Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 161 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/07/2023

Project Features

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Community Profile

Welcome to the School

The school originally started as Naomi Memorial Pre-Primary School, named after the mother of the founder. It was later changed to The Word of Life Bilingual Pre-Primary & Secondary School in 2013. The school was built in 2009 by a Nigerian pastor and his Sierra Leonean wife, and is still funded by their private resources today. It is one of a handful of schools that is within a gated compound, an added quality that attracts both parents and students. The children are shielded from the distractions and dangers they would otherwise encounter on a daily basis. The children in other schools skip school or would arrive late and slip out early. At this school, once all the students are accounted for, the gate is closed until school is out for the day.

The children get up very early in the morning anticipating the teachings of the day. Children rarely miss school because of the encouragement and counseling they receive from the teachers and pastor.

Water Situation

During certain months of the year, we get constant phone calls from this school! That's because the well there stops functioning every dry season. Over the course of the dry season, class is interrupted and students are sent out in search of water. Sometimes, they're allowed to fetch water from a Muslim school a few blocks down the busy road. The other times, students must search for any other source to fill their plastic containers.

Our visits to the school confirmed the seasonality of the well; as long as there was rain recently, the water levels were good. Unfortunately, the rain can stop for months at a time! The couple hundred students here become burdened from March to June.

Sanitation Situation

The school is spotless, and the children are presentable. The classrooms are swept on a daily basis, and the latrines don't smell.

Teacher John Conteh told us that's because of the school leadership. "The current health condition in the school is exceptional. The wife of the pastor was a nurse in the United States, so their keen eye is kept on the students to see who might have an infection of any kind. Since this is a privately funded school, the requirements on appearance and hygiene is very strict," Teacher Conteh said.

Plans: Sanitation and Hygiene Training

Training will last for three hours a day for three days. The facilitators have already assessed sanitation here and decided that hand-washing will be strongly emphasized. Though there were hand-washing stations with water, there wasn't a cleaning agent like soap or ash.

After reviewing hygiene and sanitation with teachers and students, teachers will invite parents to hear about what they learned.

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: Well Rehabilitation

The well marked for this overhaul needs major work to supply adequate, clean water to the school once again. The pump will be removed, and a man will be lowered inside with a hand auger. This hand auger will allow the team to drill several meters deeper to hit a new water table, which will ensure the well supplies water throughout the drier seasons. As the team drills, casing will be installed, transforming this hand-dug well into a pseudo-borehole. Pipes will connect this lower system directly to the pump, a construction that we know will also improve the quality of water.

Once this plan is implemented, the school will have access to safe drinking water in both quality and quantity. Students will no longer be sent out in search of water during the dry months!

Project Updates

September, 2018: A Year Later: Word of Life Bilingual School

A year ago, generous donors helped restore water to a well at Word of Life Bilingual School in Rotifunk Community, Sierra Leone. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more...

July, 2017: Clean Water Restored to Word of Life Bilingual School

Word of Life Bilingual School in Rotifunk, Sierra Leone now has a well that provides clean water throughout the year, thanks to your donation! Hundreds of community members no longer have to suffer the dangerous effects of drinking dirty water. 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 of the work that was done at Rotifunk Community, and be sure to check out the tons of new pictures!

Thank You for unlocking potential for these students. 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 in the school's largest classroom, large enough to fit the entire student body. Children are always curious about a new activity going on, so we had no problem getting them to attend. There were well over one hundred pupils in attendance.

1 sierraleone5109 training

Students stand up and sing songs to help them remember the important things they're learning.

Some of the topics covered during training were as follows:

– How to wash hands, and how to build a hand-washing station from a jerrycan, string, sticks, and netting

– Good and bad hygiene practices

– Dish racks and how to build them

– Keeping animals under control

– Management and maintenance of the hand pump

3 sierraleone5109 hand-washing stations

Secondary students were invited up front to use local and affordable materials to build hand-washing stations for their school.

Diagrams portraying unhealthy practices such as walking barefoot, open defecation, outdoor urination, and eating with unwashed hands were all shown and discussed in groups. Students participated in role-plays and dramas, too!

8 sierraleone5109 hand-washing

A teacher demonstrates how to properly wash hands at one of the school's newly installed tippy-taps.

Teacher Alusine Dumbuya said, "Our school children come from different homes with different background knowledge about hygiene. So, for us as teachers to teach about hygiene has always been a different case altogether. Your coming in as a team to teach our pupils including us about hygiene for three good days is something that we are grateful for. The training was good and very appropriate. We’ve learnt new hygiene skills on how to improve our lives as well as the pupils. We are very much thankful for the training and pleased over it."

Interview 1 Alusine Dumbuya

Teacher Alusine Dumbuya

Project Result: A Reliable Water Well

The school allowed our drill team to use a classroom for lodging throughout construction. This was greatly appreciated because it is starting to rain every night.

We spearheaded a new method of converting the bottom of a hand-dug well into a borehole. When we started this process, the well was at 60 feet with two feet of water.

The team sets up the tripod and pulley over the well. Normally, the team would go down inside the well to drill it deeper, but it was decided to drill this well differently. The team will work from ground level. First, they installed 8″ PVC casing through the hatch cover down to the bottom of the well. This ensures that the drilling begins straight and also keeps the hole from collapsing. They connect the bucket auger drill bit to the drilling rod and lower it into the well, continuing to add more drill rods until they hit the bottom. Each drill rod is 18 feet in length and every time the team empties the bucket auger, they must reverse the process by disconnecting the rods until the drill bit can be emptied. This method is more labor-intensive, but working from the top is much safer in this circumstance. There are different drill bits for different conditions, a special bit just for clay, one for sand, one for rocks and one combination bit for all three conditions.

13 sierraleone5109 drilling

Lowering the temporary casing deeper into the well.

The team encountered sand for the first ten feet, then three feet of clay turning back to sand. We stopped drilling when we hit black clay at 82 feet  so as to not compromise the water's quality.

4¼" casing was slotted for screen and lowered down inside the temporary casing. Buckets of filter pack were poured in between the two casings after which the team could remove the larger temporary casing.

Iron rods were cemented in the well lining and attached to the casing to support the weight of the PVC and keep it straight from bottom to top. The team welded a collar into the pump base to help support the casing.

The well was developed by bailing; two men bailed by hand for three days to ensure proper development. The well could then be tested by installing a submersible pump at 70 feet and using it for one hour. The team measured the discharge, which was 585 gallons. The static water level didn’t change! This translates to 20 liters per minute, confirming that the water will recharge fast enough to always serve the school.

With this success, we could rebuild a new walled well pad and install the new stainless steel hand-pump.

22 sierraleone5109 pump installation

We gathered together with students and teachers when the well was finished. Students sang and danced, shouted and jumped all around. Some older students were invited to come closer to the well to celebrate and have their first taste of its clean water.

27 sierraleone5109 clean water celebration

Teacher Prince Aruna said, "We are very much happy for extending to us this kind of opportunity and unique privilege. The provision of a safe drinking water source in our school campus, will not only reduces constrains and stresses from our pupils; but will also improves their health and ours. We want to assure The Water Project that we will ever remain appreciative for what they have done for us. We thank you and wish you God’s richest blessings."

Project Photos

Project Type

Hand-dug wells have been an important source of water throughout human history! Now, we have so many different types of water sources, but hand-dug wells still have their place. Hand dug wells are not as deep as borehole wells, and work best in areas where there is a ready supply of water just under the surface of the ground, such as next to a mature sand dam. Our artisans dig down through the layers of the ground and then line the hole with bricks, stone, or concrete, which prevent contamination and collapse. Then, back up at surface level, we install a well platform and a hand pump so people can draw up the water easily.

A Year Later: Word of Life Bilingual School

September, 2018

“I now have enough time in my classroom. Before, we were the ones who normally went in search of safe drinking water while lectures were on, but now that we have the well, that has never happened again.” – Matika Kamara

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Word of Life Bilingual School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Word of Life Bilingual School maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

A year ago, generous donors helped restore water to a well at Word of Life Bilingual School in Rotifunk Community, Sierra Leone. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from Omoh Emmanuel with you.

Time previously wasted in search of safe drinking water is now utilized for students' learning. Now, students stay in school compound till dismissal all because of the reliable water they have on the grounds. A new school building has been constructed thanks to the easily accessible water here.

School hygiene practices have totally changed over the past years. Students and staff now have the water they need to clean classrooms and latrines, and to wash hands.

Principal Henry Onwuma told us that though there aren't enough toilets, they are able to keep them very clean. In fact, Mr. Onwuma says the entire "school compound is always kept clean."

"Now, the school pupils wash their hands timelessly in the school compound not only after the toilet, but they wash their hands with or without using the toilet," reported Mr. Onwuma.

Restoration of the well is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project is committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by donors like you, allows us to maintain our relationships with communities by visiting up to 4 times each year to ensure that the water points are safe and reliable.

We also spoke to 15-year-old Matika Kamara, who confirmed that each class has daily chores that help keep the school clean and safe.

"Since the time this project came to our school, we now clean our school compound every day and throw dirt in the rubbish pit," she said.

"I now have enough time in my classroom. Before, we were the ones who normally went in search of safe drinking water while lectures were on, but now that we have the well, that has never happened again."

From left to right: Omoh Emmanuel, Matika Kamara, Principal Henry Onwuma

The school compound is taking very good care of their water point. Principal Onwuma said that students would always complain of stomachaches, but with clean water sicknesses and absences have become rare.

This is just one of the many ways that we monitor projects and communicate with you. Additionally, you can always check the functionality status and our project map to see how all of our water points are performing, based on our consistent monitoring data.

One project is just a drop in the bucket towards ending the global water crisis, but the ripple effects of this project are truly astounding. This functional well in Rotifunk Community is changing many lives.

This is not possible without the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, our local teams, the community, and you. We are excited to stay in touch with this community and support their journey with safe water.

Read more about The Water Promise and how you can help.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Word of Life Bilingual School maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Word of Life Bilingual School – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


Project Underwriter - The Blanke Foundation
1 individual donor(s)