A while back I wrote that I had a grant approved to build two institutional latrines for a Kindergarten, Primary, and Junior High school in a nearby community, Abutia Agove. Well after a lot work and a few setbacks, the latrines were finally completed during the first week of July. Now that the school children have a viable place to do their business, they won’t be tempted to “use the bush as their toilet”.
Part of the reason the project took almost 6 months to complete was because the pits were so difficult to dig. Under the terms of the grant that I received from Ghana WASH, the community was to dig the two pits seven feet deep. However, it turned out the ground is full of stones that were very difficult to dig through. In fact, the community broke 4 pick axes before giving up at six feet. Another problem we faced was the initial placement of the Kindergarten latrine. After we had already the begun excavation, a man from the community threatened to take us to court for trying to build the latrine on his land. Even though we believed the land belonged to the school, we decided not to go to court and move the latrine to another site. We were also set back another couple of weeks because our cement supplier ran out of cement. When conducting business in Ghana, encountering problems like these is the norm.
To go along with these brand spanking new latrines, we also trained a school health club, food vendors, health teachers and head teachers. The school health club consists of 30 students from the Primary and Junior High school to act as health and hygiene leaders in the school and ensure that the latrines are properly used and cleaned. Properly operating a latrine isn’t a trivial task, especially when a whole student body is using it. Plus, there are no school janitors.
I still struggle when leading workshop sessions, because I haven’t reached the point where I can facilitate hour-long sessions in Ewe. Fortunately I can use English with the teachers and most of the older students. But the food vendors and younger students learn the best in Ewe. During the course of the workshop I facilitated sessions on hand washing and latrine operation and maintenance. Overall, the 4-day workshop was a success and I’m looking forward to seeing the schools positively change their health and hygiene practices.