For years Kenya was one of the world’s success stories. They had the beginnings of democracy and unprecedented economic growth, things were looking up. That was until violence broke out in 2007 after a presidential election and 350,000 people were displaced. Now 46% of the 38.3 million people are living below the poverty line.
The Star, a Nairobi newspaper, details how students at the AIC Girls Boarding Primary School in Kajiado came together during this year’s Day of the African Child to make an appeal for help getting clean water in Kenya, one of the biggest challenges for Kenyans. This day is celebrated annually on June 16th in remembrance of the school children who marched against inferior education in 1976, hundreds of whom were shot down by police. It also serves to draw national and global attention to the lives of the current generation of African children.
This year’s celebration called attention to harmful social and cultural practices against children and discussed what the current stakeholders can do to help. This included highlighting the negative consequences of harmful practices against children, reviewing legislative and policy frameworks, and undertaking advocacy. Lanoi Parmuat, a local philanthropist, stated, “The occasion is for promoting rights of children with disabilities in Africa and creating awareness among the people in the communities.” The school chose to mark the day by bringing attention to their over 700 students, a number of whom were rescued from forced marriages and female circumcision, and their need for water.
Students came before sponsors and made their case, pleading with them to help them get water. There is no borehole at the school, as attempts to sink one failed, and the only water available is salty making cooking and cleaning difficult. It becomes even more of a problem as the resources are stretched thin from a steadily growing number of students.
But household chores are not their only concern according to teacher Lucy Itore, “Some of the girls are already menstruating and when they are in that stage they require a lot of water to keep themselves clean. All the water we get in the school is bought by the headteacher, Ms. Catherine Kipury.” The work of providing so many girls with water is too much for one teacher alone. She and the students need assistance from people willing to donate in order for their needs to be met.
Even with the new economic growth in the last couple of years, Kenya is still among the 30 poorest countries in the world. As a result, more than 15 million people do not have access to clean water. There are stories like this all across Africa, it is simply a matter of someone stepping in and doing something. The girls at the school are not just students, they are a voice for their generation. They will not just stand by and suffer without water, but they need help reaching their goal.
– Chelsea Evans