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Location: Sierra Leone

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 180 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status:  Functional

"With clean water, we can now live healthy lives."

Mohamed Kamara

Community Profile & Stories

Ebola’s Impact

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!

Please enjoy the following report comes straight from the field, edited for clarity and readability:

Welcome to the Community

This village is so small that cries from one end can be heard at the other end.

There is never a normal day here. People pray to Allah until their foreheads turn black with dirt, yet they find no relief from the suffering they face. The biggest scare is not knowing where your next meal will come from.

Early in the morning, the ritual begins; from bed to the swamp to fetch water and wash the children who are fortunate enough attend school. Many parents can’t afford the school fees. The rest of the children run off to the swamp to scare away rodents from the peanut farm. Barefooted and hungry, off they go. Usually on the way to the swamp, they will come across cassava sticks that make a great early morning snack.

It is now the rainy season and the worst part is over. The worst month in Sierra Leone is August. It rains nonstop, and there is not much of anything to eat. During the rainy season, village children are sent to purchase food from the closest market a mile away. There is no way to preserve food stuffs, so they have to be purchased daily. Women and children undergo so much suffering here. Children walk miles to and from school, which often discourages them to the point of dropping out.

The locally-elected official applied for a water, sanitation and hygiene project on behalf of his community. Once we visited, we were able to collect enough information to deem a project necessary:

Water Situation

Locals fetch water from the nearby swamp. Most women and children use a five-liter jerrycan to fetch water. Standing over the swamp with feet spread apart, a woman will dunk her container into the water and hoist it up to the ground. Children often can’t lift a full container up from below ground level, so they bring a cup to bail water.

The water from the swamp is so murky that it is left to stand for one hour before drinking. Clean water should be colorless, odorless, and tasteless. This swamp water looks like milk, smells like something died in it, and tastes like mud.

The consequences of a safe water shortage in this community are catastrophic. There are reports of malaria, diarrhea, typhoid, fevers, stomachaches, headaches, and countless other complications on a daily basis.

Sanitation Situation

A little over half of households have a pit latrine. These are in bad condition! Just because a family has a pit latrine doesn’t mean they’ll use it. The children here are raised to relieve themselves wherever and whenever they feel.

No homes have a dedicated space for personal hygiene activities like bathing. We couldn’t find any hand-washing stations, even outside of latrines. Under a quarter of families have helpful tools like dish racks or clotheslines for drying their belongings up off the ground.

We met Zainab Kamara during our visit to the community (you can find her under the pictures tab). She’s not sure of her exact age, but thinks she’s probably in her 40s. She does know one thing, though, that “life is suffering.” She said, “I have lost a lot of loves ones. Some of my relatives give birth to ten or more children, but each time only two to three survive. We always blame witchcraft for the death of our children. We don’t want to give birth to so many children, but we have no choice. A woman without children to help her in her old age is ridiculed and is as good as dead. We do not feel pain anymore. I have been to more funerals than births.”

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

The town crier and the village’s imam will make door to door visits to make sure everybody is prepared for this project. They will announce the training schedule and instruct that each household must construct a latrine.

Training will last for three hours a day for three days. The facilitators have already assessed sanitation here and decided that hand-washing and using the latrine will be strongly emphasized. During our hand-washing sessions, community members will be taught how to make their own hand-washing station out of a plastic jerrycan, sticks, and rope.

Training will also result in the formation of a water user committee that will take responsibility for their new well. The members will manage and maintain the pump to the best of their ability, and will call our office if they need a mechanic to make a repair.

Plans: New Borehole Well

This well will be conveniently located in the center of Mapothie Village. We ensured that this site is far away from any latrines or burial grounds, which would contaminated the groundwater.

Our team will use an LS200 wet drill rig that has the capability of drilling over 100 feet. We will constantly take soil samples to make sure we drill to the best depth for quantity and quality. The well will be finished with a walled well pad and an India Mark II pump.

The community will provide manual labor, water for the drill rig, security for our equipment, and accommodations and food for the work team. Once the well is complete, the water user committee will team up with us to make sure that this new source serves the community for generations to come.

Recent Project Updates

12/20/2017: A Year Later: Mapothie Village

A year ago, generous donors helped build a well for the Mapothie community in Sierra Leone. Because of these gifts and the contributions of our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Nanah Mansaray, with you.

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12/21/2016: Mapothie Village Project Complete

We are excited to share that there is a new well in Mapothie Village, and it’s now providing clean water! Hundreds of people here no longer have to rely on dirty water from the swamp. Hygiene and sanitation training was also conducted, which focused on healthy practices such as washing hands and using latrines. This water and new knowledge give the community a great foothold in eliminating water and sanitation-related illness. Please enjoy this update detailing all the work that was done Mapothie Village and make sure to click on the “See Photos & Video” tab above to find new pictures of the finished project.

Thank You for unlocking potential in this community. You made clean water a reality, and now you have a chance to make sure it keeps flowing. Join our team of monthly donors and help us, our caretakers, and our mechanics maintain this well and hundreds of other projects!

Project Result: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held under a mango tree outside of the headman’s home. There are only 180 people under the charge of the headman, so we trusted him to notify everyone about the time and place for training. We scheduled sessions late enough in the day for students to attend after school. Because a large portion of people here are illiterate, our team decided to heavily use illustrations, charts, and diagrams to teach topics on hygiene and sanitation.

Our facilitator had been visiting the community to assess their strengths and weaknesses. They found that out of ten households, four didn’t have a latrine. We informed these families that if they didn’t build a latrine by the end of the scheduled training, drilling couldn’t begin. By the end of the three days of sessions, all four had new latrines! What’s more, all ten homes had also installed hand-washing stations and dish racks.

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This proves our lessons about these facilities were heeded. We taught participants how to build, use, and clean these.

We equipped a handful of participants to form a water user committee that will manage and maintain the new well for their community. The local leadership has also taken on some of the responsibility for the changes they want to see in their area; they want to see every household have their own latrine, hand-washing station and dish rack.

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Mr. Mohamed Kamara is a 29-year-old farmer who attended the training sessions. After, he told us about his newfound hope for the future, hope that his health will improve. “When the environment is cool and breezy outside, my skin flakes and peels. The water we have been using for years has caused this damage to our skin, so I am now wondering if the water has this toll on our skin, what about the inside of our stomachs? This training is the first of its kind. I only washed my hands when I was eating with a stranger, and normally the water we used to drink was just as bad as the water we used domestically. There was no need to wash our hands! With clean water, we can now live healthy lives.”

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Project Result: New Well

Drilling for this borehole began on October 8th.

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Once we delivered the LS200 drill rig to the site, community members helped us dig two holes meant for drill supply and waste. The steady flow of water from this supply pit helps keep the hole from collapsing as the rig drills. The well was drilled five feet at a time down to 60 as we inserted pipes to prevent collapsing. While this isn’t as deep as most of our other boreholes, we recognized that we had already hit two good aquifers. If we went any deeper in such soft, swampy terrain, we’d compromise all the work we’d done so far. It had already started collapsing a little! We placed screens at the two aquifers and then poured a mixture of cement into the bottom to stabilize the pipes. A day later, we bailed the water and then tested the yield with a submersible pump. The yield test was good at 70 liters per minute. We then gave the go ahead to cast a well pad, build walls, and then install the new India Mark II pump.

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The community was instrumental during this process. They constantly provided water needed for drilling, cooked for the drill team, and watched our machinery overnight. They even washed our team’s muddy work clothes at the end of the day!

The well couldn’t be finished fast enough for 65-year-old Fatmata Sankoh. She shared her story with our team during our stay:

My husband passed away in 2014, a week after the death a my one grandchild. I am left with five children and eight grandchildren. I work at the swamp throughout the dry and rainy seasons. I have buried a lot of my family. This is the best development that has happened in our village. This well is worth more than all the houses in the village combined! I can finally get a drink of clean water without waiting an hour for it to settle. We are noticed, and finally our children can get a fighting chance at life. It’s a clean bill of health.”

Ya. Fatmata Sankoh

The best part of this job was seeing the smiling faces when it was all done. People’s faces lit up when they saw the first drop of the cleanest water they’d ever seen. As the pump began to work, it seemed like people’s thirst would never be quenched. Children lined up to try this water, some patiently waiting and others pushing to get to the front. The smallest children couldn’t get to the front of the group and began crying. Joy was inexplicable as their parents picked them up and carried them to the front of the line!

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Performers came from a nearby village for a celebration lasting two days. People sung and danced to give thanks.

The following paragraphs come straight from our team member who was in charge of handing the well over to the community that day:

Crouched a few feet away from the jumping and dancing people was a little boy, no more than four. I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t joining the rest of the children. He was just there, rocking back and forth on his own to the rhythm of the music. He was bobbing his head from side to side, knees bent, holding a string in one hand. My eyes wandered away from the boy to see what was on the end of the string. It was an insect of some sort! I moved towards him to get a closer look, an realized it was a cricket.

That image took me back dozens of years to when I was a little boy living in a nearby village. Crickets are a great food source for children raised in Sierra Leone, and hunting crickets is a daily activity. We would gather dozens of crickets and then look for a hiding place away from the older children. If they knew we had crickets, they’d beat us for them. We’d always hide behind the bushes with a pack of matches, ready to roast our catches over the fire.

I was brought back to the past when I noticed two boys had joined the little one at the edge of the crowd. I gave them a “look,” and they left him alone. I then directed my attention back to the celebration.

All three boys joined the rest of the children by the well. I overheard the two older boys talking to the little one with the crickets. “If you can see through the bottom of a clear cup of water filled from the well, then the crickets are our’s,” they threatened. The little boy took the bait, not believing that was possible! When a cup of water was passed around, he discovered the bet was lost. Tears formed in his eyes and he began to hand over the string and cricket. Luckily, us adults could intervene in those unfortunate events. I offered to buy the cricket off of the older boys and when I had done so, returned the cricket to its rightful owner. The little boy said a quick “thanks” and ran away to be with his mother.

(Editor’s Note: Now, that little boy has both a cricket and clean, clear water. Crickets may be the cause of contention in this area, but clean water won’t be! There’s enough to go around, and it’s already changing lives.)

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11/07/2016: Mapothie Village Project is Underway!

We are excited to announce that, thanks to your willingness to help, Mapothie Village in Sierra Leone will soon have a new source of safe, clean water. A new well is being constructed and the community will receive training in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the difference these resources will make for this community!

We just posted an initial report from our partner in the field including an introduction to the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you updated as the work progresses.

Check out the tabs above to learn more, and Thank You for caring for the thirsty!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Videos

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Port Loko, Kaffu Bullom, Lungi, Mayaya, Mapothie
ProjectID: 5094
Install Date:  12/21/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 12/04/2017

Visit History:
04/05/2017 — Functional
05/26/2017 — Functional
08/25/2017 — Functional
12/04/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Mapothie Village

December, 2017

Because there was no other water source they just drank the swamp water. Since this project was completed, they have access to safe and pure water and even some changes happen through the role play lesson that they learnt during the hygiene training.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a well for the Mapothie community in Sierra Leone. Because of these gifts and the contributions of our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Nanah Mansaray, with you.

The well in Mapothie has opened doors of opportunity for many people throughout the community.  Ahmed Fullah Kamara shares, “Children go to school on time because they don’t have to go to the stream, which is too far from the village. They can simply fetch water from the pump, bathe, and then go to their various schools. Old people who are unable to go to the stream and fetch water because of the distance now have the access to fetch for cooking, laundry and bathing. We now have the access to safe and pure water for every purpose.” Access to water impacts people of all ages in various ways.

Nanah Mansaray interviewing Mohamed Kamara

Mohamed Kamara is a student who attends Kulufai Rashideen Islamic Secondary School. He says, “I always go to school on time. I drink clean and safe water, which am very happy about this.” Mohamed sees the water as a gift and expresses gratitude for the work implemented by Mariatu’s Hope, and which you have played a critical role.

Aside from the well contruction, Mariatu’s Hope conducted hygiene and sanitation training, and Nanah Mansaray recognizes improvements and impact that this training has had on the life of the community.  She reports, “Since the completion of this project the health of our children and the entire community people has never been the same. Children hardly complain of stomachache, diarrhea, and vomiting.”

While it may seem like one project is just a drop in the bucket, it creates a world of difference within communities like Mapothie. We are excited to stay in touch with Mapothie and to report the good news as they continue on their journey with clean water.

The Water Project and our partners are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by monthly donors, allows us to visit communities up to 4 times a year. Read more about our program and how you can help.


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Country Details

Sierra Leone

Population: 9.7 Million
Lacking clean water: 47%
Below poverty line: 70%

Partner Profile

Mariatu’s Hope works with vulnerable communities and individuals to inspire hope through Maternal Care, Infant Nutrition, Safe Water Access, Proper Sanitation and Health and Hygiene promotion.