Stephen Wamukota wanted to help his community fight the coronavirus in Kenya. The nine-year-old from the western Kenyan county of Bungoma used his ingenuity and what little resources he had to create a semi-automatic hand-washing machine for his community. His hard work has led to the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, to present him with the Presidential Order of Service.
The Coronavirus in Kenya
As of mid-August 2020, there had been more than 30,000 cases of coronavirus in Kenya. Of those, more than 500 patients have died. Currently, there are more than 18,000 Kenyans who have recovered from the virus and are out of the hospital. With a population of 52.5 million, the East African nation needs to act quickly if it wants to stop the coronavirus in its tracks.
However, Kenya’s hospitals lack the equipment required to fight the pandemic. Many hospitals are in desperate need of oxygen, gloves, waste storage and specialists who are familiar with the symptoms of the coronavirus. The situation is especially challenging in rural areas, where there is very little medical care for the people living away from big cities. Kenya’s Bungoma County is no exception, being one of the poorest counties in Kenya. Despite these challenges, Wamukota and his father stepped up in a big way to help out their community fight the coronavirus in Kenya.
The Hand-washing Machine
Held together by some nails and bits of wood lying around the outside his house, Wamukota’s hand-washing machine is a straightforward but smart design. It works by using two foot pedals at the base of the machine. When users step on one, it releases the soap into their hands, and the other pedal releases the water. This design allows those in the community to wash their hands and not have to touch the same surfaces as others to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
Wamukota thought of this design and implemented it with the help of his father. His father had wanted to use the wood to build a window, but that changed when he saw the work his son put into imagining the machine. Wamukota came up with the idea when he saw on the local news station that it was essential to wash your hands to keep safe from the virus. For his efforts, Wamukota received a presidential award, along with many others who have fought to contain the spread of the coronavirus in Kenya. Since receiving the award, Wamukota has expressed interest in going to college to be an engineer. In response, the governor of Bungoma County has offered him an engineering scholarship once he is old enough to attend college.
With limited resources and a strong drive to help those around him, Wamukota has shown that you don’t need much in order to make a difference in your community. While there is still much to do to fight the coronavirus in Kenya, both in the rural and urban areas, the country is making progress. This comes from the ingenuity of people like Wamukota, who are willing to do their part to keep their communities safe during these hard times.
– Sam Bostwick