The St John Nursery and Primary school in Nkwen, NW Region was started by missionaries in 1988. It was always a very popular and busy school until the escalation of the crisis caused all schools in the region to close in 2016. However, it ventured to re-open in September 2019 and, since it was one of the only schools functioning in the area, it immediately enrolled 560 pupils from 10 different communities. These included many IDP children whose families had moved into this semi-urban area from the rural villages that had been destroyed during the fighting. There are also 13 members of staff at the school and, whilst the list of their needs was considerably long, at the top of that list was a new latrine. There was only one, dilapidated and broken long-drop toilet for almost 600 people when the school re-opened and it was virtually full. It wasn’t long before one of the nursery children fell down the ‘scouting hole’ into the toilet and had to be pulled out by the teachers. The situation was desperate. Local people offered their own toilets for the children to use, but this would mean children having to leave the school compound and the risk of kidnap in this area remains very high. By March, COVID-19 had also arrived in Cameroon and this made the need for improved sanitation even greater.
We were anxious to help this school and, fortunately, we had sufficient funds in our reserves that we were able to send the money for the construction of a new latrine with six toilets and hand washing facilities. This project was completed in record time and handed over to the school in November 2020.