Ebola has been a tragic reality for the people of Sierra Leone over the last two years. Though considered stable at the moment, the country is still very cautious.
Our teams have remained safe and are on the front lines of Ebola prevention through this water, hygiene and sanitation program. Your support acknowledges and celebrates their selfless work and bravery.
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 community is comprised mostly of petty traders and children of school-going age. A majority of the people in this community are Muslim whose typical day starts at 5 am. The adults start with a bath so they can leave for the mosque by 5:30 am. The children get up the same time as the adults because they travel a long distance to fetch water. After fetching water, children bathe and eat leftover rice and sauce that is warmed up on a wood stove. Since the children are so preoccupied with fetching water and making sure that enough of it is in the household for the day's domestic activity, the job for warming the leftover rice is relegated to the mother, if the children are lucky enough to still have a mother to do that. If not, they will have to do it themselves. It is a must for the rice to be warmed up, because a majority of the parents do not have money to give their children. If that important morning meal is missed, there will be no food until school is out at 2 pm for primary students and 2:30 pm for secondary school children. After the children are in school, the women leave for the market to sell various items. There is high competition concerning who will get to the market first: The sooner they are finished selling goods, the sooner they can return home to start cooking for the hungry children coming home from school.
After prayer, the men head off to Long Bench or Attaya Bases where they sit all day looking for odd jobs that might come their way. Community members live by God's grace day to day, not knowing if there will be food on the table. The women normally sell until 6 pm, and if they do not sell, there is no possibility of cooking food that day. The men never involve themselves with getting water, cooking, or helping the children with their school affairs. A majority of the parents are illiterate, so helping with school is out of the question. Many families thus choose to send their children to extra classes later in the afternoon.
The Current Source
There is a protected well nearby the community, but it is restricted; at times, use of this well is off-limits, at other times, the well itself is not working. The protected well is in a fenced compound that is constantly monitored and often locked. Children themselves are not allowed near the well, so they must always use other unprotected water sources in the community. When women or teenagers choose to fetch water from the well, they must abandon their shoes and cover their hair. No matter how many containers a family might have, only one five-gallon container is allowed to be filled from this well. Sometimes, the pump will even be locked before a woman can finish pumping! The trip to this well is less than five minutes, but because of the restrictions, people often spend more than thirty minutes looking for enough water to fill a five-gallon container.
Once returned home, water will be separated into different containers depending on its intended use. Water meant for drinking is kept in covered containers up off the ground.
This community is highly populated; so without a safe, clean, and fully accessible water source there will be a lot of typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea, and cholera cases.
Over 75% of households have pit latrines made out of mud. However, these latrines were observed to be in terrible conditions due to the rainy season. There are centipedes, cockroaches, bats and rats that hide in the latrines. Some aren't even walled in with mud, but instead are walled with sticks and tarp.
According to the initial visit, it was discovered that there is not even one hand-washing station in the entire community. Less than 25% of families have bathing rooms for personal hygiene, and less than 50% have helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines.
The community's chairwoman, Isatu Bangura says, "The current health situation is poor because of the lack of adequate water sources in the community. A lot of our children, when they are out playing, will eat just about anything without washing their hands. There is no hand-washing station in none of the houses. Because of the no hand-washing stations, we found out that a lot of the children were always complaining of stomachaches, diarrhea and typhoid."
An application letter was sent in by Amara Bangura on behalf of her community. Upon receipt of the application, a baseline survey was completed on March 1st. After the baseline survey, it was easy to agree that there is great need in this community. They quickly agreed to our project guidelines of attending hygiene training and setting up a water user committee. They will also provide labor and food for the staff that will be involved in the drilling process. They will offer prayers for the The Water Project and Mariatu's Hope staff. The women and younger children will also provide water for the staff to wash up with at the end of each day.
Training is scheduled over the course of three days. The facilitator will use PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training), lectures, demonstrations, and group discussions to teach these community members. Because our surveyor found the sanitation situation to be especially dire, there will be a focus on the construction and use of proper facilities. Participants will learn how to build dish racks, clotheslines, and tippy-taps (hand-washing stations). They will also learn about the importance of having a good bathing room.
The new well's location will be 4 Hope Street because it is most convenient for the community. The location is far enough away from latrines. The landowner for the proposed well has submitted his land documents promising that at no time will he fence the well or restrict access: It is a well for the community.
For drilling, we use an LS 200 rig. The LS is easy to move and economical. The hydraulic system also gives it added power to drill through the occasional rocky soil that is bound to be encountered. It gives us the range to dig as deep as a hundred feet or more. The rig has 4,000psi with 1/2-inch hose that is flame resistant. After the well pad is constructed, an India Mark II pump will be installed.
Project Results: Training
Hygiene and sanitation training was held right at the new well site. After visiting the community for the first time, we met with the thirteen water user committee members. We consulted the local members to find the best dates to conduct training, so that there could be a great turnout. After deciding, the thirteen members went house to house encouraging participation and the construction of dish racks and other helpful tools. No reason to wait until training to start making a change!
The first day of training had over fifty participants. Women, men and children all came with their own containers for making hand-washing stations. The second day, training participation increased to sixty. The final day had the highest turnout. The crowd's participation, enthusiasm and their happy and smiling faces was icing on the cake! There is nothing more fulfilling than a smiling face on a person given access to clean and safe water.
The topics covered ranged from hand-washing, the importance of having and using a latrine, and making dish racks and chicken coops. Many participants came to training having already constructed their chicken coops and dish racks. We also discussed what makes a healthy and unhealthy community. The community had a cleanup day before training. Committee members got everyone to take up brooms and machetes to clean each house in the community. Floors need to be swept and bushes cut back in order to keep away pests!
Participants were very happy to learn about how to build a healthier community. Nadie Conteh, a 16-year-old local student who attended training said "The training was very informative. I am very amazed and thrilled to find out the more than six steps of hand-washing. I will continue to use these methods with my siblings at home and in school. I will not by food again that is put on the ground!"
A New Well
Construction of this new borehole began on April 6th. The first day of drilling was a success. We use an LS200 drill rig with 4000psi hydraulic lift, which got us to 85 feet deep on the first day. The second day, digging to depths of over 100 feet, the team realized that the soil samples had charcoal, so the total depth was reduced to 95 feet in order to prevent dirt from entering the screen. After installing the pipes, bentonite was poured down the hole with a cement mixture to hold the piping firm and prevent the well from collapsing.
The community was one of the most appreciative and generous communities we've ever worked in. The drill team returned to the office raving about the food! The women cooked up the best fish and the best of their harvests for each meal they ate.
There was only a small challenge during the entire drilling process: The extra day spent reducing the total depth to prevent the coal from entering the screen. The company that supplies water for the drill team was also late, delaying the drilling for hours. The rest of construction went seamlessly; casing, flushing, chlorinating, laying the well pad, curing, and pump installation were completed with no issue.
Amara Bangura, a businessman and youth leader, was so excited about the new well and education on hygiene and sanitation. He said, "This community has never had a well. No organization has ever shown interest in our community. [We are] now with the help of Mariatu's Hope and The Water Project. We are forever grateful and appreciative."
The dedication ceremony was on May 1st at 10 in the morning. The sound of people singing native songs was soothing to the ear. After a lot of jubilation, drum-beating, and dancing with the banner in hand, water was pumped and the pump was given to the community! A young man, Adikalie Kamara, who works crazy hours as a driver, is so thankful he can access water at any time of the day: "Thank you Mariatu's Hope and thank the people that send the money for this great gesture!"