Maqellare School Water and Bathroom Project – Albania
This project is made possible through the partnership of Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association.
This is a project under the LET GIRLS LEARN Program, a collaboration of First Lady Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps to expand access to education for adolescent girls around the world!
Maqellare is a small town of around 7,000 inhabitants in Northern Albania. Situated in a region called Diber, this area is one of the poorest in Albania, and its isolation from the rest of the country has resulted in a lack of economic and women’s rights development in relation to the rest of the country. However, with the construction of a new highway, the area is primed to become a hub of Balkan transit from Albania’s capital of Tirana to Macedonia, Kosovo, and beyond. Therefore, it is a moment of touristic, cultural, and economic significance in the region and the community needs better education facilities and opportunities to meet these future changes.
According to the entire staff and student body of Maqellare 9-Year School, the restoration of the school’s restroom is a necessity. The school has no running water, no doors, and no toilet apparatus at all for its restrooms. Instead, there are simply open sewage pipes that are used for restroom purposes, and no cleaning takes place at all during school hours. Only after school has finished, the cleaning staff has the means to fetch water via a nearby well and clean the restrooms. This pollutes the hallways with unbearable smells.
These conditions cause students to leave school for bathroom purposes, which wastes valuable education time, and, furthermore, students often do not return to school at all after these bathroom trips. As these students are unsupervised when they leave the school, this presents a significant safety danger to the students and exposes them at an early age to cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs during school hours. Perhaps most importantly, these conditions pose a significant health hazard to the students’ health, and these poor condition nurture poor sanitary behaviors that will stay with the students in the future. For example, the lack of running water does not allow for students to wash their hands after using the restroom, and not doing so at school teaches them poor behaviors that are sure to persist in the future.
In terms of the health and safety of the community’s girls, the lack of doors especially poses a significant safety hazard each time that the girls use the restroom, as they are at a high risk for sexual assault. In addition, these conditions do not accommodate the needs of girls during menstruation, which causes them to leave school or, as is often the case, not attend school at all during menstruation due to the lack of proper restroom facilities. Especially in a community like Maqellare where women’s rights have not yet been given the attention that they deserve, these issues are amplified, as the casual mistreatment of women leaves the specific needs of girls to be unheard and unresolved by the community. Therefore, the installation of these doors, running water, and proper toilet apparatuses will engender a safer and more accommodating learning environment for these young women.
Once the funding is received, Director Qoku and Peace Corp Volunteer Sho Tsubakiyama will purchase the desired materials from a local seller in the community. All funds will be used to procure the materials needed to install four doors, four sinks, four toilets, and a water deposit. In advance, Director Qoku has worked to make a detailed budget with the plumber in order to anticipate all the needs of the project and prevent the possibility of future material needs. Within a week thereafter, the plumber will begin the installation of the restroom equipment, and the doors will be installed. Director Qoku and staff will help monitor the project and ensure that the work is completed within the proposed one-month time frame.
The plumber and other construction-experienced parents have agreed to donate the necessary labor and will begin by removing the existing tiles in the bathrooms to restore the plumbing and install the toilets and sinks. Once this is completed, the bathrooms will be re-tiled, and the team will begin to construct a pipe to a new water deposit. The school already has a pump but no means to store this water and cannot keep this pump operating 24/7 due to the expensive costs of electricity. Therefore, the new deposit will be installed to provide continuous running water for the students and staff in the future. The volunteer plumber and other community members have all the necessary equipment to carry out these objectives.
With the construction of the facilities completed, the local health promotion department will hold a training for students and staff regarding proper hand washing and sanitation concerns that they should be aware of when using the restroom. Director Qoku will be responsible for organizing the staff and students to attend the event, while the local health promotions department will be responsible for the content and presentation for the event.
This project will directly benefit 553 people, consisting of 517 students and 36 teachers, plus visitors to the school.
Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Monitoring and Maintenance
Maqellare 9-Year School will be responsible for monitoring and maintenance, and will ensure the longevity of the bathrooms for the students.
Maqellare 9-Year School is the beneficiary of the project, and the school’s director is working with Sho Tsubakiyama, the Peace Corps Volunteer directing project to see it to completion.
The following is a message from Sho Tsubakiyama, Peace Corps Volunteer directing this project:
To me, this region of Albania has quickly become a second home. Coming from Los Angeles, I always lived by the beach and never experienced the seasons. However, here, in this mountainous region of Albania we get cold winters, have clear, star-filled skies, and I’ve met some of the kindest and most welcoming people that I have ever come to know in my life. Each time I hike into the villages, people open their doors to me and invite me in for coffee. Due to the tight knit and friendly nature of the community, any walk about town lasts double or even triple the amount of time that one would normally expect, as friends and acquaintances greet each other in the streets and exchange warm inquiries about each other’s health, life, and family, the latter being of exceptional importance to Albanian people. Therefore, from the area’s natural beauty to its affectionate people, the Diber region has tremendous touristic and economic potential that is yearning for the development and change that the new road will offer. As businesses are being opened and expanded to anticipate this future, this project looks to provide better learning opportunities for community’s youth, as they will be the greatest beneficiaries of this change and their preparedness will dictate how far the city will develop during this time of growth.
This project is part of the “100 Water Projects” program that Water Charity is pursuing in Albania as a major thrust of the LGL initiative.
Donations Collected to Date
Dollar Amount Needed
This project has been completed. To read about the conclusion, CLICK HERE. We are still requesting donations.