Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Portland:
A NEW sanitary convenience is now under construction at Windsor Primary School in the Rio Grande Valley of Portland, which will replace the outdated pit latrines.
Representatives of the donor agency from the United States of America (USA), the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA), and the Ministry of Health visited the school last week to get a first-hand look at the work in progress.
"We are impressed with the scope of work thus far," said Lyn Foster, who is representing the donors from the USA, and who was accompanied by her husband Bill Johnson.
She added: "It's all about making a difference in people's lives, and we had applied to Mr Foster Friess and Mrs Lyn Friess, two philanthropists, who were donating money to charity on their birthday in the US. They are a 70-year-old couple and they donated a US$1,000 for each year that God has spared their lives. We are happy to be part of this project."
lives at risk
The old pit latrines, which were being used by the student population of 92, were in a state of disrepair and posed serious danger to the lives of the boys and girls.
Principal of the school, Natalie Burke, explained that the lives of all the students were at risk because toilet seats were broken, the flooring was in a terrible state, and students were urinating on the floor.
"Today, we are happy for this sanitary facility. Actually, we had exhausted all our options and we were not getting anywhere. However, it was a call and a request from Lorenzo Humes, a public health inspector in Port Antonio, which gave us hope. They came and looked at the deplorable and unsanitary situation, and through dialogue with ADRA, the project is well under way."
Humes explained that based on the unsanitary situation uncovered by them, the parish's public health authority was in the process of taking serious action, when ADRA approached them about the likelihood of providing some assistance in the Rio Grande Valley.
"We looked at three schools in the area, but this school presented a real emergency, and immediately we stepped in to assist with the crisis situation. A sanitary block is now under construction, which came at an opportune time. It will include male and female bathrooms for students, and upgrading the teachers' facility."
The work is to include a modern-day flush system, three toilets for boys, three urinals, a shower, and wash basins; and four toilets for girls, wash basins, a shower, and a storage area for toiletries. In addition, the roof will be decked, and three 650-gallon water tanks will be placed atop the roof, which will be gravity-fed to the bathrooms.