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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287 Comments
  • kittylover111
    kittylover111Friday, February 5, 2021 at 6:38 am
    Nice job! Go!
    • im_carly_shay
      im_carly_shayWednesday, February 3, 2021 at 6:10 am
      OMG he did awsome!!!!!!! SAFE COVID 19!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      • horse123456
        horse123456Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 5:09 pm
        I want to do that man he inspired me
        • leiker1414
          leiker1414Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 7:44 am
          Great job kid!!!!! I wish I could be there to try it out!!!!!!!!
          • 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
                    • prettygurll
                      prettygurllThursday, December 10, 2020 at 11:55 am
                      #KidsCanChangeTheWorld