Conclusion of Jani Bocova School Bathroom and Water Project – Albania
This project has been completed under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteer Teresa Anderson. To read about the start of the project, CLICK HERE.
The project was to build a bathroom block at the school, including building walls, installing windows, bringing water to the bathrooms, installing new faucets and piping, replacing the sewer pipes, and installing a water storage tank and pump.
As other former Balkan countries accede to the EU, the plight of Albania remains extreme. Despite the Western images projected by the country’s leadership, the living standards in the villages are low. This is still a developing country where the average public employee in a professional position earns about $300 per month. In addition, the provision of public facilities is worse than under the repressive communist regime, from which it emerged 25 years ago.
The conditions in the bathrooms of the schools we have been working in have been appalling. So much so that most of the children either go home to use the toilet, or to nearby bars, which is a huge safety issue. In addition, adolescent girls usually stay home when they are menstruating, as there is unlikely to be running water, the toilets have been broken for years and there are no doors on the toilet stalls. This of course affects their education.
In addition, it has been a hygiene risk for all the students, as nobody can wash their hands during school time. Lessons on the importance of basic hygiene and hand washing do not stick when there is no water or soap or a useable bathroom, and disease transmission is high in the schools.
Water Charity and the Let Girls Learn initiative has been a lifeline for provision of a regular water supply and sanitation in the schools. After a pilot project, in which a local public-spirited plumber stepped up to donate his time, the municipality saw the benefits and decided to donate the labor for this project. It has taken a little longer than anticipated as the mayor changed in September last year, so we have had to wait while the municipality ordered their priorities. However, we are now delighted to report that the project at Jani Bocova school in Afrim I Ri is complete.
The water cistern and pump enable water to be available all day despite the water schedule, for flushing the toilets and hand washing. The cleaner has been educated in proper techniques for cleaning the toilets.
The teachers and students have been enthusiastic about hygiene education, organizing a school-wide event with the help of the school nurse from the Public Health department. We enabled the school nurse to take responsibility for all the education for this project, so she now feels involved and committed. She has mobilized the parent council to help with painting the new bathrooms, and to outreach to other parents about the importance of caring for the new bathrooms and hygiene.
In total over 1,200 people have been affected directly or indirectly by this project this year alone, with many more in the future.
Thank you to Water Charity and the Let Girls Learn initiative for enabling this project.
We are grateful to Teresa for completing this project. We extend our thanks to Teresa and her husband Graham for their outstanding Peace Corps service.