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This project is made possible through the partnership of Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association.
Vau Dejes, Shkoder Region, Albania
Vau Dejes is the largest town in the newly formed municipality "Bashkia" in Shkoder Region of Northern Albania. It has a population of roughly 7,000. The community is very poor, with one main street running through town for several blocks. At its center is the Mother Teresa statue and a Catholic Church. Each side of the street is lined with small shops,coffee places and individual simple businesses. Many villagers have small farms and grow their own fruits and vegetables for family consumption as well as for sale. While they are poor, there is a welcoming spirit and a willingness to help others when asked. There is also a lot of pride in being Albanian and living in the North.
School Vau Dejes serves 577 students; half of those are girls, and there is a staff of 47, which includes 43 teachers. The school itself is visually in bad shape with plaster crumbling and broken windows. Both inside and outside the school, it is obvious there are opportunities to improve the daily life of the students and people who work there. If you ask anyone about the school, they will agree with you that the school needs help to become a more inviting environment in which students can learn and grow.
The School Vau Dejes is one of 6 schools within the municipality. It has 19 non-functioning bathrooms, some with no water and some with toilets that don’t flush, which are in severe disrepair. The walls are crumbling, windows in the girls' bathrooms are broken, and there are no locks on the doors. The environment is unsafe and there is little or no water. Many girls "hold it" until school is over. This can lead to health issues of bladder infections and other problems. Also, if girls or boys leave school to go home or go somewhere else to use a bathroom, they often won't return to finish their school day.
Safety, hygiene and improved learning environment are all being affected by the "catastrophe" conditions (as described by the new Mayor) in the school. This newly elected Mayor has made the schools and school bathrooms his first and top priority since his election at the end of June.
When the initial walk through of the bathrooms was done with the Mayor's staff, several students, teachers and school director, the new Mayor talked about the vision for having new bathrooms as part of his plan to improve the school. He also emphasized the importance of taking care of the new facilities as the beginning of "changing the mindset of the students."
The project will encompass replacing 19 toilets; installing door locks, fixing the broken windows in the girl's section, repairing walls, and painting and other minor bathroom repairs. It entails cooperation across the Bashkia (Local Municipality), the school, Peace Corps and Water Charity.
Along with the physical work being done, several older students from the high school ("gjimnaz") will be involved to help with the new hygiene practices. This will include communicating proper hand washing, why it's important, and what it means to "respect the bathroom facilities."
All physical labor will be provided through the Bashkia staff and some outside construction support. This will include the work of the plumber, general contractor, architect and support staff. Funds from Water Charity will support the purchase of plumbing supplies and the toilets (which are a combination of Western and Turkish toilets to keep the costs down). Door locks will be installed on all stalls, giving
privacy and safety to girls and all students.
Because there is so much work to be done, and many toilets to be installed, the the Community Contribution greatly exceeds the required 25%. The Bashkia will provide all of the labor and they will also be securing additional funds to cover the expenses of materials required beyond the budget.
Peace Corps and students will jointly deliver the training of the new practices. Education on hand washing and sanitation will be given to students, teachers and support staff. Parents will also be invited to attend sessions.
Monitoring and Maintenance
The cleanliness, supplies and safety will be the responsibility of the school and will require monitoring. The janitors and Director will support and inspect the restrooms.
Bashkia Vau Dejes (local municipality) is participating in the planning and execution, and will fund over half the project.
The overall project will create positive education and focused implementation of new bathrooms, which together will create a healthier and safer environment for learning for girls and all students.
This project is part of the LET GIRLS LEARN program sponsored by FLOTUS Michelle Obama. It is intended to have a positive effect in keeping girls in school after they reach adolescence. Lack of clean facilities is a leading cause of women dropping out of school. Water Charity is proud to have sponsored the very first LGL project, and continues to be a leading contributor to the program, as evidenced by projects like this one.
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