Girls Latrines completed

Girls Latrines completed

In recent weeks, my coverage of the multitude of successful Hampton-Piggs Peak Partnership fundraisers has overshadowed another very important event that has taken place. In a letter from Mr Sam Mncina, Principal at Piggs Peak Central High School, we were told that on July 1 the school opened their new latrines for use by the students. This is very exciting news! Many of you will remember John Lovett telling us of the situation that existed at the school about a year ago.

“Almost three hundred school girls have just two very unsanitary pit toilets for which they must line up to use at break time. Furthermore there are no facilities for washing their hands after using the toilet, so they go to lunch or home economics class with a very good chance of spreading disease. The other side of this is that it does little to enhance their self esteem in suffering the indignity of lining up in public view to use these inadequate facilities, especially in a country where females are considered second class citizens. So providing these toilet facilities will perhaps be just one small way to empower them.”

The gender inequality that John describes has been recognized as one of the key reasons for the proliferation of HIV in Swaziland and other African countries. According to the AIDS Epidemic Update 2004 (UNAIDS, WHO), “Increasingly, HIV/AIDS is striking women. Today, more than 20 years into the epidemic, women account for nearly half the 33 million people living with HIV worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, 76 per cent of the young people living with HIV are female.”

In typical fashion, the people of Hampton responded to this inherent injustice! We are, after all, the home of John Peters Humphrey whom Nelson Mandela described as “the father of the modern human rights system”. Through a fundraising dinner for women last November combined with individual donations from generous Hamptonians, the Hampton-Piggs Peak Partnership raised enough funds to rectify the problem. Under the supervision of John Lovett, without whom construction would have been almost impossible, we built a modern new facility for BOTH males and females. John tells us “everything has turned out well and the head teacher and school committee seem to be pleased with the result.” In fact, in Mr Mncina’s letter, he describes them as “special toilets”, adding “may the Lord God keep and make grow such a good relationship between our two organizations. Thank you a thousand times”.

We can all be proud of the good work we are doing in accomplishing our mission to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in Piggs Peak. There are a number of other projects on the table we would like to pursue. We hope, with your continued support, we will be able to do so.

Mark Bettle is a Hamptonian whose ambition is to help alleviate the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS in the small African nation of Swaziland. You can check out what’s being done there through the Hampton-Piggs Peak Partnership at www.hamptonpiggspeak.ca.

Girls Latrines completed