Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tapping into the Lives of Kamira

By: Jasmine Zhang, Josev Aquino, Maria Gorret

Kamira Intern Team poses with a tippy tap (from left to right):
Josev, Doreen, Kai, Catherine, Maria, and Jasmine
Imagine this: you've just come from the toilet or latrine, your hands are soiled, and there is no running water nor a simple bowl of water for you to rinse off your hands. For those of us that live in countries where running water is ubiquitous, this situation would never cross our minds; however, the case is different for the local primary school where, not only is running water unavailable, but where the local borehole is a significant forty-minute walk away (heavy 20 liter jerry cans not included). And for those who do live close to the borehole, a majority of them have limited knowledge regarding water access and sanitation, such as the simple fact that washing your hands after coming into contact with feces prevents major, life-threatening diseases such as cholera or dysentery. 

Enter the tippy tap. It is small, cost-effective hand washing device constructed from wooden poles, a five liter jerry can previously used to hold milk or cooking oil, a few nails, wire, and string. The jerry can is suspended by wire to the top pole and can be tipped by a piece of wire or string attached to the lid. The string/wire is attached to a piece of wood on the ground, which tips when one stands on it. Thus, when tipped, the can dispenses a small amount of water enough to wash hands. Typically, a piece of soap or a container of ash is tied next to the jerry can. In Kamira, villagers can purchase a tippy tap for 1000 shillings (approximately USD $0.28). 

When we were touring the schools during our second week, we noticed that none of the three schools in the Kamira village had tippy taps. After we conducted our first WASH sensitization at the Kamira Seventh Day Adventist school, where we taught the children the importance of hand washing, treating water, and keeping it clean, we recognized how futile it is to stress the importance of hand washing when they did not even have a tippy tap. So, a week after, we built two for free and consequently, brought a facet of reality to our lesson.  


Our education session, in collaboration with the school, not only served as a motivating catalyst for us to encourage other schools to purchase tippy taps but also provided the schoolchildren with valuable and sustainable knowledge to take home. Up to date, we have built a total of eight tippy taps at the local schools inKamira. Although this seems like a meager amount, we know we've made a difference, albeit small: the kids always sing the "naaba mungalo" (hand washing) song--even when we're not at the schools--and regularly use the tippy taps. Sure, this may seem like only a drop in the bucket (pun intended), but Uganda Village Project has almost three years left to educate Kamira Village, and we've only been here for two months. We've planted the seeds. We're confident that they'll grow.