November, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Kamins Muteshi
This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.
Our team recently visited Bukhunyilu to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Solomon Wangula Spring. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.
It was during this most recent visit that Kamins Muteshi shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life and his community. Kamins is a 24-year-old university student who, like so many others his age across the country, has been waiting out Kenya's national school closures at home with his family.
Just as most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus. While the government recently re-admitted certain levels of students to return to school, Kamins' class was not one of them, and by rule, he will have to repeat his entire academic year come January before he is allowed to graduate.
Field Officer Jacklyne Chelagat met Kamins outside his family's home to conduct the interview. Both Jacky and Kamins observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Kamins' story, in his own words.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"We are now accessing clean and safe water, and our health is good. We take very minimal time to fetch water and this has increased time for other development activities to be conducted efficiently."
Kamins fetching water from Solomon Wangula Spring
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"It has helped us to drink, feed animals, wash our hands frequently, and promote high standards of hygiene and sanitation."
Kamins washing his hands with soap and clean water from the spring using a homemade tippy tap handwashing station
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?
"Fetching water in our spring has really changed as we no longer congest at the spring. Every member is advised to go in shifts and observe social distance while putting on masks."
Community members observe physical distancing and wear masks while fetching water at Solomon Wangula Spring
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"I was to finish my bachelor's degree early this year but due to the closure of learning institutions, it has created a setback in my studies which I was not prepared for. Being idle at home is a great challenge, especially without enough resources to meet your personal needs."
Kamins with family outside their home
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"I am worried as the little funds that were set aside for my school fees have already been used to cater to our daily needs. It's both creating economic and emotional challenges on me."
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?
"Every community member has strived to wash their hands frequently and wear masks whenever they are in gatherings or going to fetch water."
Kamins weatring his mask
What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?
"I am a worshipper in church, so opening churches was a wise thought. Being a student, I am happy to go back to school and finish my studies despite not having enough school fees."
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"Currently, most of the restrictions are lifted and we are happy though we are advised to continue observing the regulations that are in place."
Watering the family's cow with water from the spring
When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Kamins listed the radio, television, and our team's sensitization training.
What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?
"I was excited to acquire information on how to make tippy taps as it eases the handwashing process. Mask making was innovative enough that it gade every member access to it, and finally the entire sensitization was important as it created enough awareness on COVID-19."
July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Bukhunyilu Community, Solomon Wangula Spring
Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.
Trainer Jacky Chelagat builds a new tippy tap handwashing station at training
We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Bukhunyilu, Kenya.
We trained more than 21 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.
Trainer Janet Kayi leads the handwashing session
We covered essential hygiene lessons:
- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station
- Proper handwashing technique
- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing
- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.
Trainer Rose also demonstrates handwashing
We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:
- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19
- What social distancing is and how to practice it
- How to cough into an elbow
- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.
- How to make and properly wear a facemask.
Everyone practices the 10 steps of handwashing
During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point, along with a sign with reminders of what we covered.
The new tippy tap handwashing station and prevention reminders chart installed during training
Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.
Mask sewing tutorial
We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.
Helping a woman put on the newly sewn mask
Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.
September, 2019: Giving Update: Bukhunyilu Community, Solomon Wangula Spring
A year ago, your generous donation helped Bukhunyilu Community in Kenya access clean water.
There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water at Solomon Wangula Spring in Bukhunyilu. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…
May, 2018: Bukhunyilu Community Project Complete
Bukhunyilu Community now has clean water! Solomon Wangula Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of clean water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been given in sanitation and hygiene.
After constructing a rainwater catchment tank at ADC Bukhunyilu Primary School, the neighborhood villages were really amazed with the great work. They asked for a spring protection project because they've seen these same students fetch water at their own spring. Because of all this happening, community members were excited to come to the training and hear what we had to say.
Participants arrived early at the venue for the two-day training ready to learn and put into practice all they were going to be taught. Attendance was relatively impressive. We had 19 participants who were really eager to learn, despite having their own tight schedules. The participants asked questions when they couldn't understand and insisted on knowing even more about water treatment. They all promised to be great ambassadors of hygiene and sanitation, sharing all the information with their own families and neighbors.
The field officer clearly communicated the areas of needed improvement for Bukhunyilu, which included the following topics and more:
– Handwashing and personal hygiene
– Handling water and food hygienically
– Safe waste disposal
– Water treatment
Construction at the spring had just finished, and so the entire group walked over there for hands-on demonstrations. They learned how to properly use, manage, and maintain Solomon Wangula Spring. More importantly, they learned how to fetch, handle, and store clean water so as to ensure it’s still clean at the time of consumption.
All five sanitation platforms were installed. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine all their own, and are optimistic that there will be much less open defecation. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.
Community members provided all the required locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and gravel. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, and we asked a few people to volunteer their time and strength to help the artisan with manual labor.
The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of polyethylene, wire mesh and concrete. After the base had been set, both wing walls and the headwall were set in place using brickwork. The discharge pipe was fixed low in place through the head wall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.
As the wing walls and headwall were curing, the stairs were set and the tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. This reduces the erosive force of the falling water and beautifies the spring. The process of plastering the headwall and wing walls on both sides reinforces the brickwork and prevents water from the reservoir from seeping through the walls and allows pressure to build in the collection box to push water up through the discharge pipe.
Cleaning and plastering the base of the spring.
The source area was filled up with clean gravel and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination.
Since the concrete around the spring needed time to dry, we set a day to meet community members there and celebrate. This wasn't only a chance to celebrate the concrete drying, but clean water, too!
People brought their containers to fetch clean water for the first time.
"May God guide you to continue building more sanitation facilities and protecting springs in community and schools in Kenya," Farmer Isaac Achesa said.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
February, 2018: Bukhunyilu Community Project Underway
Bukhunyilu Community will soon have a clean, safe source of water thanks to your donation. Community members have been drinking contaminated water from Wangula Spring, and often suffer physical illnesses after doing so. Our partner conducted a survey of the area and deemed it necessary to protect the spring, build new sanitation platforms (safe, easy-to-clean concrete floors for latrines), and conduct sanitation and hygiene training. Thanks to your generosity, waterborne disease will no longer be a challenge for the families drinking the spring’s water. We look forward to sharing more details with you as they come! But for now, please take some time to check out the report containing community information, pictures, and maps.