“In some areas of Kilifi where I come from, a student can spend 15 minutes in line waiting to go to the bathroom,” began Shadrack Nyawa, speaking to over 1,000 delegates at the United Nations headquarters.
“Picture this scenario when a girl is menstruating. Imagine the indignity of the scenario.”
These thoughts haunted Mr Nyawa so much that he decided to do something about the problem. With help from the Rotary Club of Kilifi, he has managed to provide over 400 girls with a year’s supply of sanitary pads and four pairs of underwear each.
In addition, he has come up with efficient systems for identification of schools in need, and construction of 72 toilets in seven schools.
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Together with the WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) committee working there, they have installed water tanks that can collect about a year’s worth of rain water in schools that have a water problem, and connected schools to the county council water pipes where possible.
As a result, Nyawa was among six rotary members from different countries honoured at Rotary Day at the UN for coming up with innovations that have made a difference. The event was the first ever Rotary Day held in Africa, attracting over 1,000 delegates from different countries.
Speaking to the Sunday Standard, Rotary International President, Barry Rassin, said they were happy with the decision to bring it to Africa. “There is tremendous potential in Africa.”
“People are doing a lot of amazing things here, and I would say holding it here in Kenya has been a success,” he said.
“It is a new world, and we are now focused on young people, and making it relatable to them.” It is in this spirit that Nyawa and five other innovators under the age of 35 were honoured, under this year’s theme of “Youth Innovation: Crafting Solutions to Emerging Challenges.
Other issues addressed at the event included means of attaining the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the environment, leveraging technology for positive use, and the issue closest to the Rotary Club members’ heats worldwide: polio.