At Crater Primary School in Nakuru Town, pupils line up in the bathroom area. Before entering the pit latrines, they are issued with a tissue paper by a cleaner on location.
After using the toilets, each pupil washes his or her hands with a bar soap and running water from a plastic tank placed on the walls of the bathrooms.
The same thing happens in several other schools in Nakuru County, including Elite Academy, Lake View Academy and Peace Makers Academy. In these schools, the toilets are cleaned and disinfected in the morning, mid-day and evening by the day stationed cleaner for safety of the pupils.
This project, dubbed Adopt-A-Loo is the brainchild of Lilian Kings, a woman who has embarked on cleaning and disinfecting primary school toilets in Nakuru County, after she lost her own child to cholera. Because she cannot afford to pay all workers in various schools, she trains school cleaners on best cleaning practices.
She personally engages in the cleaning: “When some of my friends find me scrubbing dirty school walls, they get irritated. But I am not bothered because I know the importance of children staying in a clean environment,” says the mother of six.
She mixes water with Jik as a disinfectant, sprays toilet handles, doorknobs and other areas which children often touch. Adopt-A-Loo programme started at Crater Primary School in 2012 after the Nakuru Water Services Company disconnected supply due to an accumulated bill of Sh600,000.
The school headteacher Justine Okuto says the defunct municipal council used to pay for the bill before free primary education.
After disconnection, the school’s headteacher Justine Okuto called for an urgent Annual General Meeting and apportioned the bill among parents, but nobody was willing to pay up. Each parent was required to pay Sh900 for re-connection.
King, who was a parent at the school, tried to convince other parents to pay the money as the school could not operate without water. No one listened.
As the parents argued with the school’s administration, Kings’ mind flashed back to 1997 when she lost her two-and-a-half-years-old daughter while residing in Kisumu County.
After the meeting, she started reporting to the school everyday carrying cleaning papers, tissue papers and disinfectants.
“Memories of my daughter came to mind. I was short of words and all I wanted was to see the school compound and toilets clean,” she says.
In 1997, her daughter drank, without her knowledge, the raw water she (Kings) had fetched from Lake Victoria. She died a few hours before she could be taken to hospital. (Cholera kills within three to four hours of infection).
“My child was a victim of unhygienic practices. People use lake water to wash clothes and other dirty things. The contaminated water goes back to the lake and it is later consumed,” she says.
The death of her daughter haunted her because friends, relatives and the surrounding community mocked her saying she was a “dirty woman”.
She identifies a school, talks to the headteacher, the pupils and teachers on hygiene and on how to become their brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.