Project Update: Bathrooms in Akatim
Every traveler has a “squatty potty” story, or maybe even one about open defecation. Most people run into these experiences when traveling abroad, usually to Asia or Africa. That’s exactly what it should be; an experience. Not every day life. Sanitation and hygiene are a basic human right, and it’s time that we start empowering the community of Akatim as such.
Not familiar with a squatty potty? Well, here’s what it currently looks like in Akatim. Balancing on two thin, wooden boards over a ditch of human waste. The smell is often times unbearable and bugs are flying around to the point where sometimes, you just can’t take it and opt to go out in the open. Balancing a flashlight in one hand and a roll of toilet paper in the other, anything can happen.
Some have asked why it has taken us so long to get this project going. We always refer back to part of our mission when answering this; we strive to make our projects and programs sustainable. Now that the school is well-functioning with a phenomenal Headmaster and staff, the community has been steadily supporting its progress and we have been able to take attention off of opening communication lines in order to place effort elsewhere. Change can only become sustainable through buy-in, and now that there is buy-in at the Akatim Village School, the community is primed to move forward, starting with bathrooms. What we create and teach here will distribute itself into the rest of the community through students and PTA members, empowering each other to create change for themselves.
The Actual Structure
The structure at the school will consist of six stalls. One for faculty and staff, two for boys, two for girls, and one for small children (kindergarten age). A Biotech system will be utilized for disposal. This is a cost-effective and easier to maintain option that perfectly suits the Akatim Village School. The system itself operates on the principles of aerobic decomposition, where natural organisms break down waste into useful end products. It works by creating an environment similar to that of a forest floor. The flushed waste is first directed into the filtration digester. Effluent portions are quickly separated from the solid matter and go through various filtration stages so it can simply be drained without harming the surrounding environment. Solid waste is then decomposed by a population of macro and microorganisms. The finished structure will look something like this:
We are thrilled to announce that we have far exceeded our fundraising goal for this project (over $7,000 raised) and are excited at the prospects of moving forward in other areas of Akatim as well. The Biotech System has been completed and the masons are now transporting materials in to put up the walls and complete the rest of structure. We expect the completion of this project to be in August.
So you have a structure, then what?
While the masons are hard at work building the stalls, our team of volunteers are putting in overtime under our Global Health Education Manager, Courtney Jost, in an effort to be ready to rollout a concurrent WASH program that coincides with the commissioning of the bathrooms. WASH stands for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, and is being developed to meet the standards of UNICEF’s programming around the world. By teaching best practices at the Akatim Village School through interactive lessons, creative arts, and more, the students can take what they learn home to their parents and distribute this new knowledge into their community, taking charge, building autonomy, and creating sustainable change through empowering others.
We would like to sincerely thank everyone for rallying around this project, and we can’t wait to see the village’s transformation, keeping students happy, healthy, and in school, where they can gain the knowledge that’s needed in order to change the world!
CEO & Co-Founder
The Senase Project