COVID-19: 9-year-old Kenyan boy who made hand-washing machine receives presidential award

A 9-year-old Kenyan boy, who built a wooden hand-washing machine to help in the fight against COVID-19, has received a presidential award.

Stephen Wamukota

Stephen Wamukota was named by President Uhuru Kenyatta as a recipient of the Uzalendo Award.

“I now have two machines and I want to make more,” Wamukota said.

The 9-year-old and his family live in Mukwa village, in Bungoma country, western Kenya, which has not recorded a single case of the virus.

He said even though his community has not recorded any case he wanted to create a machine to help curb its spread.

He told the local Daily Nation newspaper that he had the idea to create the machine after learning on TV about ways to prevent catching the virus.

He then created a hand-washing machine that helps users clean their hands without touching it, thereby minimizing any possible contact with the disease during the process.

The machine has a pedal-like lever which users step on to release water for hand wash.

“I had the idea of developing this machine and after I started, I ran out of materials and approached my father who assisted me to complete it.”

His father told the BBC that “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.”

Mr Wamukota repairs electronic goods for a living. He said his son has always been interested in learning his trade. “The concept was his and I helped tighten the machine. I’m very proud,” he said.

He posted his son’s invention on Facebook and then it went viral. Wamukota was the recipient of the Patriotic Award alongside 67 others.

The younger award winner wants to become an engineer when he grows up and the county governor has promised to give him a scholarship.

So far, Kenya has recorded over 2,000 cases of Covid-19 and 69 deaths.

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