Serving almost 1000 kids and staff, you can only imagine the difficulty in keeping on top of hygiene and sanitation.
Kanguya tells us:
“The toilets before were the traditional ones just holes in the ground. …we just had two toilets and grade one to grade nine were using them. It’s a lot of people. It should be 25 students to one toilet for boys, but 480-something boys were sharing the same toilet.”
For Regina and her friends, in particular, going to school at the wrong time could be embarrassing.
“During menstruation some of the girls didn’t come to school. They thought maybe will be laughed at by others. I think they didn’t know … no one has the right to laugh at others. It’s just natural.”
Menstruation is highly stigmatized in Zambia, which is why Village Water Zambia (VWZ) conducts trainings with teachers and pupils, to help open-up taboo issues amongst both boys and girls.
Regina has had a tough time, she’s been at Lui for 4 years but her two sisters died in a fire accident and she’s been traumatized by that. She’s very close to her parents who are teachers.
The first time I talked to my mum about menstruation was because I was scared as I didn’t know this thing. I told her ‘Mum, I have started’, so she started buying pads for me. And now I feel good when I’m coming here at school because I can be myself.”
When we met Kanguya, he’d been studying at Lui for three years. He also lives on the grounds.
My father is in Mongu and my mother is on the other side of Kaoma. It’s easier for me to live here because they are very far. I enjoy living here though. My favourite subject is science. I like science because I want to become a doctor.”
Then Kanguya said something that hit home.
Everyone in the world should have safe water and toilets because they are human beings, they should have the same thing. Equality. We should be equal.”
And that’s why we’re all here. Supporting the same cause. Everyone deserves to be equal.
VWZ has installed a new solar pump feeding a 5000L water tank. The school now has 10 new latrines, 6 with flushable toilets and plenty of taps around the school. As a result of the new facilities more girls like Regina feel comfortable and happy at school.
Last year we achieved 100% reduction in absenteeism in the schools we worked in, all due to sensitive training on menstruation and safe water.