Inspiring students at Wundiye Elementary School in Ethiopia have taken the lead in bringing toilets and clean water to their school for the first time with support from their community, WaterAid and funding from the Wimbledon Foundation.
Previously, there was no water facility for the 1,100 students, teachers and staff. They had to take it in turns to complete the 90-minute round trip to a spring at the bottom of a slippery, muddy path to fetch water that was contaminated with animal waste and often contributed to sickness.
The school now has water points and gender-segregated toilets with space dedicated to girls on their periods, and all with handwashing facilities and accessible for those with disabilities.
To achieve the dream of toilets in their school and clean water in their village, the teen school champions worked together with their team of dedicated plumbers, teachers, mechanics and village elders.
These leaders of the future have also formed a water and sanitation club at school with 150 members, meeting weekly for an hour. As well as teaching other students about handwashing and hygiene, they ensure the taps and toilets are kept clean and encourage the girls to be more open in talking about their periods. The club also has a room where emergency provisions are kept for girls who start their period at school.
Teen champion, 14-year old Addisae, manages the club’s fundraising and other financial activities.
“I am the finance minister of the school water and sanitation club. My responsibility is to raise funds to buy pads and supplies for girls to manage their periods and have also bought a mattress for the menstrual management room. We also teach the students on hygiene and sanitation. I am happy to be part of the club.”
One in four people around the world don’t have a decent toilet and a staggering one in ten do not have clean water close to home. In Ethiopia, almost four in ten of the country’s 99 million people don’t have clean water, affecting children’s health and education.
Pupils at Wundiye no longer miss school or get ill because of a lack of clean water and sanitation. This is helping unlock the potential of the whole school and is giving people a chance of a healthy future.
Timihirt Alem, 34, a teacher at the school who mentors the girls in the club said:
“I am delighted to be part of the water and sanitation club, and especially to be able to mentor the girls. The girls often come to me when they feel sick or when they need menstrual hygiene pads. They are no longer ashamed. I am happy to be part of this change. It is a great achievement to witness that girls are not missing class anymore because of their periods.”
Helen Parker, Head of the Wimbledon Foundation, said:
“Clean water is the bedrock of good health, keeping families and children safe from deadly diarrhoeal diseases. This is why the Wimbledon Foundation is committed to working with WaterAid so that clean water can ensure healthier futures for generations to come.”
Marcus Missen, Director of Communications and Fundraising at WaterAid, said:
“We are proud to support these inspiring teen champions pushing for change and transforming the community for generations to come. No-one should be denied access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene – they are vital for children to stay healthy and have the chance to realise their dreams.”
Stories and photographs from Wundiye in Ethiopia were on display in the Queue at Wimbledon as part of the Wimbledon Foundation’s partnership with WaterAid, which is helping to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for health centres, schools and communities in Ethiopia, Malawi and Nepal.