Youth Fix Broken School Toilets To Restore Dignity
Port Elizabeth, 17 January 2017: With 49% of public schools having either no sanitation facilities or being forced to use pit toilets, the state of sanitation at public schools appears to be dire. While at school, many South African learners endure poor sanitation facilities and limited access to water or a complete lack of both, which can negatively impact their ability to be taught and further their education.
Students at Masiphathisane Secondary School in Mothewell, in the Eastern Cape, have faced similar challenges, but chose not to let it the situation deteriorate further and made a plan to improve the sanitation facilities and restore dignity to the 1850 students at the school.
“Our school has really good administration, management and education standards, but unfortunately there is not enough money to go around for everything that needs attention,” one of the students at the school said.
Increasing learner numbers has stretched the school to capacity on many fronts. Education remains a priority over comfort, which has resulted in the lack of functioning toilets for the past three years.
With a clear goal and the support of teachers, parents and external volunteers, a group of 20 grade 11 students from Masiphathisane Secondary School embarked on what they called, Project Heavenly Hygiene. The students behind the initiative were inspired by the Youth4Change Movement, a country-wide initiative run by WNS South Africa that sees youth uplift their own communities through their own efforts.
WNS South Africa, through the WNS Cares Foundation, provided the students with starter capital and committed a group of 20 employees as volunteers to assist and mentor the youth throughout the project.
The group of young people commenced the project in May 2016 and were determined to make a success of it, receiving additional leadership development and guidance from Khulisa Social Solutions, a non-profit organisation WNS had selected to partner with for the initiative.
The youth were given practical project planning experience and implemented a number of fundraising initiatives to meet their end goal. These activities included a Mr and Miss Masiphatisane Competition, an Entrepreneurship Market Day, car washes and a special intimate breakfast with South African celebrity, PJ Powers.
Despite facing many obstacles and dealing with a few disappointments, the students persevered and through sheer determination they were able to raise a staggering R40 000 in funds to complete the project.
“As a group of enthusiastic youths, we have decided not to sit on our hands, but rather use them to make a difference in our community. In keeping to our motto, “from the youth, for the youth, by the youth”, we never lost hope that together we will make a success of this project and achieve our goal,” one of the students involved in the project said.
The 20 students who embarked on the project were tested both physically and emotionally. Their personal sacrifices and physical labour to perform tasks many other young people would consider to be dirty work, all paid off in the end.
“I sacrificed both my June and September school holidays and my weekends to clean and paint toilets,” another learner said.
Through their tireless efforts the students were able to achieve their goal and restore all of their school’s broken toilets to working order, leaving a lasting legacy for future students for years to come.
“Now our school has more hygienic toilets for all students to use. The toilets are also safer to use for girls, unlike the previous ones that caused many infections for us,” a relieved student remarked.
Megan Meredith, Corporate Social Investment Manager for WNS South Africa, says that the success achieved by students of Masiphathisane Secondary School is testament to the greatness that is achievable when a sacrifice meets teamwork and dedication. “This achievement is no small feat, and many other youth can learn a lesson from these inspirational students, especially given the poor sanitation facilities at schools across the country,” she says.
“We hope that the achievement of these 20 remarkable young people will inspire and motivate other youth to not be satisfied with their current circumstances, but to get up and make a positive change in their respective communities. There is still so much that can be done and we are committed to helping young people who are not afraid to work to make a positive difference for the benefit of their local community,” Meredith concludes.
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About WNS South Africa
WNS Global Services SA (Pty) Ltd has been in operation since 2003 and has built a reputation as the industry leading Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Company in South Africa, with a growing footprint into Africa. We are a strategic partner for delivering a full range of basic to complex business processes from our eight delivery centres across South Africa, employing 4 000+ people.
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