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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274 Comments
  • savagegirl22
    savagegirl22Friday, December 25, 2020 at 3:10 am
    OMG!!!!!!!!!! Great job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • luvharrypotter
      luvharrypotterWednesday, December 23, 2020 at 7:54 pm
      Great Job Kid! Even though is is YOUNGER then me, he INSPIRED me!!
      • jade1010
        jade1010Monday, December 21, 2020 at 9:07 am
        Awesome job Stephen!
        • enroll
          enrollThursday, December 10, 2020 at 11:58 am
          at such a young age
          • enroll
            enrollThursday, December 10, 2020 at 11:58 am
            SO NICE!!!!!! im glad there are good kids helping the commuinity
            • kate_aubren
              kate_aubrenThursday, December 10, 2020 at 11:55 am
              #KidsCanChangeTheWorld
              • kate_aubren
                kate_aubrenThursday, December 10, 2020 at 9:39 am
                SO nice!! :)
                • maria_goodvibes
                  maria_goodvibesWednesday, December 9, 2020 at 3:19 pm
                  OMG so smart!
                  • ashell9275
                    ashell9275Monday, December 7, 2020 at 6:16 am
                    nice son
                    • lijahdandada
                      lijahdandadaMonday, January 11, 2021 at 9:25 am
                      the most people who build the best thing is from africa
                    • shadow2008
                      shadow2008Friday, December 4, 2020 at 9:42 am
                      No matter how much we fail we can still change the world one step at a time!