Access to adequate sanitation facilities in Malawi’s Primary Schools is a big challenge. Only 23% of the schools have adequate sanitation facilities which impact young girls the most. Lack of change rooms in schools means that they stay home during the menstruation period which is at least one week of absenteeism per month. Continuous absenteeism discourages girls from continuing their education and end up dropping out of school. Once a girl drops out of school; they end up getting married which leads to teenage pregnancy, reducing their chances of becoming skilled, employable women.
To ensure girls remain in school, Gift of the Givers Foundation constructs change rooms and toilets in rural primary schools. Phanda Primary School in Ngozo village, Mwanza district has an enrolment of 973 students, 59% of whom are girls. However, the school had inadequate toilets and no changing rooms for the girls. Gift of the Givers constructed six toilets and two changerooms at this school, ensuring girls have a decent and safe space for their menstrual hygiene.
One of the girls from Standard 8 said, "We spend long hours at school doing extra classes as we are about to write Primary School Leaving Certificate exams. We come to school as early as 6 am and leave at 6 pm. Without the changerooms, it was very difficult to stay at school for such long hours while menstruating. Now we have these changerooms and we are not worried about long hours at school anymore. “
Whilst battling to cope with the pandemic sweeping the country, Malawi was also subject to a disastrous flood and high storm winds which destroyed homes and crops in a number of regions. Responding to the disaster playing out, Gift of the Givers moved teams into eight affected districts, providing those affected with food, clothing, shoes, kitchen utensils, family hygiene kits and seed for the eventual replanting of damaged fields.
Simultaneously, while responding to local disasters, the Gift of the Givers team continues to promote improved hygiene at schools. In 2021, the organisation was responsible for the construction of 60 toilets and 20 change-rooms at 10 rural schools in the Mulanje and Neno Districts of the country, benefiting no fewer than 10 500 learners.
Ntonda Primary School in rural Blantyre has 1600 students with no direct access to water, a shortage of classrooms which resulted in lessons being conducted under the trees, and not minimal sanitation facilities.
Gift of the Givers delivered a number of items to improve their learning environment.
Receiving the donation was the Chief Education Officer for Blantyre District, Mrs Rebecca Misili, as well as other officials.
Mrs Misili thanked Gift of the Givers for the timely donation as Covid-19 regulations stipulate that schools are allowed to open only if they have access to water. Therefore, Ntonda Primary School learners will be allowed to attend school thanks to the water system installed.
Four other schools in rural Blantyre have received this gift, exceeding our initial target of 1000 female beneficiaries. 8000 school children, both girls, boys and school teachers benefit from the WASH project.
We thank our donors for their support!
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