Stephen Wamukota, from Bungoma County in western Kenya, is the youngest of 688 people to receive the award from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Wamukota’s father, James, told CNN that his son came up with the idea to build the machine after learning how to stay safe from Kovid-19 on a local TV channel.
“The president first announced Kovid-19 infection in our country, saying everyone should wash their hands regularly to prevent the virus. My son told me at the time that he had come up with a framework to make hand washing easier,” he said.
Wamukota collected wood, nails and a small water tank to make a hand washing machine.
James, an electronics repairman for a living, said he came home one day to find that his son had made the machine with some leftover wood that he had planned to use to make a window.
“I saw that what he built wasn’t stable so I helped him adjust something. I didn’t want it to fall apart,” he said.
The hand washing machine is held together by wood and has two foot paddles, one for releasing soap and the other for releasing water.
This allows users to hit the paddles without touching the surfaces with their hands, reducing the chances of the coronavirus contracting.
James said his son realized the gratitude for the Kenyan school curriculum, which teaches young children how to assemble and how to make things.
A scholarship promise
Wamukota County, where the governor of Wamukota Counter, Wycliffe Wangamati, promised to provide scholarships to complete his primary and secondary education.
Scholarship details are still being deleted because Kenyan schools are closed in the epidemic, James said.
James said, “We look forward to contacting him about his promise to open the school. He (the governor) told me that after the school opens he will give him a scholarship that matches his talent.”
Wamukota wants to be an engineer, and James says he hopes the president’s recognition has opened the door for his son to be a great man in the country.
“He always says he wants to build factories and be an engineer,” he said. “I hope he does, he’ll become a great person.”