She missed playing football at school.

Her friends and teachers, of course, she missed them too. But football has a special place in her heart. The football field is where she can lead, take charge, excel.

She takes her schoolwork equally seriously. Ask how the school closures made her feel.

“When the school closed,
I felt sad.”

Sad, the same word she uses to describe how her community feels about the pandemic. How COVID makes her feel.

Sad. Three letters that capture so much.

But she is not one to let her head hang. She studied hard while at home, taking turns with her brothers reading and doing homework. Now the schools have reopened, she has stepped up.

Her head teacher explained about handwashing, distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding face touching. She immediately made sure that all children washed their hands when they came in, had breaks, visited the lavatory and took lunch.

She also sees to it that they have clean water and soap. Tells them how it protects against spreading the virus. Urges them to wash their hands. Reluctantly reports them to the teacher when they stubbornly refuse.

Ask her, “Do they listen?”

“It made me feel happy when they started following instructions because it can avoid the spread of this virus.”

Happy. It makes her feel happy.

Not because they listen. But because by listening, they protect themselves and each other.

“I’m Sophia.

I take action for safe water and hygiene in my school.
I shake things up.”


is in year seven of Inkiito primary school in Kenya. She lives with her mother, two brothers and the family’s sheep and goats in a village in Kajiado County. After school, Sophia walks in the field with the animals and looks after her brothers. She wears the number 9 shirt for her school’s football team.



The number of days children of Inkiito primary could not attend school and had to study at home — without laptops and online tuition.



When the schools reopened, Sophia explained to 97 pupils per day the benefits of washing their hands with soap to avoid the spread of the virus. She did this in addition to her normal schoolwork.


litres of water

More than 100 litres of water a day were used at the school gate. A huge quantity considering clean water is not always easy to come by in rural areas, especially during the dry season.


The story continues