Water Blogged

Givogi project

Posted by Steve Hall on October 22

Friends Primary School Givogi in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their rain tank, which has the ability to collect 50,000 liters of water. We installed new latrines for students, handwashing stations, and we trained students and staff on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. All of these components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Here is an update from our implementing partner, The Water Project.

Rain Tank
Construction for this 50,000-liter rain tank was successful! On the first day of the materials mobilization, a huge truck made its way into the gate of Friends Primary School Givogi. Everything was at a standstill with the entire school and the community members wanting to know what the truck was carrying. The truck then stopped at the assembly and both the driver and the turn boy got out. No sooner had they opened the truck when everyone assembled around them. There arose pomp and dance in the school as they saw bags and bags of cement being offloaded from the truck. The joy was so immense that the teachers could not contain the pupils in their classes!

After offloading, everyone assisted in carrying the materials and storing them in the staff room. The next day, 4 young men alighted on motorbikes at the school gate with heavy masonry tools on their backs. The school again turned to a frenzy as they knew their dream of owning a water tank was closer than an inch. They welcomed the young men and ushered them into the head teacher’s office. As they made their way they were greeted through the windows by the excited pupils. On meeting with the head teacher and the Board of Management Chair, they stated their mission in the school and very quickly the head teacher started assembling the unskilled laborers as the Chair organized for the required tools that included the spades, jembes, and the wheelbarrows. Parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction to complement their delivered materials. All the while, women cooked meals for the artisans, and the school provided accommodations for the artisans during their work. Local women and men helped our artisans with their manual labor, too.

The process officially began with our staff and school administration looking around the school compound to try and determine the best location for a new rain tank. This needed to be the best site with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater. This school has a very small compound and it took a lot of combined efforts to agree on the site, which was close to the kitchen. Then, we cleared the site: excavating the soil within the required measurements to make level ground for the tank foundation. By 4:00 pm everyone was so exhausted and they retreated to the Chair’s home for rest until the next day. Just before they left, hot ugali (cornmeal porridge) and omena (small fish) were awaiting them in the library. By the way they ate, it was very clear that they were hungry as no one talked with anyone but his own plate!

The next day the foundation was cast by laying hardcore on level ground and then reinforcing it using steel, concrete and waterproof cement. Then it was time to take a break and drink tea with boiled maize and everyone loved this moment most as evidenced by how they quickly washed their hands and settled down. Both the drawing pipe as well as the washout pipe were affixed as the foundation was laid. The wall was built with ferro-cement techniques through 6 layers. The inner wall was plastered while rough casting was done on the outer part. Finally, the catchment area was dug, plastered, and a staircase installed.

The project was progressing well and everyone was happy. The pupils happily brought in water each morning as they came and as demand for it rose according to the construction process. The cook continued serving the artisans with delicacies each day ranging from ugali, meat, chicken, kales, mixed beans and maize, mandazi (fried bread), tea, and porridge.

Dome construction could begin after the superstructure had been given enough time to settle. The manhole cover was fitted, inlet pipes were connected to the roof gutters, inlet screens, ventilation pipes (breathers) and overflow pipes were all done to standard. Heavy rains came through after the dome was constructed, however, and washed the plaster away so the artisan had to redo it the next morning. Once finished, the tank was given time to undergo complete curing before it was cleaned and handed over to Friends Primary School Givogi School, though we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. With the rain tank and latrines complete, the school looked totally different.

The celebration was a great chance for us to acknowledge the school administration and students as the primary parties entrusted with the tools we’ve given, as well as remind them of our continued support as they develop. The school had organized for their official handing-over ceremony to happen on a Sunday after church when the school’s sponsor, the Friends Church, would be around for the joyous occasion. “Like a dream” was the phrase we kept hearing throughout the group in attendance at the celebration.

“I must say that this is still a dream in Givogi that we have our own – I mean our own – water and sanitation facilities,” stated the Board of Management Chair while smiling. The head teacher, Mr. Francis Mukagati, was so happy that his school now has safe and clean drinking water right in the school’s compound. To him, it seemed like a dream come true to have the water tank built. Teacher Mr. Clement Masika, the student health club patron, also agreed.

“When [your] staff came to this school last year, precisely 1 year down the line and stated that they will put up for us a water tank and sanitation facilities, I must say that I saw it as a dream and longed for that moment simply because we wasted a lot of learning time when we sent learners to get water for cooking, drinking, and cleaning in the past,” said Mr. Masika.

“During the afternoon lessons after they had brought in water, no lessons were fruitfull as [the] majority of the pupils would doze throughout the session while stating that they were tired. I used to dread handling the afternoon classes knowing very well that I was merely speaking to myself. Now, this is a thing of the past and we look forward to even better performance in our next examinations. I also handle hygiene issues in the school and we were limited in the past due to lack of water. Thank you – long live.”

VIP Latrines
This project funded the installation of 6 new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, half for girls and half for boys. All of these new latrines have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and clean. And with a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean. Previously, the sanitation situation was so wanting at this school that the girls shared the latrines with the female teachers and this was one of the greatest challenges for the girls.

“I used to fear to go to the toilet and meeting the teachers on my way out of the latrine. I also had to be very cautious while using [them] so that I never soiled the latrines. At times I would hold [it] until I got home for lunch and relieved myself at home. On such occasions, I would run very fast as soon as the bell rang even if the teacher had not left and one day it got me into trouble. The teacher said at the end of the lesson, ‘When the bell rings I want to see Stella. My God that day I ended up urinating on myself due to fear. I will never forget this day,” added Stella.

“Now we have 6 latrines of our own and I cannot fear to go to the toilet any more as my path with the teachers will never cross again,” Stella said while smiling.

Handwashing Stations
The 2 handwashing stations were delivered to the school and handed over to the student health club. These were placed outside of the girls’ and boys’ latrines to encourage handwashing after latrine use. Health club members teach other students how to properly wash their hands at the stations, make sure the stations are filled with water, and work to ensure that there is always soap or ash available.

New Knowledge
Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school principal and Head Teacher Mr. Francis Mukagati, who together ensured that the training date would be convenient for students, staff, and parent representatives. Mr. Mukagati then gave Mr. Clement, the teacher in charge of sanitation in the school, the task of organizing teachers to help select a representative group of participants from the student body.

Children are agents of change. By focusing on school-aged children, giving them tools and knowledge to change behaviors today, future generations will be better prepared to care for their families and their communities’ health and environment. Therefore improved hygiene practices in this school like handwashing will be very essential in blocking the transmission routes of water- and sanitation-related diseases. The excitement of the whole school about the water project was so immense and the greatest challenge that resulted from this was the selection of the participants for the training as all the pupils wanted to be part of it, especially the young ones. It took a while before the situation calmed and the selected few, feeling so proud and walking with shoulders high, entered the training venue and the training began.

We covered a number of topics, including personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, and handwashing with soap as a barrier from germs; and operation and maintenance of the new facilities, with each person understanding their role for long-lasting clean water and good health. Handwashing was picked up easily and the pupils could not wait to try out the new handwashing stations in between class breaks. The new student health club will be greatly involved in project management and will be responsible for encouraging good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community.

The health and hygiene education training was aimed at instilling in the children good practices that will help to prevent water- and sanitation-related diseases as well as promote healthy behavior amongst the children. The combination of WaSH facilities, correct behavioral practices, and education are meant to have a positive impact on the health and hygiene conditions of the community as a whole, both now and in the future.

Within this session, we covered dental hygiene, which was a one-of-a-kind topic with this group. The students actively participated and from their curriculum knowledge in science subjects, they seemed knowledgeable on the facts about dental diseases, causes, and prevention. Through brainstorming the topic was handled with learners chipping in the best of their knowledge about the subject. Demonstrations were also done by both the boys and girls and finally the facilitator on the best ways of brushing our teeth. The most memorable moment was when one of the boys volunteered to demonstrate how he brushes his teeth. There arose cheers and applause to him.

“I believe he is one of the class heroes!” said facilitator Karen Maruti.

When he removed the toothpaste he forgot to close the tube’s lid and everybody burst out laughing, but at this point, their hero thought that they were applauding him and he started brushing his teeth up and down while smiling. The funniest thing he did was, he forgot and swallowed the toothpaste instead of spitting and this made the class laugh even louder. Thereafter the student health club secretary also demonstrated while being so cautious and finally the facilitators wound up pointing out the issues they had overlooked.

Under personal hygiene, the facilitator took the participants through the concept of personal hygiene. They all agreed that one needs to bathe at least twice per day, keep fingernails short, wear clean clothes, brush their teeth after every meal, and keep their hair kempt. The teacher asked everyone to show their nails and surely all the pupils had cut their nails short. This was a good aspect of personal hygiene. However, when she asked those who had not showered that day to stand up, one pupil stood up and everyone burst out laughing. It turned out that he was absent-minded and had not understood the question. This lesson was a good one that it is always good to be attentive in class!

“I am very happy today as the president of the student health club, as in the past I struggled with coming up with hygiene and sanitation issues to train the club. Now the training has enriched me with a lot of information and I am [full] with WaSH facts that I can’t wait to [share it] in our next…meeting. I am confident that this will go a long way in improving our hygiene practices, hence [creating] a healthy community [at] Givogi. Thanks our good people and may the Lord bless you,” said 11-year-old Paul Gwirana.

Thank you to the following for making all of this possible!
Daniel Webster Magnet School, NY
Environmental Science Course, NY
Henderson Hammock Charter School, FL
St. Joseph Catholic School, TX

 

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