This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report from Kenya (edited for clarity, as needed):
Welcome to the School
At the center of the Maragoli Community of Western Kenya in Matsigulu Village of Chango sub-location, North Maragoli of Sabatia of Vihiga County, Matsigulu Friends Secondary School takes pride in the beautiful Mother Nature surrounding her. Just from the school gate, one can't miss seeing the large field full of spectacular rocks on which students play during break. There are mushroom-shaped igneous rocks protruding from the other end of the field on which students especially like to play.
Matsigulu Friends School was founded as a community institution in 2010, and it now has a total population of 200 students, 10 teachers and five support staff. Since its beginning, enrollment growth has been at a snail’s pace. The slow growth is due to the impoverished condition of parents who struggle to put food on the table at the end of each day, let alone to pay school fees. "Most students still have arrears. However, when we continuously send them home, some end up as school dropouts since the parents are too poor to afford this little amount we ask them to pay here," the school principal, Mrs. Lydia Eunice Amara, explained. Despite these hurdles, the school has evolved to be what it is today: "We have three classrooms, but one has been partitioned into offices and a laboratory. The remaining two classes serve form three and four students while the form one and two students use borrowed classes in Matsigulu Primary School to cater for the shortage," she added.
The government through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is currently building a multilevel building to help make room for a library, offices and classrooms since the entire school only owns 0.12 acres. There is a temporary kitchen where meals are prepared for teachers and students. This wood-walled facility needs expansion and improvement, as it is not meeting the standards required by the ministry of education. Despite her humble beginnings, the institution is already competing with well-established, large schools. For instance, the Matsigulus (as her students are commonly known) are respected in athletics, making the kids popular in this region. "Our children are hardened to excel beyond the sky due to problems and poor terrain, which makes them flexible and fit. Climbing hills, rough roads and having to work on their small farms over the weekends and holidays makes them so strong to the extent that competing in athletics becomes like a hobby to our students. They can also do well in other games, but we lack coaches," said the principal.
The school depends on Wandigu Spring, a half kilometer away. "Sending our students to the spring has come along with challenges. For instance, boy-girl relationships and several immorality cases have been reported. Even parents and other outsiders have complained a lot about deterioration of our students’ character observed at the spring and along the way as they go for water," commented Miss Anjere Ruth, a teacher at the school.
The walk to the spring also wastes much of the students’ class time, which has a sustained effect on academic performance. In an attempt to solve the problem, the school bought a 4,000-liter plastic water tank to help keep students in school throughout the day, but this has not made a tangible difference. Therefore, students still fetch water from the spring to add to what is available in the tank.
The path to the spring gets very slippery when it drizzles, making students slip and fall. A trip to the spring revealed it all: the way to the spring is so steep that students have to literally stop themselves from running as they approach the water point. The reverse way is so tiresome that the boys have to work in turns to carry the 20-liter jerrycans, and then pass them to girls who ferry it back to school. Mr. Patrick, a utility teacher on board, observed the struggle that these students go through and was moved. "I sympathize with our students so much. Teachers have complained a lot about students taking much time to collect water from here but today I have witnessed for myself that these students do donkey work indeed," he shared. He also shared sad stories of students who were sent to fetch water but because of the bad terrain, they fell while carrying water on their shoulders back to school. They ended up sustaining injuries and the containers were destroyed.
Matsigulu Friends Secondary School does not have latrines of her own, save for two doors serving the teachers. The secondary students here must cross over to the primary section to share their simple pit latrines. And yet the primary school alone has 500 pupils! Queues at the latrines during breaks waste much time, as students are often much later than the 15-minute break will allow. With these combined populations using the same latrines, it is obvious Matsigulu Friends Secondary School is in dire need of new facilities.
Teachers have one hand-washing facility for themselves, and a more temporary water container solution has been improvised by students. The sanitation standards in the school are still low.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
Training will be held for two days. The facilitator will use PHAST (participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation), ABCD (asset-based community development), CTC (child to child), lectures, group discussions, and handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good practices within the school. The CTC method will prepare students to lead other students into healthy habits, as well as kickstart a CTC club for the school. This CTC club will oversee the new facilities, such as hand-washing stations, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The two hand-washing stations will be delivered to the school, and the club will fill them with water on a daily basis and make sure there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.
Plans: VIP Latrines
Two triple-door latrines will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will be given to girls, while the other three will be given to the boys. With these latrines of their own, secondary students won't have to share with primary students.
Plans: Rainwater Catchment Tank
A 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will help gather the needed construction materials such as sand, rocks, and water for mixing cement. In fact, they've already begun the process. The principal said, "Please help us; we brought here these materials to show you how serious and ready we are to partner with you to help our school. We are already looking for the remaining materials." Once finished, this tank can begin catching rainfall that will be used by the school’s students and staff. Students will no longer have to make the treacherous walk to Wandigu Spring.
We’re excited for this project to become a reality so that students and staff can focus on education. There will be an adequate source of clean water at Matsigulu Friends Secondary School! We expect that health will improve and absences will decrease.