We Choose SOAP

Family Pledging


This is a mini public ceremony for as many households as possible in the village that involves a personalised pledge and a physical rehearsal of what they are committing to do – ie. hand-wash with soap.


  • Pen, paper, large board.
  • White tape with logos.



The available household members and neighbours are assembled together, preferably in a place where they can be observed by neighbours and others (e.g., in front of their house, with observers watching).


The Change Agents place the white tape with logos on the ground between themselves and the family/ observers.


They then invite the family to cross the line and join them to take the pledge to choose soap.


The Change Agent questions family members about their normal practice – that is, what they do after using the toilet before eating – to make sure the pledge is specific to their particular context, including reference to environmental cues which might help trigger the behaviour.


The pledge must be written as a contract with other family and/or community members; this provides a licence for others to socially support practice of the pledge.


The wording of the pledge should thus be something like the following:


"I, [name], as member of family [name], promise to myself and my family, to wash my hands with soap at [a particular location, such as ‘our handwash station’] every time I leave the toilet and before serving food to anyone."


The specific wording of the pledge is written down on a piece of paper and a literate family member then reads it back to the rest of the family (if possible; otherwise, the Change Agent reads it).


Each household member signs the pledge and/or creates a handprint, including all children able to do so. The handprints can have a bar of soap drawn within them – or even a soap sticker added. So each member of the family has created an image of their hand holding a bar of soap.


This act has ritual significance; it ties the pledge to their sense of self-identity, and impresses the pledge into memory via the formality and seriousness of the ceremony, which is often outside their everyday experience.


Then one member of the family enacts the behaviour which they have pledged to do in the normal situation.


That is, if it is about after defecation, then they must pretend to use the family’s toilet first.


This reinforces the pledge itself, as well as providing a first example of how to practice it.


The Change Agents thanks the household for their cooperation, and places the white tape with logos across the top of the household’s front door, announcing in a loud voice that this is now a ‘Choose Soap Family’.

Alternatively the circular logo can be used as the basis of making a hanging decoration to be attached to the top of the door. It could be part of a tin roundel or printed onto fabric.



This publically badges the family members as members of an implicit cultural group of hand-washers, to which they have gained membership through this ritual.


The Change Agents then dismisses the assembled group of people.

Additional Posters

During the visit, the Change Agents should try to take digital photos of those members of the community that have pledged their support to the campaign.
They can then drop the photos into the template artwork indicated below and print out simple posters to put around the village showing the people that are now choosing to wash their hands with soap.