Where Have You Been?!?

Whenever I return to Sierra Leone, I’m welcomed by friends with a hearty, “Long time!” to convey I was missed and they were happy to see me. I can imagine some of you responding likewise, “Long time!” and I apologize for the gap in our communication. But we’ve been busy and we’re back with updates!

We last left you summarizing our partnership on a Rotary International Global Grant supporting three rural schools around the city of Bo. While the Rotary clubs support the schools with new supplies and furniture, and helping 3 teachers at each school to attend college, Healthy Schools International installs latrines and solar power.

By the end of 2018, we’d installed solar and a 7-stall waterless composting latrine building at Largo Primary School. I returned in February of this year to commission the 5-stall latrine at the school in Barlie and to troubleshoot the solar installation at Largo (operator error and provided more training).

HSI Office at Mile 91

We also had the great pleasure of opening a new office in Yonibana, better known as “Mile 91” (it is 91 miles outside Freetown). We are moving our current office located in the IMATT section of Freetown to the more centrally located Mile 91. In the future, we hope to have expanded storage facilities and more staff there so HSI can expand its reach and impact.

World Toilet Day was November 19th! As you can imagine, this day is special for HSI; it’s about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which promises sanitation for all by 2030. We’re proud of how our supporters have helped us make schools a healthier place for students (and safer for girls to attend) by providing private space within eco-friendly sanitation infrastructure.

We hope to complete our third and final sanitation project at Nguabu school, the most remote of the Global Grant schools (so remote, a bridge had to be built over the local stream in order for trucks to deliver the heavier materials.

A few things to look forward to in our the next couple of months; we’ll be launching a new series called, Get to know a volunteer, where we’ll be spotlighting the hard work of our great volunteers from Kenya to Virginia, updates on the Nguabu latrine construction in Sierra Leone, and what happens next at Mile 91!

Stay tuned for more great news about the impact you’re making as you support our mission!

Healthy Schools International® Celebrates the International Day of Education by Promoting Clean and Safe School Environments

Healthy Schools International Executive Director, Derek Reinhard, speaks with teachers at a rural school outside Bo, Sierra Leone

IN 2018, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as  the International Day of Education, to celebrate the role of education for peace and development. The very first celebration of this Day of Education will be marked at the United Nations in New York. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) advocates that without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.

This day is the occasion to reaffirm fundamental principles. Firstly, education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. Secondly, education is the most powerful force in our hands to ensure significant improvements in health, to stimulate economic growth, to unlock the potential and innovation we need to build more resilient and sustainable societies…” Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General

Education is a human right that should be available to all. However, in countries all over the world, children attend schools in unsafe environments which lack access to safe drinking water and handwashing facilities and no proper toilets and sanitation. Even where school enrolments have improved, learning outcomes remain poor because absenteeism due to water-borne illness and smoke-related respiratory problems.

If education is the key to helping children escape poverty, access to water and sanitation is key to helping children safely maximize their education. To neglect this is to be careless with the well-being and health of children.
Kelly Ann Naylor, Global Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, UNICEF. 

With a vision of bringing clean infrastructure to school communities in Africa, Healthy Schools International (HSI)  works to promote the link between healthy environments and student performance at underserved schools in rural district of Sierra Leone and Kenya. Most recently HSI partnered in a Global Grant with the Rotary International of West Springfield, Virginia USA and Sierra Leone Rotary clubs.

Along with eco-friendly infrastructure such as clean water, safe sanitation and solar electricity projects, HSI works with school and community leaders to develop revenue-generating business models based on the projects so there are funds always available for the upkeep of the systems.  In addition to providing essential furniture and classroom supplies, HSI helps students thrive by providing eco-friendly water, sanitation and energy solutions.  Projects in Sierra Leone include the installation of a new latrine block utilizing waterless, composting technology, and solar electricity for four classroom buildings. A similar strategy is being developed for implementation in the rural district of Maasai land in the Southern Rift Valley of Kenya.

Healthy Schools is passionate about this mission and dedicated to building on its current success. Achieving basic level of health and sanitation in schools has required significant efforts to raise awareness among students, parents, teachers, and their communities. HSI is working to promote the understanding, recognition and adoption of these environmental concerns as essential and integral components of an effective learning environment. As the world marks the very first International Education Day and works to promote education, HSI remains committed to advocating for and promoting healthy learning environments that help to improve learning outcomes for children and help them safely maximize their education.