Stephen Wamukota, a nine-year-old Kenyan boy, who made a wooden hand-washing machine to aid in the fight against COVID-19, has received a presidential award. He 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. Although Wamukota and his family live in Mukwa village, in Bungoma country, western Kenya, which has not reported a single case of the virus, the youngster created a machine to help curb its spread.
Wamukota came up with the idea after learning on TV about ways to prevent catching the virus. He created a hand-washing machine that help users clean their hands without touching it, thereby minimizing any possible contact with the disease during the process.
It is equipped with 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 complete it,” he told local Daily Nation newspaper.
“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,” Mr Wamukota told the BBC.
Mr Wamukota repairs electronic goods for a living and according to him, his son has always been keen to learn 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 recipient of the Patriotic Award alongside 67 others.
He hopes to become an engineer when he grows up and the county governor has promised to give him a scholarship. So far, the country has reported more than 2,000 cases of Covid-19 and 69 deaths.