Champions and experts from more than 30 countries and regions joined efforts to deliver three new toilets and washrooms to the Derbyshkinskiy Orphanage in Russia. Reusing some of the materials from the Plumbing and Heating Test Projects, including the steel frames, pipes and ceramics, they assembled the toilet and washrooms at Kazan Expo in a special team project on the final day of competition, and readied them for transportation to the orphanage where they were installed in the days following WorldSkills Kazan 2019.

The new sanitary facilities were officially handed over to the Ministry of Building, Architecture and Housing Municipal Services of the Republic of Tatarstan, which was responsible for the selection of the orphanage following completion of the installation project on Aug. 29, 2019. Derbyshkinskiy Orphanage, which opened in 1976, today cares for 176 special needs children and teenagers between the ages of 4-23. There are 171 staff members who work at the orphanage, providing rehabilitation to residents including social adaptation, education, medical care and work experience.

The Plumbing and Heating Champions project was a collaborative effort between several organizations, including IAPMO – a nonprofit standards and certification industry body – WorldSkills, TECE, the Russian HVAC Expert association, and the Ministry of Building, Architecture and Housing Municipal Services.

International Program Director with IAPMO — and its charitable arm IWSH Foundation — Seán Kearney, who together with colleague Grant Stewart helped to spearhead this initiative, explained the structure of the project and its focus on sustainability. Both Kearney and Stewart have personal connections with WorldSkills, having started out as competitors in 2005 and 1997 respectively.

“The plumbing and heating skill competition this year was three days, and then that was the end of the assessment,” Kearney said. “On day four, we ran a team project where all competitors and experts worked together to assemble these new toilet and wash facilities for the children of Derbyshkinskiy Orphanage.

“Everything was ready by end of the final day of WorldSkills Kazan 2019, and then shipped across town to Derbyshkinskiy where a team — including a group of local students and a teacher from the Kazan Construction College — spent two days installing them in renovation of the existing toilet and washrooms. In all, there were around 20 people working on site at the orphanage over the two days.”

Kearney stressed that IAPMO was thankful to many different people and companies with whom it collaborated to achieve the Plumbing and Heating Champions Project; in particular, fellow WorldSkills Global Partners 3M, Autodesk and DHL. As a Global Partner of WorldSkills, the project was very important to IAPMO, which sees water, sanitation and hygiene advocacy as central to its mandate, which the developing relationship with WorldSkills facilitates.

“We see plumbing and the plumbing profession as being crucial to protecting and sustaining public health and safety,” he said. “Wherever you may be in the world, quality plumbing skills and professional practices help ensure safe water supply and sanitation which, today, must be considered a fundamental human right.

“IAPMO looks at the big picture, and we see the plumber as akin to a healthcare professional. When these skills and services are present in the community, then in turn this can help protect and provide reliable water supply for drinking, cooking and cleaning, provide toilets, provide the ability to wash and encourage better hygiene, provide safe drainage and wastewater disposal, and safeguard all the things connected to good sanitation, and health and safety.”

The International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation (IWSH) is the charitable arm of The IAPMO Group and the platform through which the organization’s philanthropic and community-based programs are delivered (including the Community Plumbing Challenge, which was originally developed during IAPMO’s Trusteeship of WorldSkills Foundation, 2013- 2015). These projects have provided ongoing opportunities for WorldSkills Champions to further their personal and professional skills development pathways ever since.

“Our Community Plumbing Challenge program is run in different countries around the world,” Kearney said. “We design and build toilets, washing facilities, new water supplies and sanitation systems in collaboration with different communities in need. All the while we are promoting the plumbing profession while highlighting the cool and exciting opportunities for WorldSkills Champions to travel and share their skills to help make a difference for people who need it most.”