Safe and Secure

Written by: Madalitso Banda

The bell rings. It’s 10:30 a.m., and it is school break time here at Wanyala Primary School, located in southeast Kasungu. Girls and boys are all running in two different directions, and the toilets are the main destination of the rush.

As a way of encouraging young girls to attend school, CARE built three modern toilets at Wanyala Primary School in September 2009. The toilets have made the lives of the girls at the school much easier by allowing them to focus on their studies. Proper sanitation plays a key role in keeping young girls in school, especially in developing countries like Malawi, where open defecation still exists in the rural villages as well in rural primary school.

Alice Anderson is a 23-year-old beneficiary of a CARE scholarship, and she is one of the 11 teachers that have graduated from Loudon Teachers’ Trainings College courtesy of that scholarship. “CARE gave me a chance to get educated, to which I am grateful and looking forward to help my fellow girls here at my former primary school,” she said as she began giving instructions to girls.

According to Alice, the situation was bad before CARE built the toilets at the school. “I know many of the girls dropped out from this school in my time because of sanitation-related challenges, especially when we were menstruating because there was no place to change the pads. Young girls’ privacy was compromised.”

The building of sanitation facilities in schools in the Kasungu district in Malawi has made the school environment far more conducive for learning, as the toilets greatly help young girls who previously may have associated using the restroom with risk and burden.

 “The toilets are strong, and I have been using them since September 2009, and I feel safe and secure when using them, and my performance in class has improved.” Said Leah Phiri, a 13-year-old standard seven student.

Elifa Kalonga, a 14-year-old standard seven student also commented, saying, “I have not missed any class because of a toilet issue since I enrolled at this school.” Elifa came to Wanyala Primary school due to sanitation issues at her previous school. The sanitation facilities were in bad shape, causing her to occasionally be absent and miss lessons.  

As a way of making sure that every student at the school is using the toilets, that the toilets are clean, and that water is all available for students to wash their hands when they visit the toilets, students volunteer at the school to serve as sanitation prefects who ensure the toilets are clean and used responsibly.

“Every morning, I make sure that the toilets surroundings are swept, the interior is cleaned, and the water buckets are filled with water and well positioned to avoid diseases that are spread by poor sanitation hygiene,” explained Ivy Kalindo, one of the sanitation prefects at the school. 

It is clear that the construction of the toilets at Wanyala Primary School has made a big difference in the day-to-day lives of all female students. Evelesi Banda, a young student, stated, “When I am in class, I concentrate on my lessons, knowing that at the break time, I will go to the toilet and relieve myself there.”