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Betty Tanui

Betty Tanui (35) works as a health teacher at Kibirirgut primary school in Kericho County, Western Kenya. She married at the age of 15, but no longer lives with her husband. Her two sons aged 15 and 19 left home last year to attend secondary school and to study at university. But Betty does not live alone: She takes care of the eight-year-old daughter of her friend, who passed away six years ago. The health teacher got to know Caritas Switzerland in 2012, when she attended a Children’s Hygiene and Sanitation Training. In March she participated in a second training conducted by Caritas to refresh her knowledge and to learn about menstrual hygiene management for girls.  


What is your daily routine?
I get up at 5 in the morning to prepare breakfast for my little girl. I wake her up, wash her face and hands and prepare her for school. After she leaves, I first take care of the chicken I raise, then I clean the house and I get dressed. At around 7 I walk the two kilometers to my school and report to the staffroom upon arrival. As I am a health teacher, I am responsible for the cleanliness of the schoolyard. I have to make sure that there is enough water in the containers so that the children can wash their hands after having used the latrines, before and after eating. Most of the children arrive at 7.45. After having controlled the cleanliness of their hands, faces and school uniforms, we pray together. I am in charge of 110 children between the age of six and eight. I give seven lessons daily of about 30 minutes each. School finishes around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I then have to clean the classroom as well as the latrines. It is necessary to do this every day. The children are too small to take care of the latrines on their own. When I reach home at 4.30, I start preparing dinner, wash the clothes, and take care of the chicken and my garden. We have dinner early and I go to bed not later than 9 in the evening.

What do you like about your village?
Only 50 families live in my village, it is very small. I was born in that village and my sister lives nearby. I like my little garden. I can plant fruits and vegetables so that I do not have to buy all the products I need on the market. Most of the families in my village have a garden.

What are you struggling with?
It is difficult for me to pay for the education of my sons. The younger one goes to secondary school, my elder son studies informatics. It is a big financial burden as I am responsible for both of them. Another difficulty that I am facing is long distance for fetching water. I have to walk around two kilometers to fetch water. Since I work as a teacher the whole day, I have to fetch enough water during the weekend, so that it is sufficient for the whole week. But when I feel stressed and sad, I read the Bible or I listen to Christian songs.

What does happiness mean for you?
To enjoy what I am doing: raising my family and working as a teacher.

What do you wish for?
I want to bring up a happy family and support the people in my community as much as possible.

What are you proud of?
I am proud of the work I am doing in my school. My job as a health teacher means a lot to me and the cleanliness has improved since I attended the Children’s Hygiene and Sanitation Training in 2012. I am very happy that I could participate in a training on menstrual hygiene management this year. This is important for my daily work. Many girls come to me and ask for help when they have their first period. They don’t know what to do about it. It is not common in my community that mothers talk to their girls about these things. Now I know how to support them and I even can explain it to my little girl. 


The interview was conducted by Janne Christ in March 2014.


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