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Adventures on Rusinga Island

Luckiest Day Ever

KENYA | Friday, 17 August 2012 | Views [572]

Tuesday 6/5

So yesterday's entry was done in the morning, and since then SO MUCH has happened!! First we must go back to Monday. Monday I met with the nurse, Magdalene, to try and find a place for me in the clinic. Unfortunately, they really don’t need much help, which is kind of disappointing but oh well. I’ll be helping with their after school reproductive health program after school twice a month, and I also have a project of my very own. In short, my project is water. In our meeting with Magdalene Alphonce asked if there was a public health area I could work on, and she said they were having a big problem with the children not using clean water in the schools, even though it is available. So that is my project: working to change this. We created a survey about the water and sanitation practices at school, and planned on asking a focus group of 12 students and (separately) one teacher at four of the local schools.

So Tuesday morning I was having breakfast with Alphonce and Mark as usual, when a gecko fell from the ceiling directly into my tea! Like right into the cup of hot tea. Don’t worry, he jumped right out and scurried off completely safe, but it was a real surprise. I found it hilarious, and bizarre, and Alphonce told me it was good luck. Well boy was he right. This afternoon I was in the office, writing e-mails about the sponsorship program, when a mzungu came in. First of all, I was shocked to see another white person. I know this is funny because 1) I myself am white, and 2) I’m not the only white person on the island, but it was surprising nonetheless. His name is Martin, and he is a teacher from the North of England. He and a group of 10 other teachers from his area did a sort of exchange program with teachers from Kenya. So they were visiting one of the schools on the island, and brought with them these water pumps. There were 10 small (to serve 20 people/day) and one large (to serve 500 people/day). Considering yesterday we were brainstorming methods of getting clean water readily available in the schools, the timing is nothing but providential. So this evening Magdalene, Mark, Alphonce and I went to where this group of teachers was staying for a demonstration of the pumps. The smaller one, or family size pump, looks just like an air pump. The larger one, or community size, is a bit more complicated, but is still essentially a hand pump. Truly, they sound too good to be true. They are supposed to clean the water using a system of microfibers; they last for decades, and require minimal upkeep. They can even clean water that is visibly dirty and make it perfectly safe for even non-natives to drink. It all sounds too perfect really. This group wants to get one community sized pump in every school, and then students could take the cleaned water home to their families and the clean water would be available to the community for use. It looks like the biggest obstacle, and it is a HUGE obstacle, would be getting people here to accept and actually use these pumps. Martin and another teacher named Charles want to get a community size pump for each of the schools on the island, and plan on asking businesses in their area to donate money and sponsor these pumps (which cost only about $300 for the community size and $30 for family size). Exciting stuff, and these pumps truly sound like a great asset to the community, but the pumps alone are not the answer. There also needs to be habitual changes in how water is drawn, as well as hand washing practices. These are the types of things we need to consider as we move forward with the water and sanitation project. One of the Primary schools on the island has actually had one of these pumps for the past 9 months or so, and I am eager to hear about their experience with it. Also adding that to my to do list.  When we left the teachers the 4 of us went to eat at a place called Rusinga Guest House. I really enjoyed having the time to get to better know Magdalene, and it is especially good to better understand what she expects from me. She is just a wonderful person and I really look forward to getting to spending time with her.

 

Tags: clinic, kenya, public health, rusinga island, safety, sanitation, schools, water, water pumps

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