Sanergy, East Africa
When I was young, I lived in the Mukuru slums for three years. We had a big problem with sanitation. We didn’t have a toilet, only access to a pit latrine. Openly defecating was routine. Even for my sisters.
Ever since then, I have had a passion for sanitation. After school, I did research for Eawag, a Swiss organization that works to ensure the sustainable use of water. When I came back to Mukuru for a project, I saw things had gotten worse. There was open defecation all over.
I had worked with Sanergy on projects so, when my research ended two years ago, I applied for a job. Today, I work as a Sanergy field officer and help train the community on hygiene and clean sanitation. We have challenges with people openly defecating and not washing their hands and flushing the toilets, so I train them on how to change their environment and how to operate the Fresh Life Toilets.
Many of the people in these communities have no idea about the need to wash your hands. Most people feel like it’s not their responsibility. They say ‘I don’t have time for that.’ It doesn’t make any sense. That’s why we need to train them not only about the usefulness of using a Fresh Life Toilet but also the usefulness of having a clean environment. We work with the Fresh Life operators as well as the customers. We train the operators on customer service and encourage them to find ways to improve their service.
As someone who used to live in these slums, I can say Sanergy has had a great impact on the communities because there’s a very big change. Now you can walk anywhere without the fear of someone throwing a flying toilet on you. The environment is clean. You can access a toilet nearly every 100 meters. The Fresh Life toilet itself is very clean. People also have privacy and they are very happy about that.
Having gone through what we did living here, I felt there was an opportunity to change our community. I had this passion.
I wanted to be part of an organization that can change the lives of people living in this community. It’s my prayer to work for Sanergy where I can improve the lives of people and help them access good sanitation. Because sanitation issues are not only within Nairobi or in the slums, we also have them in rural areas. I have a dream to expand this access to rural areas. This work takes time and, at the same time, commitment but, if I can do that, I’ll feel very grateful.
Nashon, 26, is a former resident of Nairobi’s Mukuru development and a Field Officer for Acumen investee, Sanergy.