Earlhamite's latrine project to promote peace at Kenyan school
April 04, 2017
Daniel Kibet’s ’19 path to Earlham started at a primary school in Kenya where classroom space was scarce and bathrooms were limited, unsanitary and broken.
“The population of the school doubled in two years after the introduction of the Free Primary Education Program in 2003,” Kibet says of Kapng’etik Primary School near the western Kenya town of Eldoret. “We suddenly found ourselves being squeezed into facilities and there were not enough toilet facilities to use. The facilities we did have were of bad quality and the students would have to sneak into neighborhood farms to relieve themselves. The farmers disliked the schools because of that and there has been tension ever since.”
Eight years later, Kibet has a chance to improve the situation for his former school. He is the latest Earlhamite to be awarded $10,000 in funding to lead a summer peace prize.
With funding from Earlham, Kibet will work with local builders to construct a simple latrine system and a hand-washing station while promoting health education, classes that are not actively offered at the 400-student school. The latrine system, with proper maintenance, can last for 20 years.
“The main purpose of this is to promote good hygiene,” he says. “One of the common sanitary diseases that exist here, not surprising, is cholera, which is caused by contamination by the poor toilet facilities that exist.”
Earlham’s success in preparing students to lead initiatives like this peace project is indicative of the College’s focus on combining academics with opportunities to create positive change in the world. Earlham has bolstered its commitment in this area with a major initiative known as EPIC that brings together classroom learning, immersive experiences outside the classroom and enhanced advising throughout the four years of college.
But Kibet, an Economics and Business and Nonprofit Management double major at Earlham, has his eyes set on other goals for his project. They include promoting health and wellness through sports and recreation.
“I played basketball for the first time at Earlham and I did that because I was so curious to play,” Kibet says. “Soccer is very popular in Kenya but they don’t have balls, they stuff bags together and push them into something round instead. So, I want to give the students an actual ball they can use and encourage them to build new skills and grow talent.”
Kibet says this project will likely not be his last.
“Kenya is experiencing drier conditions and with the lack of classrooms and bathroom facilities, the sunny conditions really affect the students, some as young as 5 years old,” he says. “I hope this will be one of the many projects that I will be doing not just at my former school, but other neighboring schools. They all face the same issues.”
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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."
Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and firstname.lastname@example.org.