Stephen Wamukuta, from Bungoma County in western Kenya, was the youngest 68 person to receive the award from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Wamokota’s father told CNN that his son had come up with the idea to build the machine after learning how to stay safe from Covid-19 on a local TV channel.
“The first time the president announced a Covid-19 infection in our country, it was said that everyone should wash their hands regularly to prevent the virus. My son told me at the time that he had come up with a structure to help wash hands more easily,” he said.
Build the machine
Wamokota collected wood, nails, and a small water tank to make a manual washing machine.
James, who repairs electronics for a living, says that one day he came home and realized his son had built the machine with some of the remaining wood he intended to use to create a window.
“I saw that what he built was not stable so I helped him make some adjustments. I didn’t want it to fall apart,” he said.
The manual washer is held in wood with two foot pedals, one for soap release and one for water release.
It allows users to hit pedals without touching surfaces with their hands, which reduces the possibility of coronavirus infection.
James says his son absorbed the idea thanks to the Kenyan school curriculum, which teaches young children how to assemble and build things.
Wycliffe and Wangamati, the governor of Bungoma County where Wamokota lives, promised him a scholarship to complete his primary and secondary education.
James says the details of the scholarships are still being prepared because Kenyan schools are still closed amid the epidemic.
James said, “We are waiting for the school to open to contact him about his promise. (The governor) told me that once the school is opened, he will be given a scholarship for a school that can match his talents.”
Wamukota wants to be an engineer, and James says he hopes presidential recognition will open the doors for his son to become a great person in the country.
“He always says he wants to build factories and become an engineer,” he said. “I hope he does that, to become a great person.”