October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Gracy Malezi
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 Handidi to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Malezi 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.
It was during this most recent visit that Grace Malezi, who more often goes by Gracy or Mama Gracy, shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community. Gracy is a 70-year-old farmer, grandmother, and mother in Handidi. As the namesake of the spring, she is also the water point's caretaker.
Mama Gracy Malezi outside her home
Field Officer Patience Njeri met Gracy outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Patience and Gracy observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Gracy's story, in her own words.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"We have a continuous supply of clean water. There also has been a reduction of waterborne and water-related diseases, which were affecting our children."
Gracy fetching water from Malezi Spring
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"With a continuous supply of clean water, there is regular washing of hands. It has also helped us to maintain a high level of personal hygiene."
Handwashing with soap and clean water from Malezi Spring using the leaky tine Gracy set up outside her house
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?
"Yes, fetching for us has changed. During the first few weeks, there was a lot of fear among us; no one was sure about the disease. But with the information we've learned over time, we now fetch water while observing the set regulations."
Physical distancing at the spring
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"It restricted our movement around. My children have just been doing menial jobs. They are involved with construction. With the outbreak, some have been laid off from work unexpectedly. Also, just being able to afford basic needs has been a challenge since the outbreak."
Gracey at home with her granddaughters
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"Economic challenges. The outbreak has caused a major impact on the economy. This has thus has affected us severely because we are in small-scale business."
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community took to stop the spread of the virus?
"Regularly washing hands, social distancing, and wearing face masks."
Portrait of Gracy wearing her homemade mask
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?
"Opening of the church was what I was most excited about. I had missed the fellowship with other believers."
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"I am looking forward to opening schools for all students, not just a certain [class year]."
Checking on her bananas
When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Gracy 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?
"From the training, I benefited a lot from learning how to make masks and the steps in washing hands."
July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Handidi Community, Malezi 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 reviews the prevention reminder chart
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 Handidi, Kenya.
Trainer Patience distributes COVID-19 informational pamphlets
We trained more than 14 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.
Building a tippy tap handwashing station
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.
Homemade face mask tutorial
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.
Community members following the mask tutorial closely to sew their own
The training participants thanked our team for considering them during this period to the extent of bringing to that village such valuable knowledge. They promised to keep social distancing, wash their hands frequently with soap and water, and to observe everything was taught that during the training.
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.
A woman sews a mask at training
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.
August, 2018: A Year Later: Handidi Community
A year ago, generous donors helped protect Malezi Spring for Handidi Community in Western Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow 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...
August, 2017: Clean Water Flowing in Handidi Community
Malezi Spring in Handidi Community, Kenya is now a protected, clean 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 given in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the changes that all of these resources are going to bring for these residents! You made it happen! Now, want to do a bit more? Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this spring protection and many other projects.
We just updated the project page with the latest pictures, so make sure to check them out! And please enjoy the rest of the report from our partner in Kenya:
Project Result: New Knowledge
Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled by coordinating with Mrs. Grace Malezi, since she agreed to greater responsibility as the spring landowner. She asked for a week's time to mobilize her community to participate, and went door to door inviting people to attend. 14 people ended up attending, surprisingly with two more men than women. Normally, women outnumber the men because they are seen as most responsible for sanitation and water chores in their homes.
Training participants wave for a group picture!
Training topics included but were not limited to 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, environmental hygiene, and hygiene promotion. We also took a session to emphasize proper maintenance of the spring protection project. The community should refrain from washing clothes, watering animals, farming with fertilizers, and open defecation in the vicinity.
We brought poster paper and illustrations that facilitated discussion on healthy and unhealthy behaviors. Group discussions were also very effective in helping participants take responsibility for what they were learning. And since we near the spring, we could easily show the group how to manage and maintain their new clean water point. One of the most important sessions was on hand-washing, which is a great, efficient way to prevent the spread of disease.
The trainer, Catherine, pours water as a participant follows the steps of thorough hand-washing.
Mr. Nelson Mwongoi said, "I am sincerely happy for your contribution made towards protection of this spring, and for ensuring that we get clean and safe water for drinking. More so for enlightening us on so many issues ranging from poultry farming, sanitation and hygiene, water and foodstuff handling, leadership and governance and so many others."
Project Result: Sanitation Platforms
All five sanitation platforms have been installed and are ready for use. These five families are happy about this milestone and are optimistic that there will be much less open defecation. People without proper latrines would often use the privacy of bushes, but now have a private place of their own. It is expected that proper use of latrine facilities provided by the sanitation platforms will go a long way in reducing environmental pollution here. We will continue to encourage these five families to finish building walls and roofs for privacy.
Mrs. Malezi lives with her family next to the spring. They were one of the needy families who benefitted from a new latrine floor!
Project Result: Spring Protection
Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and hard core (crushed rock and gravel). Accommodation and food for the artisan were provided and a few people volunteered their services as laborers.
A local man helps the artisan mix concrete.
The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of polythene, wire mesh and concrete. After the base had been set, both wing walls and the head wall 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 head wall 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 head wall 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. Lastly, the base of the spring was plastered and the collection box was cleaned. The source area was filled up with clean hardcore and covered with a polythene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination. Finally, grass was planted and cutoff drains dug to direct surface water away from the spring box.
Some local men stand at the artisan's call as he builds the steps down to the spring.
Nicholas Likami was there to witness the transformation as others fetched their first containers of clean water. "I am now 68 years of age, and I have been drinking water from this spring. I suffered from waterborne diseases through consuming water from this source. It's truly God's mercies that am still a live today! I am expecting to live longer since am now able to access clean and safe water for drinking," Mr. Likami exclaimed.
Thank You, Nandansons Charitable Foundation!