Unleash the changemaking power of employees

Washing hands is essential - the current pandemic teaches us that proper body hygiene can protect us from contamination and disease. However, not every country has the right infrastructure and not every person the right knowledge for personal hygiene.

 Becoming a changemaker

Isabelle Buschulte has been active in Nepal for several years. Through the internal Bag2thefuture competition under the umbrella of Making More Health (MMH), she supported the region around Himalaya to prevent rabies together with her colleague Frederik Grünenfelder. Within their social entrepreneurial activities, the two Boehringer Ingelheim employees have noticed further local issues: "Knowledge of hygiene is not widespread. Improper washing of tableware and food storage puts people in contact with germ-contaminated water, leading to disease. These diseases will then be transmitted within families because there is insufficient knowledge of personal hygiene."

To reduce this risk, especially in the COVID-19 crisis, the two colleagues implemented a WASH program in Chepel. In cooperation with the German NGO "Friends of Chepel" and the local partner Splash Nepal (Prabhav Nepal), 400 people have been already reached. For the first time, the village community has clean drinking water, a 2500-liter water tank for storage and new sanitary facilities.

A poke for better hygiene

WASH starts in schools where small groups of students are trained in hygiene measures. They then share their knowledge with their families and, in the next step, teach other students - a sustainable system, which provides a holistic multi-purpose. "It was very important to build on existing infrastructure and to cooperate, especially at the local level. The WASH approach has already proved its worth in many areas, but each community has its own challenges and realities", so Isabelle.

WASH training in Chepel

Boehringer Ingelheim supported this commitment. Part of the income from the annual influenza vaccination drive for employees was donated to the project. A win-win-win for everyone - the people on the ground, the partners, and Boehringer Ingelheim.

A sustainable ecosystem of change

Due to the tremendous success of the pilot project in Chepel, the WASH project is now being implemented in two additional sites in Nepal, reaching almost 2000 people. The aim is to build a sustainable and holistic ecosystem on the ground, which will also help the population in other areas: "People in the region would benefit enormously from a Veterinary and Human Health Post. People could be trained as social workers and veterinarians, which would create new jobs and improve living conditions on the ground. By strengthening the economy, social problems such as rural depopulation, etc. could also be addressed", so Frederik.

The project has been met with generous popular support. Initiatives such as WASH, which implement such concepts in remote regions, are often lacking. The entire project was realized with around 5,500 euros - a comparatively small sum, which has brought a huge improvement in the living conditions of an entire village. Thanks to the outstanding commitment of our colleagues, it is possible to achieve sustainable social change.