Making Schools a Safe Haven for Learning: Part 2

At Kawino Mixed Secondary School, an Anglican-sponsored school in Nyanza province, Kenya, I saw how the vision and creativity of the principal, Gabriel Okong’o, and administrators enabled them to enrich the students’ experience with just a few resources.  The leadership jumped at the opportunity to work with Episcopal Relief & Development and our partner, Anglican Development Services, to install the roof catchment system and tank, as well as receive some funding for latrines.  Using local sand, they make their own cement and keep costs down.  When I visited, the latrines were almost finished—a set of six, with three for girls on one side and three for boys on the other, plus privacy walls in front. 

Gabriel didn’t stop with the basics, however.  He described how many students have to walk an hour or more to get home after school gets out at 5:30 pm.  The area where they live lacks water, and they arrive home too late to make the journey to fetch it.  So Gabriel is having a simple “bath house” constructed where students can bring in a bucket of water to bathe.  Critical health and hygiene information is shared with students through their peer counseling program.  Kawino also has a course in agriculture and a school garden where students put knowledge and improved growing techniques into practice.  The food produced is combined with the rainwater to support a thriving lunch program. 

All these elements work together to help students overcome the obstacles to staying in school.  One of the seniors, Joshua, is an orphan who relies on relatives with very few resources.  With the support of the school, he is on his way to graduating and is now considering university.  Joshua explained, “During Christian Education class, I started thinking about what I could do to help others, and I got interested in becoming a lawyer.”  The relatively small investments by ADS and Episcopal Relief & Development in these school-based clean water and sanitation projects make a real difference—improving both these students’ daily lives and their prospects for a brighter future.

Dawn Murdock is the Resource Mobilization Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development.

Photo: Clean water and sanitation projects in
Nyanza schools are enabling students to focus more
on their studies and to succeed. Courtesy of
Harvey Wang for Episcopal Relief & Development.