Time to Wash


A need for hand-washing – and fun. Children at a camp for families displaced by conflict during a No Strings scoping visit to South Sudan, 2015


There are many staggering figures about the difference that hand-washing with soap makes to vulnerable communities around the world, children especially.

In emergency settings, diarrhoea can account for almost half of all deaths – hand-washing has proven to be one of the most critical and effective interventions to stop its spread. But despite its enormous life-saving potential, other priorities – saving water for drinking, for example – can seem more pressing to desperate families, and life-saving messages can quickly lose impact.

In such contexts there’s an urgent need for engaging and meaningful initiatives that inspire people to reflect together and which motivate genuine behaviour change, tools that at the same time can bring a little bit of novelty, activity and teamwork to children or parents likely to have suffered trauma.

Before telling the story of how Time to Wash came about, a quick anecdote from our own history.

No Strings traces its roots to the moment founder Johnie McGlade held up a puppet in a camp for families displaced by war in what was then southern Sudan. It was a bit of a last resort: Johnie, then a humanitarian logistician, was aware that he and fellow aid workers were struggling to communicate effectively with new influxes of arrivals. Seamus had been given to him half in joke by an old friend, but he put the puppet on and was amazed by what happened; crowds gathered around him and listened.

Twenty or so years later and Time to Wash its centered around a fabulous No Strings puppet film that focuses on hand-washing with soap and related WASH issues (water, sanitation and hygiene) like latrine use and drinking treated water. 

It’s set in a rural location and was launched early in 2017 in South Sudan, reaching some of those same communities 20 years on who were affected by war when Johnie worked in the camps they had fled to near the Uganda border.


The need for more informed and consistent hand-washing practices is an urgent one too for communities that may be more stable, but where children grow up entrenched in poverty.


Johnie and Chan

See our workshop in South Sudan…