Mentoring Kayaba youth to be sanitation champions: Joyland Children Centre

Established in 1997 by Alice Nyambura, Joyland Children Centre serves 335 students in the Crescent neighborhood of Kayaba. “Initially, three teachers taught 50 students in three rental units,” says Boniface Luvisya, the current head teacher at the school.

Headteacher Boniface Luvisya and health teacher Karen Kavata
Head teacher Boniface Luvisya and health teacher Karen Kavata outside Joyland Children Centre in Kayaba

The rental units did not come with access to toilet facilities, and Alice had to figure out an alternative for her students. However, she had limited options because she did not own the land. The best solution was to hire neighboring toilets situated by the Nairobi River, though this was less than ideal: “Even though we had access to a toilet for our students, it was risky sending them to those facilities as the majority of them were very young,” recalls Karen Kavata, who has been a teacher in the school for six years.

Despite these humble circumstances, the quality of education Alice offered her few students was exceptional. “My two teachers were well trained, unlike those in neighboring schools; that’s how I managed to recruit more students,” Alice recalls.

Alice envisioned a school with as many as 500 students, so she was on the lookout for land on which to set up the required infrastructure. Three years ago, she received permission to build classrooms on a plot of land in Crescent area. However, providing her students access to adequate sanitation still proved troublesome.

In Kayaba, there are hardly any sewer lines. Often, residents dig pit latrines and then hire waste collectors – known locally as frogmen – to manually empty the toilets. These waste collectors usually dump the waste directly into the Nairobi River. For their new school facility, Alice and her teachers wanted a more hygienic option, so they rented a pit latrine at a nearby church to serve the students. “We used to pay 2,000 shillings per month for the toilet services,” Boniface recalls, adding that it was too expensive to serve the long-term sanitation needs of the school. Determined to find a more sustainable and cost-effective solution, they discovered Fresh Life Toilets.

“I was first introduced to the Fresh Life team during a toilet launch at Kayaba School. When I learnt of the professional waste management services offered by the team, I knew this is what we needed,” says Boniface.

Fresh Life Attendant Mary Mbithi with students
Fresh Life attendant Mary Mbithi with students

With the help of the Fresh Life team, Joyland installed two Fresh Life Toilets. It was the beginning of improved sanitation at Joyland School. Teachers nominated Karen to spearhead the health and environment club as well as to represent the school in Sanergy’s School WASH training program.

Alice is proud of the achievements at her school: “All students now wash their hands before having their lunch and after visiting the toilet,” she says.

Earlier this year, in recognition of Joyland School’s commitment to learning and implementing hygiene and sanitation practices, Sanergy’s School WASH team recommended Joyland School for inclusion in Sanergy’s partnership with Oxfam. Through this program, Joyland has installed an additional five Fresh Life Toilets to serve their students!

“This was a great honor for my school. Now we have seven facilities providing hygienic sanitation to my students,” says a happy Alice.

“Two of my children study here. Knowing that they have access to clean toilets at all times is a relief because they are less likely to contract diseases such as diarrhea,” beams Karen.

class three student Brian Mutinda washing his hands
Class three student Brian Mutinda washing his hands

Through the health club, students frequently participate in school cleanup activities, inter-school debates, and sessions in which they recite poetry authored by Boniface about the importance of sanitation. The teachers say the club has helped students internalize the importance of good water, sanitation and hygiene practices.

During a recent Sanergy-sponsored inter-school WASH concert event, students from Joyland School’s health club performed an educational Swahili poem: Tuko Freshi! (We are fresh!)

“So far, we have produced five [sanitation poems], which we share with other schools, parents, and the community in general. It is our way of educating the community on sanitation,” adds Boniface.

Alice has big dreams for Joyland Children Centre. “In two years’ time, I want to expand and establish a high school to serve even more pupils,” she says. She is confident this is just the beginning of empowering a young generation of WASH champions in Kayaba.

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