As you know, Ebola has been a tragic reality for the people of Sierra Leone over the last year. In the middle of this, we've remained more committed than ever to the people of Sierra Leone through a service and support program that focuses on keeping water flowing at approximately 100 previously installed projects. And, as you know, we’re also providing new water access for communities- made possible because of your support. Our teams have been brave and selfless - and we are so proud of them.
Very recently, Ebola has made a resurgence in our area of operation. Our team was providing service to a previously installed water point at a large regional hospital, and returned the next morning to find the entire area under quarantine. Unfortunately, this meant that many of our tools were also under quarantine. This, along with restoring some water points post-quarantine has led to reasonable delays in our program. We are very happy, after some delays, to bring this successful report to you.
We are in weekly contact with our team in Sierra Leone, and everyone is safe. The entire team continues to express their gratitude for your support of communities in Sierra Leone, and we can’t wait to celebrate safe water together!
The Susu Gospel Primary School is located in the area of Lungi Town in the village of Madina. Madina is a farming community and the Susu Gospel Ministry has really done a great work in this community. This is the first year for the school to be operating out of this building and location. The building is new and has four latrines with no handwashing station. The latrines are cleaned every two weeks by the student body. The school had no well. The children at the school and the community all fetch their water from the stream/swamp, which is not all that far from the school. It is a huge area and the community is primarily made up of farmers. UNICEF provided four victoria buckets for handwashing for the school. There is a fever monitoring station for when students arrive at school. Their temperature is taken. If the student has a temperature, he or she is taken to a holding area and 117 is called, as well as the parents notified and the child is taken for testing of ebola.
A little background on the Susu Gospel Ministry: It is run by Reverend Sam Sesay and his wife. They are Sierra Leoneans with a heart for the Susu people. In Modia, which is just down the road before you enter Madina, they have a church, health clinic and a small building they use for the pre-primary school. The school was started in 2009 out of a need for a good school in the community. Prior to this school being constructed this past year, the pre-primary and the primary school all met in the one small building opposite the church building and the clinic. Their clinic has a wonderful outreach. During the ebola outbreak, when things were really bad, they closed their doors to protect themselves. They have recently re-opened. They also do work in other parts of the country. This is the third project we’ve partnered with them on. They are very active and really try to do for themselves. They’ve done a really great job on this school and the latrines and requested assistance from other NGO’s, the Ministry of Education and Mariatu’s Hope. There are no other NGO’s working with this school.
The school is made up of six classes with six teachers and the head teacher. The school area is clean. The latrines are clean, though they are really few for the number of students the school has. There is one hole for the boys, one hole for the girls and then one hole each for the male and female teachers. The guidelines are one hole per forty-five students. There are no handwashing stations outside the latrines. The children and teachers need to walk around to the front of the school to wash their hands, which, by the time they get around to the front, their attention has surely been diverted and they don’t wash their hands. We will be showing the staff how to construct tippy taps, a simple handwashing solution, that can be constructed outside of the latrines to ensure the students and teachers wash their hands upon completion of using the toilet.
The school is set up overlooking the swamp area. It is really amazing looking out over the swamp area where the garden area is, especially in the rainy season. The school has plenty of room if they wanted to expand.
The population of the school is 170 students: 90 Girls 80 Boys.
PRE-BOREHOLE: A Constitution for Water and Sanitation Committee was formed using members of the school and community. This committee covers both the community borehole that was drilled and the school borehole. This will ensure that the well and the hand pump are maintained. The constitution outlines the responsibilities of the community and the school in order to maintain order and good hygiene. A baseline survey of Madina Village was done. A School Hygiene and Sanitation Survey was completed which found the above information already noted. Prior to beginning the drilling, the Ministry of Water Resources gave their approval for the siting of the well and the drilling of the well.
BOREHOLE: The school, teachers, students, Reverend Sesay and some community members attended the ground breaking ceremony. There was a time of prayer and then praise and worship, giving thanks to God for what He has done for them. Members of the school and community took turns turning the earth where the borehole would be located and the ground was prayed over. There was so much excitement in the air. Everyone was so thankful for this wonderful opportunity to have a borehole drilled at the school and that the fetching of water from the swamp would be a distant memory.
The drill team set up their tents and they were given one room in the school building as well for storage. Each morning, they had a time of devotion as a team. The drilling of the borehole began on the 15th of May, 2015 and was completed on the 19th of May, 2015. We used a hand auger type of drilling technique which is very useful in this part of the country.
TECHNICAL: For the first ten feet of drilling, we were in top soil. From ten to sixteen feet, there was clay. From sixteen to nineteen feet, we were in gravel. From twenty to twenty-six feet we were in sand. We met water at twenty-six feet. We stayed in sand and water to thirty-nine feet where there was a mix of clay and sand. There was coarse sand from thirty-four to sixty feet. We stopped drilling at sixty-two feet. The PVC casing was installed. The filter pack was installed to within twenty feet of the surface. We backfilled with clay to twelve feet and put a sanitary seal made of cement to the surface.
The well was developed manually using a bailer and rope and manpower. The students participated in this part of the drilling and had a great time being a part of this. The well was yeild tested manually by pulling five gallons at a time for a period of one hour, as fast as possible. We found that the well yeilded 14.75 gallons per minute and maintained a static level of 29 feet. Upon completion of this, the drill team left and the masoners came in to construct the apron and the security wall and drainage.
The masoners worked for a week constructing the apron using ball stone, iron rod, iron stone, cement and sand. The drainage ran 4 meters away from the well and a drainage pit was dug at the end. A security wall was constructed to the height of five courses and plastered. After this work was completed, the well technicians arrived to install the hand pump.
An India Mark II handpump using stainless steel rising main, stainless steel sucker rods and a stainless steel pump cylinder was installed, setting the pump at 51 feet, with a static level of 29 feet. The well was shock chlorinated at 100ppm. It was allowed to sit for 24 hours and then the school pumped the water out until they could no longer smell the chlorine. The Minstry of Water Resources came and tested the water, which came back safe to drink. The well was handed over to the school at that point. A formal well dedication ceremony will take place upon re-opening of the school and completion of the hygiene training with members from the Minstry of Education, the Ministry of Water Resources, the school and community in attendance.
The team slept out in their tents and thankfully we didn't have much rain. The school provided food for the team and there was some community participation.
HYGIENE TRAINING OF TRAINERS: The hygiene training commenced after the well dedication and the dismissal of the children from school. It opened with prayer. There were five teachers in attendance on the first day. They were really excited about the training and we were really excited to be working with them. We did a training with the students of this school when they attended the one room school back in 2011. When we arrived for the dedication, the students began singing us the handwashing song. This was a good sign!! The teachers remembered a lot of what we had taught the students and were so excited to be getting these lessons to teach to the students. On day one, we went over the SHOWD questions which have the teachers ask the questions What do you SEE happening, What is the problem at OUR school? Does this happen at our school/community? WHY does this happen? What are you going to DO about this? These questions are used to spur the students on. The teachers then learned about handwashing and constructed their own tippy taps. They learned about good and bad hygiene and healthy and unhealthy community. They learned and discussed disease transmission stories. The teachers stated that they were so thankful for the hygiene training they have received. They said that they really understood how the lessons were presented to them and they felt confident that they could teach these back to the students. They said that they were not only going to use the lessons in their classrooms, they felt a new surge of purpose and that they wanted to take the lessons to their own communities. They thanked us for the refreshments which were provided.
On Day Two of the training, the teachers learned about worms and parasites, proper care of the pump, keeping the water clean, how to make ORS, more handwashing, Important use of the latrine, community development/river crossing and clean teeth. The teachers commented that the lessons were very important to their daily activities and will also bring change to their lives. The teachers said the most interesting lesson was the clean teeth lesson with the tooth brush. Some of them do not change their tooth brushes and leave their toothbrushes open and never thought about the cockroaches climbing on them, carrying germs and sickness into their mouths.
On Day Three of the trainings, the teachers learned about Denge Fever and malaria, what is HIV and AIDS, HIV transmission and prevention, good news bracelets and the clean hands/clean heart song. As the days passed by with the teachers learning the lesssons, we arrived to see the school compound being cleaned. They had appointed their child health club members and had asked that five of them take the lead with the cleaning exercises at the school compound. The teachers had talked amongst themselves and decided to put a timetable together for the hygiene training and decided that every Friday second period would be hygiene training for the students and that the last period for cleaning the school compound. They said they wanted to be role models in Lungitown, to present the hygiene and sanitation trainings in the community and the school.
The teachers were so grateful for the hygiene training and appreciated being able to put into action the lessons they had learned. They appreciated the training materials and laminated pictures that were given to them to use. They appreciated that we intend to come back and offer encouragement and they know that we will do what we tell them we'll do.
INTERVIEWS: Three interviews were conducted at the school.
1. Esther B. Pratt Female, Age: 36 years Occupation: Teacher
"For the school and community, there is a big relief from them. Mariatu’s Hope and The Water Project made the students to stop coming with water from their homes to the school and it also stopped the students from drinking swamp-contaminated water. You’ve made something which they can remember until the last student of the school."
2. N’Mah Kamara Female, Age: 42 years Occupation: Petty trader
"From the time I got married at Madina, I started drinking swamp water. For over 20 years I drank swamp water. Only Mariatu’s Hope and The Water Project came and gave us a clean and pure water for safe drinking." She also said she will continue to pray for Mariatus Hope and The Water Project for God to add for them to do more and more.
3. Momoh G. Kamara Male, Age 30 years Occupation: Head Teacher of this school
"For so long the students have had to fetch water from the swamp for their hand washing stations and for drinking, which is not safe for the students. But for now, I praise the Lord, Mariatu’s Hope and The Water Project for their deliverance."
(We’ve included photos of each interviewee in the Photos and Video section below)
As you can see, everyone who was interviewed was so thankful for this timely intervention. The students and community suffered through such sicknesses as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, malaria and now ebola has hit the country. They are so thankful that they no longer have to drink water from the swamp and that they know without a doubt that the water they are consuming is pure, safe drinking water. They each expressed a heartfelt appreciation for what God has done for them.
DEDICATION: The students, teachers, Ministry of Education representative Mr. Boyah, the Section Chief Pa Alimamy Samba Dumbuya and the School Proprietor Rev. Sam Sesay attended the dedication. Rev. Sesay appreciated how Mariatu's Hope and The Water Project had come to the school's rescue. He was thankful for the partnership once again. Mr. Boyah also appreciated the intervention and the care that was taken around the students. He spoke after the dedication of how he was grateful for the training we give the teachers. Section Chief Pa Alimamay Samba Dumbuya was so thankful for the development that Mariatu's Hope and The Water Project had done in his section. There are many communities that have no access to safe drinking water and he is really excited that there will be more development by these two partners. The head girl student thanked The Water Project and the Halverson family for their love and care for the people and especially students of Sierra Leone. She said on behalf of the students of the school thank you! The head teacher was so grateful for this intervention. He said that he was looking forward to a healthier student body. There was singing and clapping and so much joy around this new water well. They said that they felt so special because they didn't get a hand dug well, but a real borehole which was deeper than any other well around, so they were so sure it would never go dry on them and that the water would always taste sweet.
CONSTRAINTS: The Ministry of Water Resources was very busy and gave us approval for the siting of the well. They came right away for the testing of the water and gave us the results right away verbally that the water was safe to hand over to the school.