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  • Melinda Murphy

9-year-old Kenyan honored for invention

This 9-year-old Kenyan boy was presented with a special presidential award after he built his own public hand-washing sink to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Stephen Wamukota managed to construct his little sanitary station using just a bucket, a few pieces of wood, and some basic tools. Since the sink’s mechanism is triggered by foot pedals at the base of the station, people can wash their hands without being forced to touch its surface and risk contracting the virus.

Stephen’s father James praised the project in an interview with BBC, saying: “I had bought some pieces of wood to make a window frame, but I when I came back home after work one day, I found that Stephen had made the machine. The concept was his, and I helped tighten the machine. I’m very proud.”

The youngster was inspired to build the hand-washing station after watching a TV news report on ways to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19. After photos of his sanitation prototype were shared widely on Facebook, the boy constructed a second one—and he now plans to build even more.

As a means of lauding the boy for his initiation, the Kenyan president awarded him and 68 other Kenyan citizens with the prestigious Presidential Order of Service Uzalendo (Patriotic) Award last month.

Since Stephen also told reporters that he hopes to become an engineer some day in the future, the governor of his Kenyan county promised to award the boy a scholarship once he is old enough to attend college.

Mr. Wamukota now says he is already looking forward to a bright future for his son. “He is always saying he wants to build factories and become an engineer,” he told CNN. “I hope he does, that he becomes a great person.”

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