For the first time, Blessing and Yusuf now have handwashing facilities in their school

Blessing Sunday
Image: WaterAid Magaji Barde

People with disabilities face significant barriers in their daily lives; and far greater challenges in accessing safe water, sanitation and hygiene services. They are often already isolated from the outside world, missing out on public hygiene and health campaigns which tend to be geared towards people without disabilities. Moreso, public health and hygiene campaigns are rarely targeted to the context and specific requirements of persons living with disabilites, exacerbating the inequities that already exist in hygiene promotion and access. Those who rely on a carer to help them with daily tasks face either the risk of added exposure to diseases such as COIVD-19 through their carer, or an inability to get the help they so badly need in challenging times.

Under the Scale-Up Hygiene project, WaterAid installed a handwashing facility at the Special Education Centre in Yelwa, Bauchi State – a residential school for blind and deaf students. Hygiene packs were distributed to all 900 students to help them protect themselves from the coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

Yusuf Danjuma, 16, is a blind student at the Special Education Centre in Bauchi. Yusuf explains how he felt at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how he feels now with the newly installed handwashing facility in his school.

Image: WaterAid/Magaji Barde

“I heard about the coronavirus disease from my science teacher and from the radio. I was worried when the pandemic started because the schools were closed and I could not continue with my studies or mingle with my friends.

“This is the first time that we will have handwashing stations in our school and I am very happy that we now have them. I used to think that we were not remembered but now I feel loved and well catered for. With the face masks and handwashing stations provided, I feel safe and I think it will reduce the spread of the virus. In the future, I will love to have renovated toilets with water outlets in my school.”

Blessing John, 18, is head girl at the Special Education Centre in Yelwa, Bauchi State. Blessing explained that before the handwashing facility was installed, she had to walk long distances to fetch water from the borehole to wash her hands. This was extremely difficult as she is blind. The handwashing facility installed by WaterAid in her school has helped her overcome much of this difficulty however, and frequent handwashing is now easier.

Blessing Sunday
Image: WaterAid/Magaji Barde

“I heard about the coronavirus disease from my school teachers. I was initially afraid when I heard that people were dying from the coronavirus in other countries and I thought we would die too. We only had a small handwashing bucket in the school.

“I am happy that we now have a handwashing station, and it is right by our hostels and classrooms. We will no longer have to trek to the borehole to get water to wash our hands. The handwashing station is also very easy to use and will encourage us to wash our hands more often.”