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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 girls around the world!
Naim Frashëri Elementary School, Elbasan, Albania
Centrally located, Elbasan is Albania’s third largest city with roughly a quarter of the population living in the capital city, Tirana. Elbasan is home to 17 kopsht or kindergartens, 16 9-vjeçare or elementary/middle schools, and 12 gjmnaz or high schools. Elbasan is a diverse community, home to Albanians, Greeks, Turks, Americans, and Italians. Elbasan is essentially equally divided by gender, and ethnically the population is predominately Albanian (85%), with a little less than 1% identifying as Roma, Vlach, and Egyptian.
The Naim Frashëri, the oldest 9-vjeçare (elementary school) and first school in Elbasan, established in 1908 is the site for this project. It is home to a diverse 808 students from all walks of Albanian life. The school is comprised of boys and girls, with roughly half the students coming from poor and disadvantaged families. Three students are from Roma and 15 from Egyptian families, historically populations that are economically disadvantaged and underserved. In addition, fifty percent of the students live far from the school in villages that make leaving school to use the bathroom an impossibility.
Statistically, as is common in Albania and around the world, there are more males enrolled in this school than females, but only by a small margin. This is exacerbated by the poor sanitary conditions at the school. Both bathrooms are in disrepair, with few having a fully functional door (i.e., either the top or bottom half is missing), and none have a lock. Not having doors, much less locking doors, is a real deterrent to both boys and girls alike to use the facilities, but more so for the girls who use this as a reason to leave. None of the Turkish-style toilets work, the main sewage drain is constantly backing up, half the faucets do not work, the lighting is very poor, if functioning, and there is no glass in the girls' bathroom window, so that during the winter the bathroom is the same temperature as the outside, in addition to rain coming in. Half the sinks drain onto the floor, leaving the bathroom floors constantly wet and moldy. Due to the sewage line problem, the first floor often smells of sewage.
The Peace Corp volunteer has met with all classes in the school, morning and afternoon sessions, first through ninth grades, to introduce the students to the idea of the project. She is working on building community, school, parent and student support. A flyer was created for the students to take home. Signs were posted in the school and information is being posted on the school’s Facebook page to educate the school about this project.
This project is to rebuild two bathrooms at the school.
The plan is to replace all twelve bathroom stall doors with steel doors (a solidly constructed material which will withstand much use), install locking mechanisms on the inside of each new door, and replace all twelve of the current cistern toilet mechanisms with a simpler design (basically a large pipe with a flushing mechanism that allows water to go directly to the Turkish toilet to flush waste versus having a cistern which collects water and then releases water to flush). This version will last longer and require less water to use. The one missing sink and all six faucets, most of which are broken or difficult to turn on and off will be replaced. A light fixture will be installed in both bathrooms (the new fixtures will be energy efficient and the light output will be significantly brighter than the bulb that is currently functioning as the sole light source in each bathroom). Glass will be installed in the girls' bathroom window leading to the outside, and the second water deposit that is currently not connected will be connected, thereby providing double the water to the bathrooms.
The plan was created together with the President of the Parent Organization for the school.There is a community volunteer who is consulting on the project, an expert in the field of plumbing, electrical and metal work. He is giving his time to help determine what must be done and how to do the work. He is also helping with the implementation.
90% of the labor has been secured as in-kind donations for all of the needs for this project. The only labor that must be paid for is the labor needed to make and install the steel doors. There are several labor sources. The consultant will complete most of the plumbing labor plus install the new light fixtures; another volunteer will install the glass in the girl’s bathroom. The ninth grade class volunteered to paint both boys and girls bathrooms.
In addition, the Bashkia (Mayoral office) is partnering to clear out the sewage line. They will “roto-rooter” both main lines going through the boys and girls bathrooms, all the way to the main line. This is an expensive endeavor, one that they are fully contributing to the project. There are no materials needed for this, only the labor (all donated). At the end of the renovation, there will be a school-wide activity to introduce the school population to the improved bathrooms, in addition to offering hand washing and healthy lifestyle lessons and activities.
Family involvement and financial support was requested to help with the project. The families were asked to donate time, small amounts of money, in addition to supplies for the bathrooms (hand soap, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, trash cans, and brooms). The little children in classes first through third have been the most encouraging and excited for the project. When asked what the children thought of the current state of the bathrooms, overwhelmingly they responded that the bathrooms were “bad, dirty, broken, and not safe.” On the day that we stated that we would return for their donations, each class collected the items the students brought from home. Each class made a donation, from hand soaps, to bottles of cleaning supplies to money. The children were really proud to be an active part of the project. Impressively, the school brought in about $100 in bathroom supplies and $80 in monetary support. This is a lot coming from families who have very little. Many cleaning supplies have been collected, in addition to hand soap for the bathrooms. The school has promised that they will keep these supplies safe and keep the bathrooms clean and stocked.
It will take two weeks for the doors to be made and installed. The doors are being made and installed by a local steel construction company. During this time, the other necessary equipment and additional supplies will be purchased, all fom local small businesses in Elbasan. When the doors are ready to be installed, the glass; toilet flushing mechanisms, sinks, faucets and lighting will be installed, and the students will paint. The project will be finished with the installation of the doors.
Water Charity funding will specifically pay for materials: steel doors, toilet flushing mechanisms, locks for the doors, light fixtures, and paint, as well as the labor to install the doors. The funds collected from the community will purchase the one sink needed, glass for the girls' bathroom, faucets and drainpipes for the sinks. Labor has been secured for clean up, and the Bashkia will clean out the sewage line.
There are 850 students, teachers and school personnel who will be directly impacted. This project will also impact visitors and future students.
Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Monitoring and Maintenance
Laurel Duncan and the Parent Organization President will be overseeing the implementation of the project from beginning to end. They have met with all the students prior to submitting this proposal to find out what they thought and what they needed. Once the project is complete, the PCV will survey the students again to find out what they think about the completed project. The school has promised to oversee the renovated bathrooms and keep them clean and maintained. The Parent Organization is also committed to helping oversee the upkeep of the bathrooms.
This project particularly benefits the girls in the school. Because half the students come from villages outside Elbasan, girls are likely not to come to school on days that they have their period or other issues that might require many trips to the bathroom. The current state of the bathroom keeps girls from using the bathroom at school. There is no privacy, due to the broken doors, in addition to any way to feel safe in the bathroom, due to the lack of locking doors. In addition, this project will offer activities after the project is complete to talk about bathroom hygiene and healthy bathroom habits to keeping the students healthy.
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 the leading contributor to the program, as evidenced by projects like this one.
With the installation of doors, locks, and properly flushing toilets, the students, specifically the girls, will have a sense of security needed to know that they can go to school any day and have the facilities needed to complete their school day without worrying about needing to return home.
The PCV reports that Elbasan has been a wonderful site for her third year of service in Albania. "I have found much support and receptiveness to working and helping my new community. There are many projects to be done, but this is one in which I felt the most pull to fulfill for a secondary project. This project was brought to me and I was asked to help an Albanian colleague verses trying to find someone to create this project. The school has been extremely receptive and encouraging, and I could not have asked for a better group of people with whom to collaborate. Between my colleague and myself, we have managed to bring together many people to help with this project who would not have worked together, yet we have been able to garner much enthusiasm for the school. Elbasan established the first school for teachers for all of Albania in 1903. The city has a rich history of scholastic excellence. Yet, the schools are allowed to fall into disrepair: buildings, schoolyards, classrooms, and bathrooms alike are calling for intervention. But bathroom facilities are one issue that stands out as an important issue in regards to keeping students in school and concentrated on their schoolwork yet gets little attention and much less funding to fix than other areas."
Dollar Amount of Project
Donations Collected to Date
Dollar Amount Needed
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This project has been completed. To read about the conclusion, CLICK HERE.
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