Approximately one year into my Peace Corps service I sat down with my main counterparts, Joseph and Paul, to talk about how things were going. We hadn't accomplished a whole lot in the first year, but we wanted to lay down an action plan so that our second year could be more fruitful. Of the, different ideas we discussed two rose to the top; building latrines to provide access and encourage people to stop open defecation habits and a training about girls’ and women’s rights and what to do in case of rape.
Due to the fiscal year cycle we chose to first tackle the issue of latrines. To ensure the continued maintenance of the latrine we chose to enact the program at our local middle school. After evaluating the needs of the middle school we decided on a 4 stall ventilated improved pit design with two stalls for males and two for females. The hand washing station was built from locally available materials and is easily maintained by the school students. The sturdy cement latrine construction means that it will last for many years to come and can be emptied which allows for longevity. After securing funding from friends and family back home with the Peace Corps Partnership program we were able to start construction. With Joseph’s connections and work ethic a short 6 weeks later our latrine was complete!
Our opening ceremony included a hand washing training where students learned about the importance of washing their hands with soap after each bathroom use. The latrine has been an immediate hit, with students of both sexes using it every day- and washing their hands after! Because of this project over three hundred middle school students and 20 staff now have access to sanitary bathroom facilities during the school day. We hope this improved sanitation will mean fewer absences due to preventable gastrointestinal illnesses or menstruating girls. Already this latrine has had a huge impact though we look forward to future additions including informational resource posters inside about girls’ and women’s right and how to reclaim them in the judiciary system. The students and staff of CEG Zafi are happy to be and be known as safe, healthy and clean members of our community!
|Practicing good hand washing habits|
|Me and the latrine, check out the PC logo|
|the back: those vertical pipes help vent it to keep from getting too stinky. Also, flies fly up them towards the light, can't get out and then die, helping to break a cycle of disease transmission|
|Teachers, members of the PTA and me!|
|boys on the left, girls on the right and hand washing in the middle|
Thank you, everyone! We couldn't have done it without your support!