May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Transmitter, 14 Port Loko Rd
Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.
We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Transmitter, Sierra Leone
We trained people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.
With distancing and/or small groups: Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.
We began training communities before the first reported case of COVID-19 in the country and before the government enacted public health guidance related to it. We worked with trusted community leaders and Water User Committees to gather community members for the training. Although community members did not observe social distancing during the training, we sensitized them on its importance and effectiveness in combating the spread of the virus.
We covered essential hygiene lessons:
- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station
- Proper handwashing technique
- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing
- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.
We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:
- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19
- What social distancing is and how to practice it
- How to cough into an elbow
- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.
- How to make and properly wear a facemask.
During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point.
Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.
We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.
Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.
February, 2020: Transmitter, #14 Port Loko Road Project Complete!
We are excited to share that there is a safe, reliable borehole well at #14 Port Loko Road. The community members no longer have to rely on unsafe water to meet their daily needs. We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training, which focused on healthy practices such as handwashing and using latrines.
The drilling of this new borehole was a success and clean water is flowing!
"This facility has transformed our lives. In fact, it has saved lives," declared Sama Turay, a local palm wine vendor who will rely on the well to meet her daily water needs.
"Aside from the fact that it is providing clean water, the dangers that used to face our kids crossing that very dangerous highway have been eliminated. That is what I mean by saving lives. What is even more pleasing is the complete eradication of the pains we encounter by traveling the long distance to the swamp."
Transmitter Community has long been expecting this project and it has finally happened. They have waited for this dedication like no other. Their preparation was demonstrated by the provision of a whole musical set for the dedication ceremony. This was all set up even before the arrival of the team.
Retired police officer and community leader Pa Chester Mansaray organized music to attract people to the dedication for the community's new well. An older woman, Ya Kadiatu, sat at her veranda close to the well and sang traditional songs in a melodious voice. Her songs attracted more people and the singing soon intensified.
People were dancing and celebrating when our teams arrived. Everybody around the tap wanted to have their share of the fun. Children were splashing the water and people were filling up their cups to drink from their new well. After the fun time, selected community people came up to deliver short speeches in appreciation of the project.
Pa Chester was the first speaker and his speech was full of thanks and appreciation for the project. According to him, this community has been run on bad drinking water for many years, until now. He particularly glorified the spirit of charity by the donors and the hard work of the organization’s staff. Next to give a speech was the head man of the community, Pa Ansumana Sawaneh. Like Pa Chester, he was also full of thanks and praise for the organization and its donors. The final speaker was an elderly woman named Mammy Hawa Kamara. She too offered thanks on behalf of the community.
Pa Chester was the first person to greet our drill team upon their arrival. He played the lead roll in ensuring that this project came to this community. Any staff that came here during this project went back to our office with good words about Pa Chester’s hospitality.
2 pits were dug next to the drill rig, 1 for the drill’s water supply and another for what was pulled back up out of the borehole. The community people came out in their numbers and fetched water to fill all of the empty drums for drilling. During the process of community people filling the drums, the team was also busy cleaning up their drilling equipment. The exercises for both teams lasted a whole day.
Day 1 of drilling started with filling the 2 pits with water mixed with bentonite. A 4-inch carbide-tipped bit was fixed to the 5-foot-long drill stem. The mud pump was started to supply water to the drill rig and the drilling starts. During drilling, after every 5-foot length of drill stem put into the hole the team would take material samples. The bags were labeled 1, 2, 3, and so on. These are to be reviewed later to determine the aquifer locations.
The second day of drilling was meant to expand the hole and clear it of mud. The team reached a total depth of 28. 5 meters.
The team forcefully pumped clean water into the well to clear out any mud and debris from drilling. After, the filter pack was added so that the screened pipe would be protected. The temporary drilling casing was hoisted out so that we could fortify the pipes with cement.
The well was bailed by hand for 3 days before doing a yield test to verify the water quantity, which ended up being 39.7 liters per minute at a static water level of 13.9 meters
With these great results, a stainless steel India MkII pump was installed. Water quality tests show that this is clean water fit for drinking!
Before any hygiene training happened, repeated phone calls and visits were made to the committee to help them understand the challenges and lack of sanitation facilities in the community. The findings from our baseline survey were brought to the attention of the water user committee to help them make the necessary adjustments before the training or drilling could commence. When all the necessary and required guidelines were met, then and only then did our team of hygiene trainers go to conduct the training.
The training was held outside Mr. Thomas’ house, a few meters from the main Port Loko Lungi highway. Benches and chairs were positioned in rows to ensure participants felt relaxed for the teaching and learning exercises. The weather was very splendid because this training was conducted in the dry season. The atmosphere was very friendly, shiny, and calm.
Training topics covered included handwashing and tippy taps; good and bad hygiene; disease transmission and prevention; worms and parasites; proper care of teeth; proper care of the pump; keeping the water clean; the cost recovery system; dishracks and clotheslines; the importance of toilets; keeping the latrine clean; balanced diets; diarrhea doll; and HIV and AIDS.
The teaching method was not an instructor-centered one. We used an approach where nearly all participants were involved in the teaching and learning process. The training started with handwashing. To illustrate how germs are spread we conducted an activity where some people put glitter on their hands before shaking hands with another person. This helps show how easily germs can spread from one person to the next and the importance of handwashing at critical times. They also participated in demonstrating the traditional handwashing method and they were also involved in the group discussions on lessons like good and bad hygiene. The training was very participant-oriented and people enjoyed the activities.
"This training will definitely change the bad health practices in our community. To be honest, some of our bad hygiene practices are a result of a lack of knowledge. I, in particular, have learned so many new things during this training process," said Pa Chester.
The participants were especially engaged in learning how to make tippy tap handwashing stations that they can use at home. The trainer asked 5 men and 5 women to step forward and learn how to make a tippy tap. The materials were already set up on a table and they went through the construction process as the rest of the participants watched. People were jovial during this session and enjoyed the fact that it is so easy to make a handwashing station that they can place in the kitchen and near bathrooms.
Thank you for making all of this possible!