Where children can now drink water without fear of being bitten by snakes
The Mother AK Memorial Nursery and Primary school is located next to the Otumpili Day and Boarding School. They are the only schools within a 20 km radius. Mother AK Memorial is both a kindergarten and a primary school more through necessity than actual choice. There was simply no option for the community to establish two schools, so they built one that caters to students of all ages.
The water and snake problem
Before the well, the school and local community were dependent on a water hole that was over 1 km away. It was a long distance to walk, but it was their only option. Sarah Asunta, the school bursar mentioned that they would try to only send the older girls to go and fetch water, but sometimes the younger children would have to go. “During some unfortunate times, the pupils come back running and panting and without their water jerricans after finding a snake at the well,” confides Asunta.
A young female student named Lamunu Daisy, confirmed this saying “No. It was not just a snake. It was a python.” She said they were three girls and they all sprinted back to the school in fear.
The water situation before the well
The old water source was more than a kilometer from the school. It was in an isolated area, in what is known as ‘the bush’ and the path leading to it was unkempt and overgrown. This meant that the walk to and from the water hole took even longer than it normally would.
The water hole was not protected with any kind of fence, which meant it was also used by livestock. During rainy seasons the paths would flood and it became impossible to access the water hole. When this happened the pupils would collect water from any puddles they found that were deep enough, but this water was not clean or safe to drink.
The negative impact: trauma.
Asunta says the encounters with snakes tend to have a traumatizing effect on the pupils and this is known to affect their performance in class.
Another issue the school used to face was that parents were reluctant to send their children to a school where there was no water. They did not like the idea of a school where their children were unable to wash their plates after school meals, with no water for drinking, no water for washing the toilets and no water to help was their hands – a situation made worse by the current pandemic.
The new well
While schools are still closed in Uganda, we are now hearing that they are about to re-open after a long 83-week closure. The new well drilled by Drop in the Bucket at the school is creating a buzz among the parents who are excitedly asking when the schools will reopen. Several parents whose children were not in school before are now expressing a greater interest in enrolling their children because of the new well. Asunta has a different reason to be happy. She is happy that the pupils will no longer have to deal with snakes when they are thirsty.