It is not quite an easy sight to witness people feed off your lifework when you are not a beneficiary of the returns.
This is the plight of the brain behind the ingenious handwashing equipment, the Veronica bucket, Mrs Veronica Bekoe.
Although it has been over thirty (30) years since its invention and introduction to the market, Mrs Bekoe has not enjoyed the fruits of her labour as she was frustrated during efforts to acquire patency rights for her product.
“…unfortunately for me, everyone is now on-board making money out of it whilst I’m not making anything. I’m not even getting the containers to make the buckets to sell…” she narrated on GhanaWeb’s People and Places.
She, however, says her consolation and comfort lies in the fact that her ingenuity is helping the world and subsequently, mankind, especially in this era when Coronavirus is killing many.
Asked how she felt about the wide usage of the Veronica buckets, especially in an era when washing of hands seems to be a certain way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Bekoe said “It makes me feel good… I introduced this thing early 1990’s, and it was quiet, few people were using it and nobody knew about it, but see where we are not; so, I thank God for it.”
The Veronica buckets were originally made to aid Mrs Veronica Bekoe’s colleague biologists in the lab to enable them wash their hands with running water.
As was custom, Mrs Bekoe noted that she and her colleagues were used to washing their hands in a bowl of water after working because not all the facilities had water running out of the taps.
The phenomenon, which she described as doing more harm than good had to be stopped one way or the other.
“We normally have water problems. Some of the facilities did not have running water. And they were just using bowls to wash their hands… the bowl with the water sitting there being used even by one person is only clean the first time he or she washes their hands. If he/she does not throw that water away, they would rather be contaminating themselves.
These bowls of water are used by more than one person, so instead of decontaminating their hands after working, they are contaminating their hands,” she noted.
“It was around that time that the people who sell porridge started putting the product in aluminium containers. So, it just occurred to me that if we could fix a tap to any container to produce running water, that could help.
“So, I made a prototype with aluminium sheets, made it into a container and had a tap fixed to it. We used it to provide running water all over the country in the laboratories to demonstrate how to use running water to wash hands,” she added.