Nine-Year-Old Kenyan Boy Builds Hand Sanitizing Station To Help Fight COVID-19

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Stepehn Wamukota designed a hand washing station to help stem the spread of COVID-19 in his village (Credit: YouTube screen capture)

Stephen Wamukota, a nine-year-old from Mukwa village in Western Kenya, is making headlines worldwide for his ingenious hand washing machine. The young boy came up with the idea after watching village residents, who do not have easy access to running water, struggle to find an effective way to wash their hands to avoid spreading and contracting COVID-19.

Using the few resources at his disposal — wood scraps, nails, and a bucket — Stephen designed and built a simple, but functional, cleansing station. The clever creation, which comprises two pedals — one to release soap and the other to release water — enables villagers to wash their hands contact-free, thereby reducing the likelihood of catching the dreaded infectious disease.

"I had bought some pieces of wood to make a window frame, but when I came back home after work one day, I found that Stephen had made the machine," his father, James, told the BBC. "The concept was his, and I helped tighten the machine. I'm very proud." James credits Stephen's building prowess to the village school's curriculum, which teaches children to assemble and construct items from a very young age.

Bungoma governor Wycliffe Wangamati (middle) promised Stephen (right) a full scholarship to help develop his creative talent (Credit: Bungoma Digital/Twitter)

The invention, which went viral after James posted a photo on Facebook, has made Stephen an instant celebrity in Kenya. In early June 2020, the country's leader, President Uhuru Kenyatta, bestowed the nine-year-old with the Uzalendo Award. The newly-created presidential honor is designed to acknowledge civilians who are making significant contributions towards the nation's fight against COVID-19.

Stephen has also been promised a full scholarship to a school that can nurture his creative talent, by Bungoma County Governor Wycliffe Wangamati. "We are waiting for school to open to contact him about his promise. He (the governor) told me that once school opens, he will give him a scholarship to a school that can match his talents," James told CNN.

Though thrilled at the unexpected fame and success, Stephen is not resting on his laurels. The young boy has already built another hand washing machine and plans on adding several more, so that the village, which has no reported cases of the infectious disease, can remain COVID-19 free!

Resources: goodnewsnetwork.org, BBC.com, Independent.co.UK,

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286 Comments
  • makenziefr
    makenziefrFriday, May 7, 2021 at 10:16 am
    I like that he's helping the community when he's only 9 years old.
    • pickles85256897
      pickles85256897Friday, April 16, 2021 at 11:13 am
      yes i am a kid to i am only 11 that is cool how he can do that i can build a toy car
      • newtmazerunner
        newtmazerunnerThursday, March 11, 2021 at 10:08 am
        So nice. Love that he is helping out, even though he's only nine years old!
        • alphapotato
          alphapotatoWednesday, March 10, 2021 at 10:01 am
          wow this is really great
          • dinobasketball7
            dinobasketball7Friday, February 19, 2021 at 11:12 am
            Yay! help stop the spread!
            • ravenclaw_house
              ravenclaw_houseThursday, February 18, 2021 at 11:08 am
              He is only nine!!!!!
              • ravenclaw_house
                ravenclaw_houseThursday, February 18, 2021 at 11:07 am
                OMG!!!!! How did he do that???!my only question in how old is he??
                • goldengurl1206
                  goldengurl1206Friday, February 12, 2021 at 10:10 am
                  Awesome!!! He did it the portable washing hand machine!!!! Keep going
                  • llcrazylazyll
                    llcrazylazyllMonday, February 8, 2021 at 10:34 am
                    i did a lemand stand to donate to hostpitalls so they have better supplies
                    • newtmazerunner
                      newtmazerunnerThursday, March 11, 2021 at 10:09 am
                      That is very thoughtful and kind of you! Keep up the good work!
                    • kittylover111
                      kittylover111Friday, February 5, 2021 at 6:38 am
                      Nice job! Go!