November, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Everlyne Chimwayi
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 Emulakha to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training and monitor their water point, Alukoye Spring. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic affects their lives.
During this most recent visit, Everlyne Chimwayi shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community. Everlyne is a 28-year-old farmer and mother. She also serves in the elected position of Secretary for the spring's water user committee.
Field Officer Betty Majani met Everlyne outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Betty and Everlyne observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Everlyne's story, in her own words.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"Initially, it was a must for one to carry a jug that was used to fill the bigger container, but now we walk with our 20-liter container alone. The issue of hiding a jug at the bush is no more."
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"We are able to wash our hands frequently throughout this pandemic period."
Everlyne next to her homemade handwashing station at home.
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 has greatly changed. We have to confirm from our neighbors who are near the spring if many people are fetching water and the situation at the spring before we go and draw water."
Physical distancing at the spring is the new norm.
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"I had a pupil in class eight this year, and I was sure that she would do her exams. I am forced to keep on talking to her because most of the candidates are discouraged."
Everlyne with two of her children at home.
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"The economic standards have gone up; it's not easy to provide for the family. I am forced to skip some meals per day."
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community took to stop the spread of the virus?
"At least every home has installed a handwashing station within their compound, and they ensure that there are soap and water throughout."
Everlyne with her mask on.
Like most governments worldwide, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.
What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?
"Reopening of schools was the best thing to do; some of our children are at school. It's our prayer that this pandemic will come to an end."
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"All education [levels] to open fully."
Everlyne doing the laundry using clean spring water.
When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Everlyne 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 am able to make masks from old pieces of clothes available, and my family is safe because I ensure that everyone puts it on whenever they go to church or school."
September, 2019: Giving Update: Emulakha Community, Alukoye Spring
A year ago, your generous donation helped Emulakha Community in Kenya access clean water.
There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water at Alukoye Spring in Emulakha. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…
August, 2018: Emulakha Community Project Complete
Emulakha Community is celebrating their new protected spring, so celebrate with them! Alukoye Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been done on sanitation and hygiene.
Across our first visits, we informed community members about any project requirements. Some of these entailed assembling local construction materials like sand and stones, then electing a water and sanitation management committee that will be trained on issues of maintenance and hygiene of the spring.
The region's weather was rainy, windy and cold at that time, so the participants asked we meet as soon as possible. We met them at the spring very early in the morning so that the training could end before the rain.
Hygiene and sanitation training was participatory, with the facilitator engaging participants through different activities like handwashing and other practical sessions. Women were more active than the men primarily because domestic chores and reproductive roles are considered to be just for the women. But when we got to the issues of spring maintenance, the men had a lot to say. This is because it is the men who plant trees and do manual labor tasks, such as digging, in this community.
We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; the spread of disease and prevention. We also covered water treatment methods, personal care like handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things.
The handwashing session was extremely helpful for this group. People were not aware of the critical time to wash hands, nor how to properly wash. They were surprised to learn how many germs they were still carrying after a quick rinse. Soap and running water must be used, and the facilitator showed them 10 important ways to scrub the germs away. Everyone was so interested and wanted to come up and practice with the trainer themselves.
All five sanitation platforms have been installed and make wonderful, easy to clean latrine floors. 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 gravel. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too.
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 cured, the stairs were set and ceramic tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. This protects the concrete from 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 source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination. The concrete dried over the course of two weeks.
Filling up the area behind the discharge pipe.
The rains interrupted our artisan a lot throughout the process. He would often start as early as 7am to get as much done as possible before the afternoon rain.
Since the spring is now protected, the community will no longer suffer from waterborne diseases. To this community, accessing safe and clean drinking water was just a dream. Many politicians had used this spring to capture votes, saying that if they were elected they would protect it. We have made good on the promise of clean water!
People lined up to get water as soon as we gave the OK!
"This is an answered prayer for this community because we used to have to walk to Marko Achina Spring that is three kilometers away. This wasted a lot of valuable time and would result in conflict," shared Mr. Bernard Amakoye.
"We are glad we now have access to safe water, which will save time to use on our farms!"
Mrs. Josephine Eshirama added that she always thought this kind of spring protection was only in rich villages.
"Now we have safe and clean water. Who knew that I would ever be able to draw water from a pipe and a floor made of tiles? It is truly a miracle," she said.
May, 2018: Emulakha Community Project Underway
Dirty water from Alukoye Spring is making people in Emulakha Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.
Get to know your community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!