Friday, September 16, 2011

When I grow up, I want to be an engineer!

Photos and Text by Beth Robertson (Research Fellow)

2011 Grassroots Training Participants and Katuuso Primary School Students during the VIP Latrine Construction

At Katuuso Primary School in Uganda—the site where the 2011 GWWI East Africa Grassroots Training built and handed over two water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) technologies—the students, especially the girls, were shocked to see women constructing rainwater harvesting (RWH) tanks and ventilated improved pits (VIP) latrines to serve the campus’ 600 students. The girls at the school never thought that women could build these technologies. Why would they, when they had been socialized to believe that this was a man’s job?

Many hands make light work: Brick assembly line during the VIP construction
During the two weeks spent in Katuuso Primary School, training participants learned practical skills to construct water technologies, and in the process began to transform into role models for the female students. Working alongside our young sisters and under the guidance of two African women facilitating the technology trainings, these students learned that women could be community change-makers and still be mothers and caretakers. As we stood in lines passing bricks to each other for construction, we began to hear the students say, I want to be an engineer when I grow up! 
Katuuso Primary School students present during the technology handover ceremony
Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest of places at the most unexpected times. The broader grassroots training crew may not have been masons, carpenters, technicians or trained engineers; but they were certainly community leaders making a difference at the school, and in the process shifting the view of women’s capabilities among the student body. When four young women representing the Katuuso student body spoke at the handing-over ceremony and shared their perceptions of the women they had seen in action, they uttered—Women can do anything. We are women, we can too!

Katuuso Priamary School students celebrate during the GWWI Technology Handover Ceremony!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful!Gives a lot of hope and optimism, to see this work going on!