Fresh Life in Schools: Improving the Lives of Mukuru’s Students
The Kenyan Ministry of Education requires schools to ensure the availability and accessibility of clean and safe toilets for students. Since the end of 2014, Fresh Life has been helping schools meet this mandate by providing Fresh Life Toilets and training to interested primary schools in Mukuru and Mathare. Today, we have 154 Fresh Life Toilets in 59 schools, accompanied by programming such as hygiene training, health clubs, and hygiene debates.
Schools like Bright Angels Academy and New Dawn School struggled to meet the Ministry’s requirements and experienced the consequences. In 2010, when Douglas Ogwaro, the head teacher and founder of Bright Angels Academy, was seeking registration and operating permits to run a private primary school, his application was denied because there were no toilet facilities for his prospective students. His only option was to register as a community school, allowing him to hire a toilet from an external service provider. Douglas did not like this option as the majority of parents are reluctant to enroll their children in community schools, which are often perceived as having lower educational standards and lacking access to vital infrastructure such as toilets. He did not want such a reputation for Bright Angels Academy.
Although New Dawn School had successfully received certification, Asenath Awuor, the school’s head teacher, had a contentious relationship with the Ministry officials who routinely inspected her school. The main problem was that the pit latrines were not up to standard; they were often found to be clogged up, smelly, and fly-infested.
These head teachers both found a solution when they learned about Fresh Life. In 2012, when Fresh Life Toilets began gaining popularity in Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Douglas was among those recruited to the WASH in Schools program. “After learning about how Fresh Life Toilets work, I decided to install one facility at Bright Angels Academy for my 50 students,” says Douglas. “To date, I have been very satisfied with my partnership with the Fresh Life team.”
New Dawn School, which had a population of 330 students at the time, installed five Fresh Life Toilets. Both Douglas and Asenath are proud of the positive impact their partnership with Fresh Life has had for their students.
At both schools, student enrollment has increased since the Fresh Life Toilets were installed. New Dawn currently has 513 students, while Bright Angels has 200 students. At New Dawn, the Fresh Life Toilets have helped improve Asenath’s relationship with visiting officials: Fresh Life’s regular waste collection helps ensure the toilets pass the Ministry’s requirements, and New Dawn now routinely passes inspection without a problem.
In addition, Fresh Life Toilets guarantee the safety of the pre-schoolers. “With our previous pit latrines, our staff had to accompany students to the toilet to avoid accidental falls,” says Asenath. Today, students are now able to visit the toilets on their own without fear of accident or injury.
As for Douglas, the WASH in Schools training in which he participated has provided him the skills and knowledge to improve overall cleanliness and hygiene standards. “Our students now come to school well groomed and in their full school uniform, improving the image of our school,” he says. He is now confident about the school’s sanitation facilities and is pursuing certification as a private school.
We are delighted that New Dawn School and Bright Angels Academy have benefitted so greatly from their Fresh Life Toilets. When asked what they would love to see in the future, Douglas and Asenath think a urinal facility for their male students would be a welcome addition.