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Girls set a new course with clean water in Malawi

For girls like 13-year-old Ngwaku in Malawi, life without clean water and proper sanitation was normal. The arduous journey to fetch water kept girls from school. Poor community sanitation made children ill. This unfortunate reality stopped Ngwaku and thousands of girls from accessing their right to learn and thrive to their utmost potential.

That is, until Because I am a Girl supporters like you helped Defy Normal and install 7 boreholes and 8 gender-separate latrines blocks with hand-washing stations – piping clean water and improved hygiene and sanitation to 3,720 students!

 A group of students, showing off their clean hands, happily stand around a sign pointing to the new gender-separate latrines.


Ngwaku smiles while using one of the new boreholes in her community.

“Before the boreholes, we used to walk very long distances to get water and we were usually late to school,” Ngwaku describes. “To shower, I had to walk to the lake. We used to have only one latrine for both boys and girls; there was no privacy at all. During menstruation some girls simply never came to school for fear of being embarrassed.”

A lack of water – along with deeply rooted menstrual and gender-related stigmas – can make receiving a quality education an upstream battle for adolescent girls.

“Due to the lack of proper toilets and clean water, most pupils were forced to drop out. For those that remained, their school attendance was very intermittent,” explains Mr. Chikumula, teacher at Ngwaku’s school.

See your transformative impact:

Before: a straw latrine with a thatched roof that offers no privacy. After: a modern, gender-separate latrine with private cubicles and space to accommodate menstrual hygiene management needs and proper sanitation.
Thanks to your funding, flimsy, grass-walled latrines with little privacy have been replaced with child-friendly, gender-separate latrine blocks, each with three or four private cubicles and improved sanitation.
Before: a dilapidated straw shack which used to be a school latrine. After: Ngwaku and a friend stand proudly in front of their new female-only latrine.
Unlike the previous flimsy and dirty latrines, the new, solid-brick facilities are gender-separate and specially-designed to meet girls’ menstrual hygiene management needs.

Now Ngwaku and her friends can comfortably, confidently and healthily cope with their periods at school!

“As a school, we mobilized the teachers and parents to dig the latrines and improve sanitation around the school,” says school secretary, Yassin. “We knew our problems and we wanted to address them.”

Before: community members work together to dig a new borehole. After: girls wash their hands at a new borehole. A nearby sign reads: 'This borehole was donated to Chamtondo school by Plan International Canada'
With your backing, the community came together to pitch in, Defy Normal and make clean water ripple out to more students like Ngwaku!

Thank you for helping ensure lack of clean water and sanitation won’t hold girls back in Malawi. Today, with your help, more girls like Ngwaku have a clear path to grow healthy and obtain the education they rightly deserve.

Since your improvements, over 260 girls have enrolled at Ngwaku’s school!

In fact, the whole community has a refreshed knowledge of good hygiene and sanitation practices, thanks to the formation of sponsor-funded school hygiene clubs, sanitation committees and community-wide trainings and awareness campaigns.

 A girl washes her hands at one of the school hand-washing stations.

“We are drinking clean, safe water and fewer students are suffering from diarrhea and other illnesses,” beams Ngwaku, appreciative of the transformation you’ve made possible. Now she can lap up all the benefits of accessible water and improved hygiene: better health, equal opportunity at education and a chance to tap into her full potential!

Ngwaku and her friend smile while using one of the new boreholes in their community.

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