October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Laurence Nashirobe
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 Shitoto to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Laurence 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 Laurence Nashirobe shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life and his community. At 73-years-old, "Kuka Nashirobe", or Grandfather Nashirobe, is the spring's landowner. He serves as the treasurer for the spring's water user committee, farms for a living, and lives at home with his wife.
Field Officer Betty Muhongo met Laurence outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Betty and Laurence observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Laurence's story, in her own words.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"Drawing water. The idea of going to the spring and not getting worried whether you will find a bowl or a jug for scooping up the water, which was a challenge at the beginning, [is a change]."
Mask wearing and physical distancing are the new norms at the spring
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"It has reduced the work. We don't have to worry about getting treatment for the water itself. You just fetch water and use it as it is."
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. Since the outbreak, we have had reduced trips or time and minimized interactions [at the spring], which were at [a] peak [there]."
Mrs. Nashirobe fetching water from Laurence Spring
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"Children having not to go to school has really affected us. Our kids will have to repeat their classes and as parents, we will definitely pay the school fees for the first term which we had already paid in full. Staying at home has also increased the daily expenses."
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"Corona has really made relationships weaker. We used to visit each other regularly, but now we can't."
The Nashirobe's outside their home
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?
"Most community members have improvised handwashing stations at home since they have enough water."
Laurence washes his hands with soap and clean water from the spring using a leaky tine handwashing station he set up outside his home.
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?
"Lockdown. I was so worried as a parent because all my children were in urban centers and they couldn't travel home because of COVID-19."
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"Church opening. It's my humble prayer that churches will be opened to everyone so that we can go and worship. People of old age are not allowed to church because of their immune systems, which are [weaker]."
When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Laurence 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?
"Making of masks. I really appreciate the team that came to our village mainly to teach us how to prevent COVID-19. I was so keen on how I should make my own mask because buying them is so expensive and the disease has interfered with income."
July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shitoto Community, Laurence 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.
Facilitators pass out informational pamphlets on 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 Shitoto, Kenya.
We trained more than 29 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.
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.
Everyone practices the 10 steps of 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.
Homemade 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.
Use the elbow to cough or sneeze
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.
Reviewing the prevention reminders chart
Community member Laurence Mashirobe said she appreciated the knowledge they received on COVID-19 from the training. She went on to say that if applied properly, the knowledge they got in the training would help them improve their living standards.
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.
Community members pose for a photo showing their informational pamphlets
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, 2018: A Year Later: Shitoto Community, Laurence Spring
A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect Laurence Spring for Shitoto 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...
January, 2018: Shitoto Community B Project Complete
Laurence Spring in Shitoto 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
16 participants met us at Laurence Spring for hygiene and sanitation training.
The trainer handing out notebooks and pens to participants so they can record what they learn.
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, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many others.
Demonstrations were some of the most popular parts of the training, with participants enjoying getting their hands involved. We did this with hand-washing, teaching the 10 steps of washing with soap and running water. And since we were already near the spring, we were able to teach about proper spring use, management, and simple maintenance.
Mercy Madegwa said, "Thanks for the training. Personally, I had no idea on water handling. I knew that my water was safe after treating it with chlorine forgetting that handling was key, but from now I will take good care of it, be it at home or on my way from the spring."
Participants posing for a group picture at their spring.
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 are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.
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 we asked a few people to volunteer their time and strength to help the artisan with manual labor.
Men helping our artisan by delivering bricks to the construction site.
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.
Installing the discharge pipe
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 polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination. Community members then helped us plant grass and dig cutoff drains to direct surface water away from the spring box. This process transformed Laurence Spring into a clean water source!
Community members assembled at the spring to sing songs and dance, as the officer in charge of the project handed this new clean water source over for their use. Mr. Laurence Nashilove spoke on behalf of his community, saying "We thank God for you, because very many political leaders had promised to protect this spring, but it never came to pass. In the past, they brought their artisans to protect the spring but whenever they arrived, the artisans complained of the big stone around the spring. But these artisans from WeWaSaFo are qualified. We now have safe and clean water, and our children will not suffer from waterborne diseases again."
November, 2017: Shitoto Community Project Underway
Shitoto Community will soon have a clean, safe source of water thanks to your donation. Community members have been drinking contaminated water from Laurence 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.