Towards cleaner and prosperous communities – Alexander’s Story
Alexander’s story was suggested by Fresh Life credit officer George Osir, who is a member of Team Freshi, a group dedicated to sharing stories that highlight the impact of Sanergy and Fresh Life in the communities we serve.
As far back as he can remember, Alexander Waweru has always relied solely on his charcoal business and the pub he runs to provide for his family and cater for his recurrent medical bills. Due to poor sanitation in the community, Alexander — who has a lifelong medical condition — was constantly exposed to potential health risks that barred him from earning a decent income from his ventures.
For years, there were no adequate toilets at Alexander’s home in Makongeni, Makadara area. “The only available ones were situated at Makongeni police post. Because they were poorly maintained, the toilets got clogged up and were eventually shut down,” he says. His family and neighbors had nowhere to relieve themselves except in polythene bags and in the nearby bushes.
Alexander’s house, located a few yards from the roadside, was a common spot for defecation. “At night, passersby would use our backyard to relieve themselves, and in the morning my family was overwhelmed by the smell from numerous flying toilets,” he recalls. As a short-term solution, Alexander’s daughter Anne Wangari acted as a watch guard by chasing away those who tried to relieve themselves in their backyard. Alexander was considering building pit latrines as a long-term solution to the problem.
In late 2013, during a visit with Alexander, Area Chief Peter Muiyera mentioned the Fresh Life Toilets that were fast spreading throughout Makadara area. This was a subject of particular interest to Alexander, who stopped by the Fresh Life offices to learn more. “Putting an end to open defecation in my neighborhood, and especially in my backyard, was my prime goal. It was also very interesting to learn about the Fresh Life Toilets business model, and I was motivated to join the movement. I purchased two Fresh Life Toilets to serve my neighborhood,” he says.
Alexander recently celebrated his first anniversary as a Fresh Life Operator. “Running this business has been very fruitful,” he says, adding that he has been able to clean up his neighborhood – and especially his backyard. The extra income from his Fresh Life Toilets helps him pay for his medical check-ups. The neighborhood is also much cleaner. He has also employed Wangari as an attendant of the toilet facilities. Wangari uses her share of the money to provide for the basic needs of her two children.
“I open the Fresh Life Toilets at 5 am and close at 10 pm, ensuring all households and businesspeople in our area have access to the facilities,” says Wangari, noting that maintaining regular hours of operation has contributed to retaining the majority of her customers.
As a way of giving back to the community, Alexander and Wangari offer free use of the toilets to the students at nearby Faith Montessori School. “I want children to have access to clean and hygienic sanitation at all times,” says Wangari.
Now that he has a consistent source of income, Alexander’s prospects are looking up. He has joined a health insurance plan to help with his medical bills, and last week, he launched his third Fresh Life Toilet. We know the sky is the limit for Alexander, and we are excited to work with him to help his community!