The new stalls decorated for the inauguration
Tomás Pacay Mendoza is the coordinator of Pueblo a Pueblo’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools project. For months, Tomás and his team have been coordinating efforts between administrators at Agua Escondida Primary School, local community groups, international funders, and a construction team to build a new bathroom facility for students. On May 14, after months of planning and weeks of execution, Tomás and members of the Pueblo a Pueblo team traveled to Agua Escondida to celebrate the inauguration of the school’s new bathroom facility!
The school is attended by almost 600 students from Kindergarten through high school. For years, there have only been five working toilets in the whole school for students to use. But during recent construction, contractors tore down a bank of two unused toilets and built a new bank of stalls in their place. The girls' side of the new facility has three new toilets and a handwashing station, and the boys' side has two new toilets, a urinal, and a new handwashing station. These new facilities will double the number of working toilets at the school, creating a safer and healthier learning environment for the students of Agua Escondida—certainly a reason to celebrate!
The inauguration ceremony began in the school’s large multipurpose room. The walls were covered with posters made by students, each which depicted a different way in which students can take care of their earth and their school. Several were variations on the theme “How We Can Take Care of the New Bathrooms” and encouraged students to place trash in the trash can, sweep the stalls each day, and remember to flush!
During the ceremony, school administrators honored Tomás and Pueblo a Pueblo Administrative Director Ana Cabrera. After brief remarks from a variety of school and community leaders, the audience was treated to two different performances related to the themes of the day: environmentalism and hygiene. First, a third grade class performed a short musical parable called “The Earth has a Fever” about a planet and the humans that nearly destroy it—and then save it! Then, a group of sixth graders performed a play about the danger of pollution to our health—and the importance of keeping our homes, businesses, and streets clean.
Afterwards, the ceremony moved outside to the new bathrooms, decorated for the occasion by members of a local community group. The school’s principal invited Ana to cut the ribbon on the five new stalls and two new handwashing stations now available for students to use! Once he had unlocked the bathroom stalls, the principal encouraged the students gathered around to take a look inside.
Building these five new bathroom stalls is only the first phase of Pueblo a Pueblo’s collaboration with Agua Escondida. Next, our team will help to coordinate the demolition and reconstruction of a second bank of bathroom stalls in the school’s lower level, where Agua Escondida's youngest learners attend class. Thanks to donors like you, we were able to complete Phase One—now we need your help to carry out Phase Two! Your support fuels our success—thank you for believing in the power of proper sanitation to keep kids happy, healthy, and learning every day.
Before the new construction
After: two new handwashing stations
Students gather for the inauguration ceremony
Tomas and Ana receive a gift from school leaders
School and community partners at the new stalls