H2O for Life partners with Waterlines to implement WASH projects in Kenya. Recently, Mark and Diane Reimers visited Kenya on behalf of Waterlines to complete a sustainability check on projects. While there, they took a moment to interview several students about their lives, and the changes in their lives due to access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene education.
Kiminanga School in Kenya
Mark and Diane Reimers, representing Waterlines and H2O for Life recently visited WASH in Schools projects in Kenya as part of a yearly site visit to Waterline’s projects. While visiting Kimananga School, teacher Lisa, helped conduct an interview with students. Mark and Diane talked with Edith Chentutai Class 6 and Aaron Kipyegon Class 6.
Edith and Aaron enjoy reading and playing futball when they are not in school. They are required to fetch water for their parents and family, Edith from a family of 8 members and Aaron from a family of 7 members. They pick the water from dams about 20 minutes away and carry the containers by hand or on their heads. The water is boiled for drinking and used for cleaning around the homes. Edith washes clothes every day for the family. It is much easier now that the students have access to water through a rainwater catchment system with a storage tank located on the school grounds.
Edith and Aaron spoke of another job that is unfamiliar to students in the United States. They “smear” the classroom floors and also their floors at home. The reason they “smear” is to control chiggers (mbuiukik), cockroaches and fleas (kimitek). If they do not smear, “the insects are too many.”
The mixture used for smearing consists of water, soil and cow dung. It is mixed in a basin by hand and then is smeared on the soil by hand or smeared with a broom.
Students have learned to pick up all rubbish and use a rubbish bin and a burning pit, and have learned to keep their classrooms clean. The Health Club has taught the other students about dust bins and picking up rubbish in each of the classrooms and on the compound. They dug a pit and they burn the rubbish there. They have planted trees and other bushes to make the place beautiful and to make oxygen for good breathing. The tank makes watering the plants easier.
Maurine Chelangat Langat – class seven and Nelly Chepngeno – class eight were asked to describe the toilets. The old toilets were “dangerous”. They could not be cleaned and had flies even though they put ashes in them. During rainy season they were muddy and slippery. They were afraid to use the toilets. When they needed to make a “long” or a “short” visit they would go back in the bushes behind the school. The new toilets can be cleaned easily with a brush and disinfectant. The floor does not get muddy. Maurine said; “We must teach the younger children how to use the toilet.”
Chemutai Stacy and Kigen Robinson are in Class eight. They described their job of filtering all the water through the bio-sand filter. Chemutai said; “Up to 2 years ago we were to bring water to school.” They went to the dam to get the water and carried it to use for drinking, washing and smearing. Sometimes the water for drinking at home was boiled. Sometimes it was not! NOW they may bring water to school (or get from the tank) and put it through the filter and take the clean, safe water home. Their containers now take good water home for use. The classes rotate days when the filtered water will go home. The students relayed that they are responsible at different times for cleaning the bio-sand filter. They clean the diffuser plate, carefully handle the algae layer, remove the top layer of sand to a basin where they use 2 liters of water, 3 times to wash the sand until it is clear. Then they place it back in the filter, add algae and the diffuser. The filter is now ready to work.
To be effective the bio-sand filter must be active. According to the teachers, keeping the sand filter active on the weekends and during school breaks “is not a problem.” There is always someone on the compound (this school appears to be quite open and the community feels welcome.) Waterlines had been told by Tenwek that some schools have rejected the bio-sand filters because it requires constant attention.
Tenwek Hospital, through Waterlines funding provides Child to Child training workshops for the headmasters and teachers, and often groups of student leaders. The training focuses on sanitation and hygiene education for the schools.
QUOTES from the Head Teacher Joseph K. Ngeno
“C-C (child to child) workshop and teaching AND the recent Head Teacher training is of great benefit. There is a great understanding throughout the school.
We have newcomers to the school because the students want to come to a place that is good.
The school is a resource center now; a place of interest. We thank Waterlines, H2O for Life and Tenwek because we are not what we used to be.”