This project is a part of our shared program with Mariatu's Hope. Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
N’Baimbaya (Bim-bye-yah) is located geographically not too far from Samoya where The Water Project did a WASH for schools project. However, the bridge that connects N’Baimbay to that area is not good and is impassible for a vehicle, which means that you have to go out to the Port Loko Road and turn in at Youria (where TWP is also doing a water project) and drive through that village until you reach N’Baimbaya. Last year, as we were drilling wells in the village on the other side of Samoya, we had to drive through N’Baimbay and Youria, which have no source of safe drinking water. Unfortunately, we weren't able to help these communities last year and put them on a list, though they never left our hearts, for a borehole this year. It is exciting to think about the possibilities that God has for these communities.
On initial baseline survey, we found twenty households with a community population of 238 people, of which 120 are children and 118 are adults. This is a farming community and the people work very, very hard to make a living. They must walk a distance to fetch water from the stream. There is some open defecation, although some people have latrines. Some of the houses have rubbish pits and some have a clothesline, but none have a dish drying rack. There are no handwashing stations.
We know that some of the people who live in that village suffer desperately in the darkest depths of poverty, sleeping on the floors of their mud houses, water pouring through their roofs, going to sleep with growling stomachs. It is truly heartbreaking.
While there for our initial community visit, we met a mother with twin babies. We noticed that the mother and one of the babies had raised pustules on their skin.
They are pustules that people get from not washing properly and from washing with dirty water. Imagine, everything you do with water comes from the swamp.
The pustules are on the baby's front and back. The pustules are on the mum's back and so when she wraps the baby on her back, it seems some how the infection passed from one to another. Like we said, hygiene is really bad. Oh, how glorious it is going to be when they have a safe, clean source of water. Her house is located in a great place. It is directly across from the head man's house and that's the center of the village, so we are mostly likely going to be drilling the well very close to that location.
We will use a PHAST approach for our hygiene training over the course of several days, hearing what the community first thinks of their environment. We will offer to train them to make tippy taps, which are simple hand washing stations that require very little water. We will also talk about disease transmission, how to keep the environment clean, good/bad hygiene, how to keep water clean, and talk about how to build a dish drying rack. Since they are out in the bush and there is swamp area, they should have access to bamboo. We will also form a WASH committee using a Constitution for Water and Sanitation. We're really looking forward to what this community will do.
The people in the community came out and clustered around as the survey team talked about why they were there. The community was a buzz and seemed to be filled with hope, smiles on their faces, like perhaps an end to some of their suffering may be just around the corner!
When our team went into the village for the first time to do community engagement, people were moving all about, so excited about the prospect of receiving a source of safe drinking water. This village has never had any kind of a well. For generations, everyone has always fetched water from the stream and from the swamp. This is very big development for this community. The community was a buzz and seemed to be filled with hope, with smiles on their faces, like perhaps an end to some of their suffering may be just around the corner.
At one of the community engagement meetings held before the drilling began, we explained about the formation of a Water and Sanitation/Hygiene Committee or a WaSH committee. The community held their own meeting without us there so they could vote without feeling any pressure from us towards having a certain person on the committee. We did encourage them to have the committee be gender balanced. A WASH committee using a Constitution for Water and Sanitation was formed.
The team arrived and set up their tent and brought in the equipment. We spoke with the headman who appointed some women to be the cooks for the team, to make breakfast and end of day rice and to have hot water available for them in the evenings and in the morning. Security was discussed and people volunteered to stay up through the night to rotate through the evenings with members of the drill team. Security is a big issue and there is a lot of equipment that is left out in place during the nighttime hours.
The pits were dug with assistance from community members and people began collecting water to fill the drums. Water is needed because this is mud rotary drilling using an LS200 drill rig. Water was also hauled by truck from the stream. There was so much excitement in the community. It was great!
Prior to beginning working each day, the team made a time to gather those community members who were around for a time of prayer to commit each step of the process to God. Safety was also discussed daily, sometimes a few times a day, in order to keep everyone safe. Drilling can be very dangerous, and there are so many children in this village, so we wanted to be sure that everyone was always watching what the children were doing so no one would get hurt. It was so great watching the kids watch what was going on, wondering what it was that they were thinking. It was like they were taking notes in their heads of what was happening so that years from now they could tell their children and grandchildren about the day the people came to their village to drill a well for them. The thought of these children growing up with safe drinking water is a beautiful thing.
The rig was put in place and set up the day before drilling began, so that on the day the drilling was to begin, everything was in place. Everyone was so excited when the rig was fired up and the first length of pipe went into the ground. What a happy day this was!
The drilling began. From 0 to 3 meters, the team met top soil. From 3 to 6 meters, there was red clay. From 6 to 9 meters, there was red clay and gravel sand. From 9 to 15 meters, there was medium sand. From 15 to 18 meters, there was mixed clay and sand. From 18 to 21 meters, there was medium sand. From 21 to 27 meters, there was coarse sand. The team stopped drilling at 27.4 meters. There was water from 18 to 26meters.
The bags of dirt were laid out and the team decided where the screen would go on the casing which went into the hole. They worked with some community members to cut the screen and then the next day the hole was reamed with the larger drill bit and the casing was installed. The well was backfilled using gravel pack to 18.2meters and backfilled with clean fill. The sanitary seal was done 4 meters from the surface. The diameter of the borehole is 8 inches. The diameter of the casing is 4 and 1/4inches.
The team worked with a member of a previous community to develop the well by hand. A tripod was set up and the baling began. This took up to a week to clear the well. After that, the masons arrived to construct the wall which was built to five coursers and the pad and the drain were installed.
After the cement had cured, the well technicians came back in to do a water yield test which pumped 13 gallons per minute using an electric submersible pump. The depth of water during and right after pumping was 10.5meters below the ground. This is going to be a very good well for this community. The technicians came to install the hand pump. The well was shock chlorinated using HTH chlorine at 200ppm. The technicians installed a new India Mark II handpump with stainless steel rising main. The pump was set at 21.5meters. When the community saw the first water pumping from the pump, shouts of joy errupted and the women began dancing around and shouting for joy.
Can you just imagine for a minute that all your life you have always had to fetch your water from the stream or the swamp and now, suddenly, right before your very eyes, water comes up from the ground right there in the center of your village. Suddenly, your life is changed. Suddenly, the realization that you will no longer be needing to take long hours of the day hauling water great distances. Suddenly, you realize that life just got a little bit easier.... It's those amazing 'suddenlies' in life that cause you to pause and thank God for what He has just done for you.
This is what just took place for many women in this village. Thank you!
The pump was locked down for 24 hours and then the next morning the community took turns pumping the pump until the water finally came out without the scent of chlorine. Initial water quality testing showed that the water was fit for consumption.
We used a PHAST approach for our hygiene training over the course of several days, first hearing what the community thinks of their environment. The hygiene and sanitation trainer taught the lessons and took a participatory approach always looking for that input from the community.
Prior to the lessons beginning, as the team was making introductions, one of the community members brought up that they were so happy to be learning about these lessons and how they are so thankful for this opportunity to learn from an NGO that teaches people to value life with care through personal hygiene and environmental hygiene and sanitation. Another woman, by the name of Isatu Sillah, commented how the late Paramount Chief Komkanda had made a promise to them to install a water well in this community but all of a sudden his promise fell under the ground, meaning that the Paramount Chief died. After that, no one bothered with them. She said that Mariatu's Hope came and made no promise. They said as a community they started praying or so many years from many angles. They are so happy to believe that their dream has come to a reality.
The trainer taught about Good and Bad Hygiene, Healthy and Unhealthy Community, Disease Transmission Stories, Keeping the Water Clean, the Importance of Using a Latrine, Proper Care of the Pump and then how to make Tippy Taps. The hygiene trainings were held on different days.
When the trainer taught about handwashing the first day, she used a tippy tap. The community loved that technology and asked if they could make one for themselves. We love that kind of question. Of course we'll do this with you! We returned on a different day and we trained them to make tippy taps, which are simple hand washing stations that require very little water. They were so excited with this approach. There was a representative present for each household, so every house has at least one hand washing station. People came with their own containers. That was their buy in for this technology, so that they would have a better understanding that they are able to do this for themselves. We discussed the times that they should be washing their hands. We also talked about where a handwashing station should be placed and if a house should have more than one place to wash their hands. Everyone was so excited, and some people said that they wanted to construct another tippy tap for their house. We told them that they now had the knowledge how to make these and that they could even get creative with the materials that they use, as we only provide for the one tippy tap. The community said that they stand 100% to have healthy bodies.
We talked about the importance of keeping the chickens and other animals out of the cooking area and especially away from the dishes from which they are eating. Some houses had dish drying racks, but not all, so we asked that those who had the dish drying racks would work with those who didn't have them and make them for themselves. We discussed how it's important to share knowledge and information with each other and how we can all be teachers. We will return at a later date to check to see if the community made the dish racks. The bamboo is plentiful where they are living, as it is so close to the swamp area.
The Imam spoke to the people in the training session, "Now we can boast of pure drinking water and hygiene training being provided by Mariatu's Hope. This organization is full of human milk that provides the basic needs of life which are pure water, hygiene trainings and sanitation. We are so thankful." He asked to extend a thank you to our partners, The Water Project, and their donors. He said he is so thankful. You have made such a big difference here.
The community began singing and dancing to show their appreciation because they are a very vulnerable community living so far out in the bush.
Name: Mr. Saio Dumbuya Age: 43 years Occupation: Farmer and Headman
"Firstly, since I was born in this village, this is our first water well and also the very first development and goodness that Mr. Robert and Mummy Ruth (from Mariatu’s Hope)have brought in our village through the donor. Thank you to Mariatu's Hope and The Water Project and their donors for the good work they have done for us. It has remain a legacy in our community forever. Moreover, we conduct a dance show to tell the people that have promise us for a well and do not fulfill that we have got a water well. And it has come to our notice that Mariatu's Hope is not a deceiving NGO. Welcome to Mariatu's Hope and The Water Project in our community. Thank you!"
Name: Emma Suma Age: 14 years Gender: Female Occupation: Student at Samoya Susu Gospel School
"Thank you very much to Mariatu's Hope and to The Water Project for the saving they have done to our lives. I started to fetch water with a five gallon rubber since I was seven years old. Carrying five gallon rubbers on my head has decreased my height. I normally fetch seven rubbers of water daily if we did not do any palm oil work. If we did palm oil work, I fetch ten rubbers of water before going to school. I normally go late to school for fetching water. With your help, you have redeemed my time for me to not be late to school. You also taught me how to make tippy taps rubbers in all the toilets. You have not given us a well alone. You have also taught my parents how to take care of our home and the environment. The donors and Mariatu's Hope have made me to be boastful to my colleagues in school. May God provide all the wishes of the donors, Mariatu's Hope and The Water Project that they have in their hearts."
As the community gathered around the water well, there was so much buzzing about how sweet the water tastes and how much easier life is. Words like easy, good, taste, sweet, thankful, grateful, happy, gladdy, honesty are just some of the words that came from the mouths of the community members who attended this dedication. It truly was beautiful.
Zainab shared Psalm 34 with the community. "Taste and see that the Lord is good! Not only do you have sweet, sweet water, you have the goodness of God in a very real way!" She shared that now they have water for physical drink to consider Jesus Christ for spiritual drink, that they would never thirst again.
The community stretched out their hands as the well was prayed over, for security and that it would never run dry. Everyone was so happy. At the Amen, dancing and singing broke out. People were rejoicing in all that had taken place over the course of a month, their village has been transformed. Not only just the "village", but lives have been transformed. Students no longer making multiple trips to the stream making them late for school. Mothers being able to wash their babies with clean water. So many comments about how much better life is with this development.
The headman was declaring how this generation is a fortunate one, for they can boast of havig a water well for their life. "For us who have grown up in this village, this is the first water well we are seeing and experiencing. Let us hold this well and take very good care of it."
Some community members talked about empty promises in the past and how God fulfilled their prayers by Mariatu's Hope coming to drill this well. They are so appreciative to The Water Project and their donors for sponsoring this borehole. They said that they want to have a strong relationship with Mariatu's Hope and the donor organization. They said that they have learned a lot and are very thankful.
The biggest lesson any of us learned in this village was not really about the technical aspect, but more of a check within our own hearts to be thankful for what we have.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION:
The next follow up for this well will be in January 2016.