January, 2021: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Christine Magotsi
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 Shisere to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Richard Okanga 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 Christine Magotsi, who works as the Community Administrator, shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community.
Field Officer Jacky Chelagat met Christine outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Jacky and Christine observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Christine's story, in her own words.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"Accessing clean water is so easy; no more outbreaks of waterborne diseases or diarrhea; and fetching water is so easy and takes a very short time. "
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"Sufficient flow of clean water has boosted hygiene in our homes. And, most importantly, it has helped members to frequently wash their hands as a way of preventing themselves from contracting COVID-19. "
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 from this spring has greatly changed. Community members ensure they have masks on, there is no congestion at the spring, and they use the minimal time to fetch water and go back home. "
Christine with her mask on
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"The closure of schools has made monitoring children very difficult. It has also stopped my meetings with community members following the government restrictions on gatherings. Generally, it has affected daily activities. "
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"Social gatherings have been restricted. We no longer attend social functions as we used to. The number of people attending any function has been regulated and this has made life boring."
Christine outside her home with her father, next to their handwashing station
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?
"Being a leader, I still emphasize the need to follow the well-laid rules and regulations by the government. Community members are still keen on observing social distance, wearing masks, and washing hands."
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 virus.
What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?
"Changing curfew hours was a relief to my community members as a majority are business people and they sell their products till late."
Christine washes her hands with soap and water from Richard Okanga Spring.
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"Schools being opened and our children resuming their lessons immediately.
These children are the future leaders and they need proper education and empowerment to excel."
Since we spoke with Christine, the Kenyan government fully reopened all school levels to in-person learning. Students' first day back was January 4, 2021.
What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?
"Training was helpful as it led to positive changes in attitude. The community members were able to put into practice all the measures and regulations highlighted. All homes have washing points for sufficient handwashing, mask themselves whenever they are going to gatherings, observe the social distance, and retreat from their usual way of shaking hands as a form of greeting. "
June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shisere Community, Richard Okanga 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.
Handing out COVID-19 informational pamphlets
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 Shisere, Kenya.
We trained more than 55 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Social distancing was mandatory to attend. Before there were any cases in the area, 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.
Reviewing prevention reminders chart
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.
A community member washes her hands
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.
Facilitators make masks for participants through their demonstration
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.
Demonstrating how to properly put on and wear a 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.
December, 2019: Shisere Community, Richard Okanga Spring Project Complete!
Shisere Community now has access to clean water! Richard Okanga Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, provided 5 sanitation platforms to different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.
Community member celebrating the newly completed spring
Our main contact for this community was the local Member of the County Assembly Gladys Mukongolo. She helped mobilize her community to provide all locally available construction materials, including bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, stones, and fencing poles. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too.
Women and men lent their strength to the artisan to help him with manual labor. The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, and concrete.
Artisans work together to lay the brickwork over the spring's concrete foundation
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.
Artisan measures the pipe setting
As the wing walls and headwall were curing, 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.
Artisans add cement over the stairs and walls
The source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a thick plastic tarp to prevent potential sources of contamination. It took about 2 weeks of patience for the concrete to dry. As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to begin fetching clean water. We met them there to celebrate this momentous occasion.
As the entire community gathered at the spring, they were addressed by Ms. Mukongolo who emphasized the maintenance of the spring and the importance of a collective approach in ensuring that the project is well taken care of. Officers from our team then thanked the community members for their cooperation and further urged the community to take good care of the spring.
Community membesr celebrate the newly completed spring
"We are so happy for we shall now get clean water from our spring," said farmer Lilian Inziani.
"Getting water from the spring is now easier and safer. We shall do our best to ensure that the spring is well maintained so that it can serve our great-great-grandchildren."
Child enjoys handwashing at the spring
All 5 sanitation platforms have been installed. These 5 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.
Proud new owners of a sanitation platform
As the construction process was underway, we went from one homestead to another to spread the word of the upcoming training, scheduled with the help of Mr. Richard Okanga, the landowner of the farm where the spring is located. He gave us the community’s preferred date for training, for he was very much aware of the community calendar when it comes to planting season and other big events.
Some 38 women, children, and men attended training, which was a good turnout. The training was organized at a time when people were busy harvesting maize, so this group's participation was encouraging to see. We met in Mr. Okanga's home since it is considered a central point of the community for many. Participants young and old were actively engaged the whole day and asked many good questions.
Site management training session at the spring led by Field Officer Jacklyne Chelagat, in center
We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; and the prevention and spread of disease. We also covered water treatment methods, personal care like handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things. Toothbrushing, in particular, was a big hit during the dental hygiene session.
Demonstrating proper amount of toothpaste during dental hygiene session
"Our community has for a long lagged behind in our hygiene and health matters. Some people would not bathe frequently or brush their teeth. Today we are glad and we pray that all of us will try to practice and put into action all that we have learned today," said Mr. Okanga.
Thank you for making all of this possible!
October, 2019: Shisere Community, Richard Okanga Spring Project Underway!
Dirty water from Richard Okanga Spring is making people in Shisere Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.
Get to know this 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 news of success!