Education is life. A safe, clean toilet at school makes all the difference to Malichama, an enthusiastic student in Zambia.
Malichama is 18 years old and repeating grade nine in high school. He appears physically smaller than other children in his class, despite being two years older than most of them. Every day he walks 40 minutes, each way, to his school in a rural village of Zambia.
Malichama has been in and out of hospital for many years, and only recently did doctors discover that he had bleeding in his stomach and around his kidneys. This has severely stunted his growth and caused him to miss many days of school. Regardless, his huge smile lights up a room and he has an obvious enthusiasm for learning.
Illness is not the only challenge Malichama has faced in his relatively young life. By the age of three he had lost both his mother and father, forcing his nine year-old sister to assume the role of parent to him and his four siblings.
It is essential to Malichama's health, and ultimately his survival, that he has access to clean water and a safe, hygienic place to go to the toilet.
WaterAid was able to install a borehole in Malichama's village and a toilet in his home some years ago. "Before this it was difficult for my sister to care for me because I was sick so often." But the lack of safe, clean toilets at his school continued to make Malichama vulnerable to illness and disease.
Thankfully, WaterAid has just installed eight student toilet blocks, and one staff toilet block at Malichama's school. He is now able to attend school much more regularly.
Each toilet block is designated to specific year levels to meet the different needs of students of different ages. Outside each block is a handwashing facility and children learn about hygiene in the classroom.
"I see my education as my life. If I am to finish my education the doctors told me that I must always be healthy. The clean water and the toilets here at school and at home are very important for me to keep healthy."
View photos of Malichama at his school in rural village of Zambia.