Conclusion of Sheq i Madh School Bathroom and Water Project – Albania
To read about the beginning of the project, CLICK HERE.
At the beginning, the intent was to complete the bathrooms for this small school before the start of the school year. In reality, all the resources from the Bashkia (Town Hall) were diverted to other (school) projects and so nothing was done before school started. This problem was compounded when the investigation into what was needed showed that the floor of the whole bathroom block had collapsed. As time went by everybody adopted the same approach that is endemic in Albania, namely to accept the status quo, blame the government and expect nothing to change.
Six months further on, with the Water Charity funds, transmitted through the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn program, still in the bank, another inspection of the school showed the toilets had deteriorated further and that urgent work was needed before the grant money needed to be returned, unspent. Some tense negotiations rendered the availability of a work crew and the hard work began.
Once everybody started pulling in the same direction, the whole project came together surprisingly quickly. The toilet block was gutted and all the doors and facilities removed. Holes in walls and gaping windows were soon repaired and the 5 Turkish toilets cemented into the floor. The tiling was done very quickly and the new basins connected to the water supply almost immediately. Instead of repairing the wooden doors, some recycled aluminum doors were found and installed, rendering the toilets secure and lockable, going to the heart of Let Girls Learn. Without this security, adolescent girls often avoid using the bathroom or, more likely when they are menstruating, avoid school completely, impacting their education and their future.
The water pump was installed to ensure strong pressure but, good news, the water schedule was such that there was no need to install the water deposit that had been budgeted for the project, so we have been able to return that money for use elsewhere. The final piece of the puzzle has been to educate the cleaners in how to clean the bathrooms professionally, as opposed to flooding the place with gallons of water that ultimately damages the facilities. This education and that of the teachers and students in proper use of the toilets together with involvement of the parents in providing ongoing supplies for their upkeep has been done by the Public Health Department’s school nurse. Her work is clearly ongoing.
After a six-month delay, Sheq I Madh has functional bathrooms that a parent recently confided “had never worked even when I was at school”. This project directly affects 250 students and the influence on siblings and other community members is huge. The legacy of this project will live on for generations of schoolchildren in Fier.
We are grateful to Graham for completing this great project. He has just completed his Peace Corps service, and we wish him the best.