ face every day. This workshop empowered SSI students, encouraging them to teach this valuable information to the community. Leadership Academy students and alumni who attended the workshop ranged from 18-23 years of age with varying fields of study, including nursing, law, electricity, mechanics, English, finance and banking, informatics and technology, and sales and marketing. A total of 31 students and alumni attended this skill building workshop!
While Cambodian food security is based mainly on agricultural production and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is responsible for overseeing the agricultural products as they enter the food chain, the ministry provides limited monitoring and surveillance activities. Lack of food safety oversight could lead to illness caused by food poisoning, affecting students’ educational experience and overall achievement. To help participants understand their role in food safety, the objectives of the workshop were:
The World Health Organization’s Five Keys to Safer Food were used as the educational framework for this workshop. The five keys include 1) Keep clean, 2) Separate raw and cooked, 3) Cook thoroughly, 4) Keep food at safe temperatures, 5) Use safe water and raw materials. As a part of the training a poster with this information was downloaded from the World Health Organization and provided to each participant.
We used several additional materials to effectively deliver the messaging and to enhance participant engagement, some included; visual aids such as a powerpoint presentation, videos on the five keys core message and proper hand washing, Glow Germ gel, a giant plush E. coli bacteria, and disinfectant liquid. The Glow Germ gel was used to help participants understand the importance of thoroughly washing their hands and apply the skills of proper hand washing. Glow Germ is pretty neat stuff, if any gel is present after hand washing, a UV light will show the areas on the hands or wrists that were not washed properly. The UV light was also used to look for surface cleanliness, and overall hygiene practices. These demonstrations gave participants a more practical understanding of germs and what it means to have good hygiene practices.
To help students understand how to teach the information and skills acquired, they were separated into 5 groups and assigned a food safety key for which they would give a presentation on to the rest of the group. These presentations were given in English so they could practice English skills at the same time. Also, to evaluate food safety knowledge, attitude, and behavior for each of the “Five Keys to Safer Food”, an evaluation form from the World Health Organization’s Five Keys to Safer Food was used. Students reported back on this form in the second half of the training one week later.
In the second half of the workshop, the students disused the evaluation form and actively participated in preparing a snack to eat while watching a movie. Every student had a role in safe food preparation whether it was to wash, cut and/or serve the snacks. This activity was done to reinforce core information, demonstrate skills and discuss rationale behind these practices. Considering the barriers and limitations of the workshop, the knowledge gained from this workshop was high impact, as it was intended.
It was a privilege for be the facilitator this event. I want to thank Mr. Chomnan and Mrs. Susan for engaging the students and for assistance at the workshop. All the students are inquisitive and persistent humans with great potential. I strongly believe the support that the academy provides to each one of these students is invaluable because this does not only have a positive impact in their life, but it also translates in unimaginable ways to their community. All of this is just a reflection of the years of hard work SSI has done and their involvement with the community. This would not have been possible without them!
"What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it." ~C.S. Lewis
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