June, 2020: Friends School Vashele Secondary Project Complete!
Please note, all photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into effect.
Friends School Vashele Secondary 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 75,000 liters of water! We installed new latrines and handwashing stations for students, 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.
Students high-five over the completion of their new rain tank
"Personally, I am sure I will not be missing coming to school because of the safe water from this known source," rejoiced pupil Sarah referring to the rain tank.
"I will also have enough time for studies since I will no longer have to go for water outside the school compound. The time spent between teachers and students will increase, translating to better performance of the school and to each an individual student. Now that the time wastage is minimal or nonexistent, I will utilize that time to get good grades."
Teachers were just as excited as the students about the new rain tank on campus.
"Water here has been a challenge before; our students had to go to wash their plates in a borehole in a primary section. This amounted to time wastage because of the long queues at the borehole as the borehole is also used by the community members," said sanitation teacher Raphael Wanja.
Sanitation Teacher Raphael Wanja
"Access to reliable, safe water will impact my life greatly. One, I will be sure of the source of water I am using. Secondly, I will have a lot of time to interact with my students and that will mean covering the syllabus on time and good performance for my students in the long run. I will know areas that need more attention from me and I will be able to tackle it within the stipulated time."
"I have also learned the importance of water conservation. It was not until you constructed this huge rainwater harvesting tank that I realized the need on my side. It has pushed me to have a plastic tank at my home for harvesting water to at least save on time and energy wastage going for water at a distant place."
Students first bump to celebrate the new water source
"Also, hygiene and sanitation in the school will be greatly improved. Being a sanitation teacher, the availability of water will ensure good hygiene practices in school are adhered to."
While Kenyan schools remain closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these new water and sanitation facilities will be ready and waiting for the students' return.
Construction for this 75,000-liter rain tank was successful!
Before schools closed, parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction. All the while, the school cooks and community members 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. The students at this school also put in a considerable amount of work, helping the artisans during the practical sessions of their training.
Artisans help gather and cut wooden poles to size for tank supports
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 enough land and a nearby building with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater.
Students help carry bricks to school for construction
Then, we cleared the site by excavating the soil to make level ground for the tank foundation. The foundation was cast by laying big stones on the level ground and reinforcing them using steel wire, concrete, and waterproof cement. We affixed both the drawing pipe and the drainage pipe as we laid the foundation.
Excavation of the rain tank site
Next, we formed the outer walls using a skeleton of rebar and wire mesh with sugar sacks temporarily tied to the outside as backing. This skeleton was attached to the foundation’s edges so that the work team could start the Ferro-cementing process, in which the walls are layered with cement alternating with the inner and outer side until 6 layers of cement are in place. (We remove the sugar sacks once the interior receives its first 2 layers of cement.)
Cement work begins inside the tank
Inside the tank, we cast 1 central and 4 support pillars to ensure the dome does not cave in once cemented. Meanwhile, we plastered the inner wall while roughcasting the outer walls.
Pillar work inside the tank
Outside of the tank, the access area to the tap was dug, plastered, and a short staircase installed, along with a soak pit where spilled water can drain from the access area through the ground. This helps to keep the tap area dry and tidy.
Students helped with cementing, brickwork, and framing during their practical sessions of training, among other skills; Trainer Jonathan Mutai stands on left
Dome construction could begin after the tank walls had been given enough time to settle. Using similar techniques as used on the walls, the dome started as rebar, wire mesh, and sugar sacks and was attached to the tank walls before receiving cement and plaster.
Students mix cement
A small manhole cover was built into the dome to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.
Long wooden poles (about 75 of them!) were placed inside the tank to support the dome while it cured. A lockable manhole cover was fitted over the tap area, the gutters were affixed to the roof and the tank and an overflow pipe was set in place at the edge of the dome for when the tank reaches capacity.
Roughcasting the outer tank walls
Once finished, the rain tank was given 3-4 weeks to undergo complete curing. Finally, the interior support poles and dome sugar sacks were removed, the tank was cleaned, and we waited as rain filled the tank with fresh water. When there was a sufficient volume in the tank, we treated the water and we officially handed it over to Friends School Vashele Secondary.
Student Moses splashes water at the tank celebration
As soon as it was ready, students and staff celebrated the presence of clean water on campus. The event was a great chance for us to acknowledge the school administration and students as the primary parties entrusted with the tools we have given, as well as remind them of our continued support as they develop. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.
Students enjoy fresh drinks from the tank
The school principal Mr. Atsango was very happy with the new WASH facilities, saying it has greatly facelifted the school. More so, he is optimistic that come next year, the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations will attract a number of students to join the school.
This project funded the installation of 6 new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, half for girls, and a half for boys.
Girls with their new latrines
All of these new latrines have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and clean, locking doors for safety and privacy, and vents designed to keep air flowing up and out through the roof. With a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.
A student poses with the new latrines
The 2 handwashing stations were set up during training 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 will 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 a cleaning agent such as soap or ash available.
Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school principal and sanitation teacher Mr. Raphael Wanja, who 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. When the training day arrived, facilitators Jonathan Mutai and Wilson Kipchoge deployed to the site.
Sanitation Teacher Raphael Wanja (left) and students attend training
28 students ranging from Forms 1-4 attended training, which was done in one of the classrooms. Mr. Wanja also attended. The venue was well ventilated and spacious enough to accommodate all of the participants who had been selected.
Pupils take notes at training
We were expecting about 20 students but it turned a number of Form 4 students were able to attend the training too. They said they wanted to leave a legacy in the school that during their time, the WASH facilities were implemented in the school. Also, they wanted to learn about hygiene so as to be good ambassadors of hygiene practices not only at the school but also in their community.
Pupil Sarah demonstrates toothbrushing
We covered a number of topics including personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, and the 10 steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights; operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations; and leadership and governance. During the latter, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club.
Trainer Jonathan demonstrates how to use a leaky tin for handwashing
Because we held this training when the spread of COVID-19 was still in its early stages and was not yet worldwide, this was not a topic we covered. Since then, however, we have developed trainings exclusively on COVID-19 prevention and awareness - see for yourself what we've been up to more recently as we continue to fight COVID-19 on the frontlines in all of the communities we serve.
Handwashing demonstration with Jonathan
The club will be greatly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at school and will be responsible for encouraging good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community. We involved stretches, dances, and physical activities in between each topic to keep the pupils’ energy up and their minds active. By the end of the training, each pupil understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.
A student leads other pupils in the 10 handwashing steps
One of the most memorable topics was the operations and maintenance of the new facilities. The participants were asked to mention how the rain tank's guttering can be kept clean. One participant who wanted to answer was not able to speak, but she was able to demonstrate it using sign language and motions.
Students learn the parts and maintenance of the rain tank while it is under construction during training
Another special topic was teenage pregnancy. At first, the students felt the topic should not have been part of the day's learning as some were embarrassed and others did not see its relevance or importance to them as an individual. The facilitator made sure to take the time to explain that the issue is one for everyone to discuss and help prevent, as all people know a girl whether she is a friend, sister, or neighbor. After taking much time to shed light on the topic, the students admitted to seeing the importance of covering the topic.
Mr. Wanja, students, and Trainer Jonathan pose for a photo taken by Trainer Wilson
"The training was of great value to me. I learned a lot about sanitation and hygiene. Our hands truly are our lives because whatever we touch, like chemicals or dirt, if not washing our hands well it will impact us negatively. Today, I have learned to be more conscious in whatever I do and I will have a duty to make a leaky tin at my home to aid my family in practicing good hygiene always," said pupil Victor.
When an issue arises concerning the water project, the students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our team of field officers to assist them. In addition, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.
Thank you for making all of this possible!