Skip to main content

Malawi: Toilet troubles, a schoolgirl's story

When you are an amputee, the simple act of going to the toilet can be fraught with difficulty. For nine-year-old Hadija, from Mzuzu in the north of Malawi, using the pit latrine at her school was a daily struggle. Today, following the installation of an accessible toilet at her school as part of an EU-funded peri-urban water, sanitation and hygiene project, Hadija once again wakes up excited to go to school.

Hadija stands with her walking stick

Imagine being a nine-year-old schoolgirl, with only one leg to support yourself after having the other amputated following a road traffic accident. Now imagine that you attend a public school with only a few dirty pit latrines. You have no option but to use them.

Of course, with only one leg and a long walking stick to support yourself, using a pit latrine is easier said than done. More often than not, you end up with mess on yourself from the dirty toilet. Just imagine. Would you be itching to go to school every day, knowing you faced such an unpleasant experience every time you needed to use the toilet?

Unfortunately, this has been the reality Hadija has woken up to for the past three years of her life, after she was maimed in a traffic accident in 2012.

Everyday challenges

Losing a leg changed everything for Hadija, both at home and at school. And, she says, the previously simple act of using the pit latrine was one of the biggest challenges she faced.

“Once I went to the toilet on my own. As I was trying hard to adjust and use the toilet I tumbled and the next thing I realised was that my stick was nowhere to be seen. It had fallen into the latrine,” Hadija lamented.

As a result, Hadija missed classes for a month as her parents struggled to get her another crutch.

“It was not easy for Hadija,” says her teacher Veronica. “Sometimes her friends would escort her to the toilet and hold her, because there are times when the toilets get really dirty.”

Doing it alone

But relying on others to help was not a suitable solution, and after struggling for over a year, Hadija’s plight came to an end when Plan International Malawi, with funding from the European Commission and Plan Netherlands, built an ecological sanitation latrine at her school, including an accessible latrine for disabled students like Hadija.

“Now I don’t need anyone to help me out at the toilet. I go there on my own and no longer worry about the dirty toilets or losing my stick. Now I wake up looking forward to going to school, unlike in the past,” Hadija says happily.

Achieving ambitions

According to her teacher, Hadija is a bright student who has great potential. And now that she is able to attend school comfortably, Hadija is intent or realising her ambitions.

“I would like to be a doctor and help people suffering from various diseases,” says Hadija. “I would like to be able to support my mother and grandmother, since my father, who used to support us, died in a road accident last year,” she adds. 

 

For more information about Plan International's work in Malawi go to plan-international.org/malawi.

For more information about Plan Netherland's work go to plannederland.nl

For more information about the work of the European Commission's International Cooperation and Development Directorate General, please click here.

EC-funded project combating violence against children in Haiti
EC-funded project combating female infanticide in India
EC-funded project combating violence against children in Kenya
Students celebrate their graduation
Fadi was saved from a forced marriage
Youth economic empowerment Timor Leste
Early Childhood Care and Development in Cambodia
Plan International EC-funded projects
Egypt
EuropeAid: Building an Inclusive Living Environment for Children and Young People with Disabilities
El Salvador
EuropeAid: Youth Economic Empowerment
Haiti
EuropeAid: Fighting violence against children together
India
EuropeAid: Promoting gender wage parity and non-discrimination in the work environment
India
EuropeAid: Combating the worst forms of discrimination against girls: female infanticide
Indonesia
EuropeAid: Young Women's Economic Empowerment
Kenya
EuropeAid: Improving Access to Water and Sanitation in Matungulu and Masinga Districts
Kenya
EuropeAid: Child Protection against Violence in Kenya
Mozambique
EuropeAid: Poverty Reduction through Youth Empowerment, Technical Training and Employability
Niger
EuropeAid: Eradicating early and forced marriage in Dosso Region
Timor Leste
EuropeAid: Empowerment and inclusion of marginalised youth in the economic and political development of Timor-Leste
South Sudan
EuropeAid: Empowering NSAs to provide youth with alternative livelihood opportunities for poverty reduction and peace building
Zambia
EuropeAid: Making law work for girls and boys
Sri Lanka
EuropeAid: Empowering women through e-governance
Tanzania
EuropeAid: Preventing and Responding to Violence against Children in Tanzania: Linking community systems to a national model for Child Protection
Philippines
EuropeAid: Collective Action to Promote Non-violent and Protective Society for Children
Nicaragua
ECHO: Urban Risk Reduction in the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua
Myanmar
ECHO: Safer Coastal and Urban Communities through Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction in Myanmar
Myanmar
ECHO: EU Children of Peace
Central America
ECHO: Institutionalisation of drought risk management tools and processes in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
South America
ECHO: More education, less risk: Strengthening disaster risk reduction and resilience through education in Paraguay, Ecuador and Colombia
Nepal
ECHO: Shelter and Non-Food-Items relief to earthquake affected populations of the West and Central Development regions of Nepal
Nepal
ECHO: Promoting and strengthening school safety in Nepal through operationalizing the Comprehensive School Safety Framework (CSSF)
Cameroon
ECHO: Nigerian Refugees WaSH Assistance: meeting life saving needs and preventing disease in Minawao Camp
Uganda
ECHO: Promoting Education, Protection and Peace for South Sudan refugee boys and girls in Adjumani District
El Salvador
ECHO: A participatory and inclusive approach to resilient communities in La Libertad department
Bangladesh
ECHO: Enhancing inclusive disaster resilience in Bangladesh
Bangladesh
EuropeAid: Creating an enabling environment for young people to claim and access their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights
Ethiopia
EuropeAid: Combatting FGM by campaigning and supporting Community-Based Organisations
Ethiopia
ECHO: Protection of boys and girls displaced by the South Sudanese conflict and those living in host communities
Benin
EuropeAid: Action for the improvement of local governance and citizens' participation in local development
Burkina Faso
EuropeAid: Improved acess to water and sanitation services for women and children
Cambodia
EuropeAid: Promoting Child-Friendly Communities through the Development of a National Child Protection System
Egypt
EuropeAid: Youth engagement and voice
Ghana
EuropeAid: Young voices: Enhancing transformative change, good governance and accountability in maternal health delivery
Guinea Bissau
EuropeAid: Community-Based Action Tackling female genital cutting
Honduras
EuropeAid: Building citizenship for the rights of children and youth
Kenya
EuropeAid: Youth Action for Open Governance and Accountability at County Level through ICTs and Media
Laos
EuropeAid: Building Civil Society from the village up: participation, rights and gender equity for ethnic group adolescents
Liberia
EuropeAid: Light up Our Futures
Malawi
EuropeAid: Peri-Urban Sanitation and Hygiene Project in Mzuzu City
Mali
EuropeAid: Improved living conditions of children and their families thanks to the access to modern and affordable energy services in 30 poor communities
Pakistan
EuropeAid: Provision of access to market-driven training and employment opportunities
Rwanda
EuropeAid: Empowering Youth through an Inclusive Cooperative Movement in Rwanda
Sierra Leone
EuropeAid: Food Poverty Reduction Initiative
Sierra Leone
EuropeAid: Child Survival and Development
Sudan
EuropeAid: Empowering At-Risk Groups to Secure Climate Resilient Livelihoods
Tanzania
EuropeAid: Preventing child marriage and FGM in high risk communities in Tanzania to support girls to realise their rights
Timor Leste
EuropeAid: Creating a Healthy Environment for Children in Rural Communities
Togo
EuropeAid: Promotion of young people's right to sexual and reproductive health
Togo
EuropeAid: Promotion of children's right to water and environmental health
Uganda
EuropeAid: Empowering youth for sustainable livelihoods
Uganda
EuropeAid: Combatting silent violence against younger children in post-conflict districts of Northern Uganda
Ecuador
ECHO: Support to Public Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Coordination Mechanisms in Ecuador
Philippines
ECHO: Scaling Up Resilience in Governance (SURGE)
Brazil
EuropeAid: Bridges to the Future: Employment Solutions for vulnerable youth
Cambodia
EuropeAid: Ensuring a brighter future for the most vulnerable children through the promotion of integrated early childhood care and development
Central America
EuropeAid: Young people and civil society united for the defence of their rights
El Salvador
EuropeAid: Youth, civil society and the community working together for the full implementation of sexual and reproductive rights
Tanzania
ECHO: Child protection and hygiene promotion strenghtening for Burundian refugees in Tanzania
Central America
ECHO: Protecting vulnerable groups in disaster preparedness and response through the incorporation of principles of humanitarian protection in Central America
Philippines
ECHO: Emergency Response to populations affected by Typhoon Haiyan
Philippines
ECHO: Restoring Integrity and Resilience of the Internally Displaced Populations in the Philippines
Vietnam
ECHO: Early recovery assistance to Typhoon and flood affected children and their families in Central Vietnam
Vietnam
ECHO: Joint Partnership to support the advancement of the National Community-based Disaster Risk Management programme and the action plan on Disaster Risk Reduction/Climate Change
Uganda
ECHO: Promoting Education, Protection and Peace for South Sudan (PEPPS) refugee boys and girls in Adjumani District, Uganda
Kenya
EuropeAid: VaC- Integrated approaches to child protection against violence in Kenya
Ghana
EuropeAid: Young Voices: enhancing transformative change, good governance and accountability in maternal health delivery
Paraguay
ECHO: Strengthening institutional and community preparedness and coordination capacities for disaster risk reduction
Dominican Republic
ECHO: Mainstreaming resilience and ensuring a timely response to food and nutrition insecurity related to slow onset crisis via the improvement of absorptive, adaptive and transformative capacities, in the Dominican Republic
Paraguay
ECHO: Establishment and maintenance of basic living and sanitary conditions for populations and the most vulnerable groups affected by floods in Nanawa and José Falcon
Tanzania
ECHO: Minimize and mitigate the negative impact of displacement and ensure the protection of vulnerable Burundian refugees in Tanzania
Dominican Republic
ECHO: Strengthening urban resilience through humanitarian protection, shelter and communication in Santo Domingo