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9-Year-Old Boy from Kenya Wins Award for Building Wooden Handwashing Machine

This boy just received a presidential award for building a handwashing machine to stop COVID-19.

  • Stephen Wamukota, 9, just joined 67 others as the youngest presidential awardee in Kenya.
  • The young boy built a wooden handwashing machine to help fight the spread of the coronavirus disease.
  • He was also promised a scholarship by the governor.

In western Kenya, 9-year-old Stephen Wamukota, a Class 3 pupil from Mukwa Primary School in Bungoma County, just became the youngest of 68 people to receive an award from President Uhuru Kenyatta. The list also includes Patrick Amoth, acting director general for Kenya’s Ministry of Health, and Wachira Waruru, managing director of Royal Media Service.

According to reports, Stephen created the semi-automatic wooden handwashing machine to help address the growing number of casualties from the coronavirus disease.

Stephen’s father Jason Wamukota shared that his son told him about the machine design he had in mind. The boy said that he has an idea that will make handwashing easier.


This came after he learned that it could help stop the virus from spreading and right about the time when the president announced the first COVID-19 case in the country. 

The award-winning handwashing machine

Stephen’s handwashing machine was born from his father’s spare wood, some nails, and a small water tank. It came with two wooden pedals: one for releasing soap and another one for the water. These pedals remove the need to touch any surface, thus making handwashing safer because of the reduced possibility of contracting the virus. 

Jason recalled how he had arrived home one day to find Stephen has already created the structure, which was still unstable at the time and so he helped make some adjustments to it. “I didn’t want it to fall apart,” he shared. 

The machine costed Ksh.3,000 to construct and according to the proud father, Stephen was able to do it because Kenya’s school curriculum had lessons on assembling and building things.

The reward

Wycliffe Wangamati, the governor of Bungoma County, promised that Stephen would have a scholarship to help him complete his primary and secondary education. His promise included finding the right school that “matched his talents.” The scholarship is yet to be received, said Jason, but they intend to follow it up with the governor when the school reopens.

According to Jason, Stephen has always wanted to be an engineer, and he hoped that this recognition from the country’s top leaders would open more opportunities for him.


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