Toilet Block for Nursery School

Report by Cordula "Cora" Heggli

In January 2011 I returned to Ngaramtoni for two weeks to support Herry in his work for Home of Hope. Before I arrived he had informed me of several ideas which he wanted to implement to improve the situation at the nursery school. Thanks to generous donations I had a remarkable amount at my disposal which I wanted to utilise in the best way possible.

Herry’s main concern was a toilet block on site, as previously the children used only a hole in the ground, which posed an enormous risk for the smallest children. Also, a few empty cement bags cut open and attached to a sparse wooden frame did not provide much privacy.

Preparations for the plan were made quickly – Herry turned out to be an all-rounder in both technical and architectural matters – and so we set out together, full of thirst for action, to buy the building materials.

We found everything we needed in Ngaramtoni, but we had to make a lot of trips back and forth across the village. Herry compared prices and made sure I always waited “hidden” somewhere, so no one realised that there was an “mzungu” (white person) behind the order. Otherwise the prices would have been increased drastically and we wanted to prevent this.

Herry seems to know the whole village, and everyone knows him, which meant that we always ended up making many short side trips so Herry could ask about the welfare of his friends.

I realised that Herry looks out for many people, listens to their worries and helps wherever he can. He always shared their stories with me and so I learned a lot about the families in Ngaramtoni during this time.

The construction of the toilet block extended over a period of about two weeks, starting with the measurement of the terrain, about which Herry seemed to have a clear idea in his head. To mark out the area we used string and branches torn from the trees. We then filled this area with stones, laid pipes, put in the toilet-bowls and filled the spaces with cement. The foundation stone was now laid and we had to wait for everything to dry out before we could continue.

Next came the bricklayer who is a friend of Herry’s who, as I could tell based on the results, obviously just gave himself that job title. Some of the walls were slightly crooked and I was wondering how the doorframes were going to fit in! But following the German motto “what does not fit, is made to fit” they cut away some pieces of the wall with a machete, and then the wooden doorframe slotted in.

The walls were then followed by the roof. Herry proved to be a skilful carpenter and also joiner, when he adjusted the doors for the toilet block. We then sanded down the interior, and finally we painted the entire block.

A rain barrel collects water and door locks prevent unauthorized persons from entering.

Just before I returned home, we happily let the children have their first use of the toilet block. It hosts two separate squat toilets for the children and one for the landowner and the teachers. It means a lot to me and was such an enriching experience to tackle and implement the project with my own hands!