Lucknow As soon as the bell announcing recess rings in the government-run English medium primary school in Karanpur area in Behjam block in Lakhmipur Kheri, the students queue up in front of the lone hand pump on the school premises.The soap bank at the school ensures that all the students wash their hands before having mid-day meal.Nearly all 3,856 schools in Lakhimpur Kheri now have a soap bank where visitors, parents and other stakeholders are urged to donate new or used soaps whenever they visit the school on special occasions.Over 5.19 lakh students of state-run schools of the district are benefitting from the initiative.Abhay Pratap Singh, a student of class 4, says, “It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes for all the students to wash their hands. There are so many soaps here that no one has to wait for long.” “It is quite a fun as we all queue up to wash our hands,” Rishab Mishra of class 5 says.“Witnessing the collective hand-washing in school by tiny tots is very exciting. No one misses a single hand-washing step and all the children have lunch with clean hands,” says principal Mahendra Pratap Singh. “The practice has now become a habit. Now, they do not even allow their family members to have lunch without washing their hands,” he adds.District magistrate, Lakhimpur Kheri, Shailendra Kumar Singh says if we are able to inculcate the habit of hand-washing in children, it will become a part of their lives.“In this way, they will also be able to educate their parents about the importance of hand-washing and bring about awareness about hygiene in their areas,” he adds.Chief development officer Ravi Ranjan and basic shiksha adhikari Buddha Priya Singh supported the concept of soap bank.“We have been encouraging various stakeholders to donate soaps for hand-washing and organising community rallies by children,” says Singh.The situation is no different at the primary school in Hasnapur in Behjam block. Mohd Nazim and Rimjhim, both students of class 4, are of the view that they have made hand-washing a habit. Principal of the school Kamlesh Verma says, “We organise rallies and soap mobilisation camps during special celebration at school and community level.”The soap bank idea was first generated through a brainstorming session, organised with support from UNICEF. Initially, the idea was tried and tested in two schools which were inaugurated by the CDO in Lakhimpur Kheri.The idea picked up momentum and 1 lakh soaps were donated at different places.“In schools, the students were informed about the importance of hand-washing through games and the idea of soap bank was seeded. A rally was also organised in the community for collection of soaps. The idea was so successful that four other districts – Bhadohi, Kasganj, Jaunpur and Badaun – adopted it,” says wash officer, Unicef (UP), Ananya Ghoshal.