Diary entry from our Managing Director, Paul and Dean from World Duty Free, Manchester on their current trip to Nairobi to visit The One Foundation’s funded programmes.
We flew into Nairobi with a small group from World Duty Free (WDF), who as an organisation have raised an astonishing £2 million to support The One Foundation’s vision of a world in which everyone has access to clean, safe water – forever.
We arrived into steaming, noisy & chaotic central Nairobi close to midnight and the following morning set off early to visit two school programmes that The One Foundation has funded. It was very wet, & very muddy – the sort of mud that is a dark rusty red & appears almost Martian in colour. We were travelling in what looked like a massively enlarged classic 1960s VW camper van, in the format of a small bus; heading to the Naivasha region that is (in)famous for the industrialisation of rose agriculture.
The minute we entered the first school, there was such a sense of childlike energy, positivity (despite everything) & general lust for life – and we were immediately surrounded by hundreds of tiny children. The projects, run at both this school & the subsequent school we visited, focus on the wider health & sanitation agenda alongside accessible water. Clean water without clean toilets & hand washing facilities is counterproductive. After an intro from the head, we were taken around to see the new toilet facilities, hand washing stations and rain water harvesting facilities that have been built.
What hit me the most was the sheer number of children attending each school – some have up to 2000 pupils. When you compare this to the number of toilet facilities available, it really is hard hitting. Before The One Foundation supported these schools, they only had 4-5 latrine pits for the whole school. These were for children of all ages; so children as young as 4 would need to compete with teenagers just to be able to use the facilities. This often meant missed classes and children having to go without. The latrine pits were also filthy and gave no privacy, which is something we just all take for granted. For these very young children to have to experience this is awful.
With The One Foundation’s funding, more toilets have been built and to a better standard – with lockable doors, discretion walls, running tap water and even showers so that the children can wash. We were told that before these were provided, the school was very close to being closed down as it could not meet the guideline of 1 latrine per 30 children. Thank goodness that The One Foundation stepped in and was able to save the school from closure – and that these children can have a real future!
I don’t think that any of us will ever forget hearing the most articulate 15 year old girl, Jacinda, explaining the effect these changes had had on her & the girls at her school. Jacinda is part of the school hygiene club that has been formed and spoke so beautifully and touchingly about the dignity and privacy that female students have now since the new facilities have been built. Many of the girls are from low income families and don’t have water or facilities at home, so when they are on their periods many of them will stay late to use the shower that has been built for them.
It’s been a moving day and has really driven home the importance of sanitation within our programmes. Tomorrow we visit the informal settlements around the area to see more of the systems-led, sustainable change that The One Foundation is funding.