January, 2020: Shichinji Primary School Project Complete!
Shichinji Primary School 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.
Sanitation Teacher Madam Ellah stands in excitement with the new rain tank
Construction for this 50,000-liter rain tank was successful!
Parents, staff, and students, with the combined efforts from the area Member of County Assembly (MCA), Mrs. Gladys, mobilized all of the local materials and in a period of just 1 week, they were ready for implementation.
"What a man can do, a woman can do even better," said one field officer in praise of Mrs. Gladys' contributions to this project.
"The MCA in this ward has really tried to bring positive changes in the area. Her term in the office may come to an end but the mark she will leave in the lives of these young ones in this school will remain to be remembered forever. She has gone a long way in helping this school to mobilize the locally available materials and ensuring the construction process went smoothly and swiftly. I once said and today I will repeat that leaders are not made, but born. Mrs. Gladys is indeed a great example."
Students, artisans, the area Member of County Assembly, and community members helped deliver water and all construction materials for the project
All the while, the school cooks prepared 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. Our team commended this school for their terrific support and welcoming treatment of the artisans from start to finish.
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.
Setting the rain tank's foundation
Then, we cleared the site: excavating the soil within the required measurements to make level ground for the tank foundation. The foundation was cast by laying hardcore on level ground and then reinforcing it using steel, concrete and waterproof cement.
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.
Busy at work cementing and plastering inside the tank
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.
Artisan affixing the manhole cover on the rain tank's dome
Once finished, the tank was given 3 to 4 weeks to undergo complete curing before it was cleaned and handed over to Shichinji Primary School, though we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. Upon its completion, the school administration extended their thanks and appreciation to our team for helping their school reach this important milestone.
"The new water point has brought happiness to the entire school population," said Sanitation Teacher Madam Ellah.
"We are all optimistic of better results in both sectors involved in the school. The health of both beneficiaries of the project will positively be improved and this will result in many good tidings. Our core value to perform better will be achieved within no time. Thank you for remembering our school!"
Students and Madam Ellah give thumbs up for clean water in front of the rain tank
This project funded the installation of 6 new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, half for girls and half for boys.
Girls pose in front of their new latrines
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.
Boys pose with their new latrines
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.
Girls line up to wash their hands
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.
Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school principal and Head Teacher Mr. Andrew, who together helped ensured that the training date would be convenient for students, staff, and parent representatives. Individual teachers helped by selecting students from each class to represent the others.
Despite being an exam period, the turn out for the training was amazing with 28 students. Even the teachers who were busy marking the completed exams spared their time and fully attended the training. The training was held in one of the classrooms within the school compound. The day's weather had a little sunshine and a little cool air, making a perfect mix of climates for the training.
Facilitator Jacklyne Chelagat leads training
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. 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.
During the entire session, all participants remained active. Many would ask for clarification and voice questions where they felt they did not understand something. The teachers were so active - an indication of the great interest they had in the project, which is a good sign for the facilities' longevity.
A student demonstrates proper latrine usage in a hygiene session
During our discussion on responsibility and participation, everyone was eager to understand why they were tasked with the responsibility of bringing gravel from their homesteads to the school for the project. We explained that since they each had a hand in the work and sourcing of materials, we hoped they would feel ownership of the project and take great care of it. One pupil, Collins, made everybody laugh when he stood up and said since he brought more gravel, he should be allowed to use more water than the rest of the students. The teachers present concurred with him as he was spotted to be the best in mobilizing materials, but that the water would be shared equally across the student body. Everyone enjoyed a good chuckle over this.
Learning the 10 steps of handwashing
The handwashing session was so interesting as mastering the steps was a bit challenging for some participants. Some students requested the facilitator to repeat the steps until they all mastered it, and indeed they did. As a student health club, they all promised to sensitize the entire school to this and the other hygiene practices we covered throughout the day.
All smiles after training
"People perish from lack of information, but for us at Shichinji Primary, suffering is not going to be our lot," said Sanitation Teacher Madam Ellah proudly.
"We are more than conquerors in terms of uplifting better sanitation and hygiene standards. Our health status is going to be positively affected with this new information and that will automatically enable us to perform much better than previous years," she said.
Thank you for making all of this possible!