On a Mission to Transform Mathare Community: School Director Bernard’s Story
Last month, the network of Fresh Life Toilets expanded beyond Mukuru, and we now have toilets in the informal settlements of Mathare, Kiambiu, and Tassia. Some of the first Fresh Life Toilets in Mathare are at Mabawa School. We took the opportunity to chat with Bernard Nyachieo, the school director, about his vision for his students and his community.
At Mabawa School, it is break time, and children are happily playing in their classrooms and around the school yard.
Student Sabina is busy collecting littered papers and sweeping the pathway to the staff room, which also leads to the school’s newly installed Fresh Life Toilets. It is a special day at Mabawa: they are transitioning from the use of hired, off-site toilets. She smiles warmly and directs the Fresh Life team to the staff room where there are five teachers all hurriedly marking end-of-term exam papers and preparing for a training. Bernard Nyachieo, the school’s director, sits down for a brief chat. “Today is a special day for my team. We celebrate another great milestone in the history of Mabawa,” Bernard beams.
He recalls three years ago when he decided to set up Mabawa School. The land on which the school is located was a dumpsite for household and human waste, and the resulting stench was too much for Bernard and his community.
While he managed to transform the dumpsite into an educational center, he was faced with another challenge. The two toilet structures his students used were forced to shut down due to the persistent water shortage in Mathare area. He approached the county development fund’s toilet project and developed an agreement: he donated his water tank, and in return his students and staff would be allowed to use the facilities at a discounted price of 500 shillings per month.
While this was the best solution, it came with challenges, too. “It has not only been time consuming but also very risky,” says Bernard. He was afraid for the young students in baby class who had to walk 25 meters from the school to access the toilets.
Last year, when the Fresh Life Marketing Team introduced Bernard to the Fresh Life Toilets, he was excited because the team had come at the right time. He needed a clean, hygienic, odorless, and waterless toilet. He did not believe one existed until he participated in a training by the Fresh Life team. “I was amazed to see the unique toilet and resolved to establish toilets to serve our school community.”
Today, Mabawa School proudly owns two Fresh Life Toilets, and they are now in charge of their sanitation once more.
The Fresh Life Toilets come at a time when the school is preparing its first candidates for 2016’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education. The students will now have less to worry about and more time to concentrate on their studies.
Now, with his school quickly expanding, Bernard hopes to set up three additional Fresh Life Toilets to serve his students and staff. Bernard is an exemplary individual determined to transform his Mathare community through education and health. We wish him the best!