The Uhuru Torch is a Tanzanian national symbol meant to “bring hope where there is despair, love where there is enmity and respect where there is hatred.”First lit on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 1961 as a symbol of freedom (“uhuru” means freedom in Swahili), the torch now inspires Tanzanians with an annual run across the country, inaugurating selected development projects. On August 19, 2013, Africare/Tanzania’s WASH in Schools Project was honored when the Uhuru Torch lit up Ipagala “B” Primary School, the owners of five newly constructed latrine blocks.
Africare received support from a consortium of donors: the African Well Fund, H2O for Life, Procter & Gamble, and the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, to improve sanitation in 15 Tanzanian schools. Prior to the project, Ipagala “B” had only three drop-hole latrines, one for more than 700 boys, one for more than 700 girls, and one for the school’s 46 teachers. Mrs. Ndeni Swai, the school’s headmistress, shared that poor sanitation harmed the children’s performance and attendance, especially among girls. The five new blocks, consisting of 24 separate stalls, have substantially improved the stall- to-user ratio and have finally allowed students and teachers access to acceptable, distinct latrine facilities.
One schoolgirl told Africare staff that, “Teachers taught us about the effects of open defecation, but this was too theoretical because we did not have latrines and water facilities…It was hard for us to follow required principles for best hygienic practices.”
Africare’s feelings on the occasion are summed up best by Herbert Mugumya, Chief of Party for Africare/Tanzania’s Pamoja Tuwalee Orphans and Vulnerable Children project:
I could not hold back my tears of joy seeing the schoolchildren excited, happy and jubilating! It was a moment of high achievement as the school was descended on by the torch teams full of government officials and the host community in a moment of celebration. You could see the children streaming to the toilets happily and washing their hands after us. Congrats Ipagala “B” and the other 14 schools that received the same sanitary facilities!
Shine on Ipagala “B”!