What a toilet means to 16-year-old Mbete

Mbete’s school and community got toilets and safe water for first time. Now, with her most basic needs met, Mbete will no longer have to worry about embarrassment associated with a monthly menstrual cycle. She now has privacy, safety, and the dignity that comes with a toilet. She can instead focus on her education and opportunities for a better life.

Meet 16-year-old Mbete Mutesya. She is in Class 7 at Mutairu Primary school in Ngomeni, Kenya. Ngomenia is a water scarce and climatically tough environment to live in. Apart from subsistence farming, Mbete’s family has no other means of earning a living and they are dependent on the seasonal rains.

Mbete used to walk three miles to school every day for three years until she got tired and came to reside with an auntie who lives close to her school. She is the youngest in a family of seven. Her mother is a widow. Her daily routine begins at 5:30 a.m. She eats, gets ready for school, checks her face in the mirror, and runs down the dangerous path to school.

Being an adolescent girl in this area — especially from a poor family — is hard. Because there are not separate sanitation facilities at school for boys and girls, there is no privacy for girls to tend to their needs or deal with soiled clothes when menstruating. The resulting embarrassment and anxiety causes girls to give up on school. Because water is hard to come by, the lack of water to use during her menstrual period is another one of the many challenges Mbete and other girls her age face. The girls have had many embarrassing incidents in front of their male classmates during this time and the boys tease them. This results in the girls skipping school for a week during their periods, and therefore negatively affecting their education performance.

Water.org and its local partner ADRA recently worked with Mbete’s school and community to get toilets and safe water for first time, last month! A borehole well and community latrines in her village were just completed. Now, with her most basic needs met, Mbete will no longer have to feel ashamed or embarrassed at certain times of the month. She now has privacy, safety, and the dignity that comes with a toilet. She can instead focus on her education and opportunities for a better life. Thank you for making this program possible!

Capital city: Nairobi
Population of 45 million
17.5 million lack safe water
31.7 million have no sanitation services
Infant mortality rate of 4.1%
43.4% live in poverty

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