This project would fund the construction of an 6-cabin latrine at our local middle school, consisting of 2 cabins each for male and female students, 1 cabin each for male and female teachers, and a handwashing station. The addition of this facility would contribute to the public health of our community and hopefully increase attendance and participation in our classrooms. It is our goal to ensure that every student has the right to be educated in a safe, secure environment. The local middle school where I teach English serves one of the largest student populations in the region. As a result, our school enjoys certain advantages like a sizeable teaching staff, many classrooms, and a large campus. What is surprising for such a large school is our lack of sanitation facilities, notably latrines. Students and teachers needing to relieve themselves are forced to practice open defecation or else miss valuable classroom time by going home during the school day. This situation is detrimental for all students, but provides additional challenges for female students. Without a private place to handle sanitation needs, girls going through menstruation often choose to stay home rather than face the possibility of humiliation or unclean facilities at school. In a country that already deals with many barriers to girls’ education, this can be a major obstacle for development work.
Our middle school community is dedicated to making this project a success. The Director of our establishment, along with the Parents’ Association, has designated the lack of latrines as the most important issue requiring attention at our school. Several meetings of the Parents’ Association Board and interested stakeholders (myself, the Director, several counterparts) have established our commitment to the project, approval of the final design, approval of location, and the structure of our 25% community contribution to the project. Our plan is to meet this level of contribution primarily through volunteer labor and donation of construction supplies. The main sustainability concern with this project is the commitment of the school community to properly use and maintain the facilities well after the novelty of this project has worn off. In terms of usage, we hope that our trainings and informational sessions will motivate students to take full use of the new facilities. In terms of maintenance, we are working on plans with the school administration to incorporate latrine maintenance as part of the already-existent ‘manual labor’ system used to keep the campus looking nice. In addition, the Parents' Association at our school has agreed to cover all future costs related to upkeep of the latrine facilities (repairs, drainage, etc.).