August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Margaret Masitza Mulama
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 Shihingo to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. 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 62-year-old farmer and mother Margaret shared her story of how the coronavirus has impacted her life.
Margaret Masitza Mulama outside her home.
Field Officer Patience Wanyonyi Njeri met Margaret outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Patience and Margaret observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. Their questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Margaret shares some of the changes she has seen in her community since the protection of Mulambala Spring.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the protection of Mulambala Spring?
"We now enjoy access to clean and safe water, which was not the case before when the water was exposing us to a risk of contracting waterborne diseases."
Margaret and another woman observe physical distancing at the spring.
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"Easy access to clean and safe water eases the process of sanitation around the household."
Margaret fetches water at Mulambala Spring.
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?
"Now we have to maintain social distancing at the water point. We have to wear face masks while going to fetch water, and before and after fetching water, we have to wash our hands."
Margaret washes her hands with soap and clean water from Mulambala Spring using the tippy tap handwashing station she set up in her home compound.
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"My son who works in Nairobi is experiencing financial difficulties due to loss of work. He now has to survive from hand to mouth. This, in turn, affects me because he supports me. Now it gets me worried about him all the time."
Margaret with 2 of her sons at home.
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?
"Wearing of face masks, washing hands using the handwashing stations installed in the households, and social distancing at the water point during drawing water."
Like 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 disease.
Margaret checks on her banana plants.
What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?
"The curfew being extended, and the lifting of lockdown - now we can travel."
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"Allowing elderly people to go to church. I am looking forward to attending church after such a long time."
Camera operator Allan Amadaro talks with Margaret during her interview.
When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Margaret 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?
"We have been able to social distance. and we can now make our own face masks."
July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shihingo Community, Mulambala 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 Shigali installs a prevention reminder chart at the spring warning of COVID-19
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 Shihingo, Kenya.
We trained more than 31 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 Olivia issues COVID-19 informational pamphlets to participants
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.
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.
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.
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.
Homemade mask tutorial
"The participants were so much impressed by the way facilitators made and installed the handwashing station close to the spring. Clayton Lugulu requested all participants to make handwashing stations in their homes and ensure that they use them correctly. He also urged participants to read the sack with COVID-19 messages every time they come to draw water and ensure that they follow what is written on the sack because it will be so bad if COVID-19 enters their village," recounted Trainer Shigali.
Sewing a mask
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.
Everyone follows the 10 steps of handwashing
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.
July, 2019: Giving Update: Shihingo Community, Mulambala Spring
A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect Mulambala Spring for Shihingo Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more…
May, 2018: Shihingo Community Project Complete
Shihingo Community now has clean water! Mulambala 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.
Hygiene and sanitation training was held on Mr. Lukulu's land, which is just a few meters from the spring. The venue was chosen because of all the trees that provided shade on such a hot day. It was also convenient to talk about how the spring works and how to make sure it lasts for years to come.
There was a great turnout. Thanks to Mr. Lukulu spreading the news about how important clean water, sanitation, and hygiene are for being healthy, we were able to train 19 community members.
The field officer clearly communicated the areas of needed improvement for Shihingo, which included the following topics and more:
– Handwashing and personal hygiene
– Handling water and food hygienically
– Safe waste disposal
– Water treatment
Community members practicing the 10 steps of handwashing.
We took the group over to the spring site so that the artisan could help us explain how things work.
Discussing ways to manage and maintain the spring protection.
Mrs. Sylvei Shihafu is a farmer who sacrificed her valuable time to learn these important things.
"I lack words to express my happiness for...our spring for protection and for today's powerful training on sanitation, hygiene, and other topics," she said.
All five sanitation platforms have been installed. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine of their own and are optimistic that people will no longer leave waste outdoors. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.
Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and hardcore (crushed rock and gravel). Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too. Men and women lent their strength to the artisan to help him with manual labor.
Men sifting sand that the artisan will mix with cement.
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 headwall 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.
The artisan using a level to check the wall.
The source area was filled up with clean hardcore and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination. We had the chance to celebrate with two of the first women who arrived to fetch clean water from the spring. Their smiles were contagious, proof that the clean water flowing in Shihingo is already causing hope and opportunity to blossom.
Mr. Lukulu beamed as he watched the clear water flow from the pipe.
"Waterborne diseases for us have now become a thing of the past! As you can see, the new water source discharges clean water that's free from any form of contamination, unlike before," he said.
February, 2018: Shihingo Community Project Underway
Shihingo Community will soon have a clean, safe source of water thanks to your donation! Community members have been drinking contaminated water from Mulambala Spring, and contend with the consequences on a daily basis. 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 here. Please take some time to get to know your community through the narrative and pictures posted to this page. We look forward to reaching out again with good news!