September, 2021: St. Joseph Senior Secondary School Well Rehabilitation Complete!
We are excited to share a safe, reliable water point at St. Joseph Senior Secondary School in Sierra Leone is now providing clean water to students and neighboring community members! We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training, which focused on healthy practices such as handwashing and using latrines.
"I am today happy that the condition of the school pump has changed," said Fatmata K. a 16-year-old St. Joseph student. "The pump has been replaced, the fence is reconstructed, and there is safety at the well."
Fatmata at the well.
"It is now more reliable to drink from the well," Fatmata continued. "This will also help to prevent me from getting waterborne diseases. It is a better chance for me having good health, and this will also increase my regularity in school."
At the well's dedication ceremony, the school's principal, Margaret Kargbo, expressed her elation to have a reliable source of water for her students.
Margaret Kargbo celebrates with students.
"As the adage says, water is life," Margaret said. "This pump is a solution to the pressure that I had from my students at the school. It was hard on me when the school pump had broken down. Students became difficult to handle because they moved everywhere around the school campus searching for water to drink. It is their right to safe water. Today, I am happy that the school has gotten a safe and sustainable water source."
The ceremony was also attended by the school market staff and several local dignitaries from the Ministry of Water Resources, Port Loko District Council, and Ward Council. The market women recognize the new well as a way of boosting sales on the school grounds by better enabling them to cook meals for the students. Representatives from the different sectors made statements. Everyone sang, danced, and splashed in the water to celebrate the occasion.
Clean Water Restored
The drill team arrived the day before beginning work. They set up camp and unpacked all of their tools and supplies to prepare for drilling the next day. The community provided space for the team to store their belongings, along with meals for the duration of their stay. The following day, the work began.
First, we raised the tripod, the structure we use to hold and maneuver each of the drilling tools. Next, we measured the well's original depth. We then socketed the pipes and installed a casing.
Finally, we lined up the drill rods and started to drill! We reached a final depth of 19 meters with water at 13 meters. The hand-drill method allowed the team to install the cylinder far below the aquifer so that the community has great water access throughout the year.
With drilling complete, we installed screening and a filter pack to keep out debris when the water is pumped. We then cemented an iron rod to the well lining and fixed it with an iron collar at the top. Next, we bailed the well by hand for three days and flushed it, clearing any debris generated by the drilling process.
Finally, we tested the yield to ensure the well would provide clean water with minimal effort at the pump.
As the project neared completion, we built a cement platform, walls, and drainage system around the well to seal it off from surface-level contaminants.
The drainage system helps to redirect runoff and spilled water to help avoid standing water at the well, which can not only be uncomfortable but unhygienic and a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes.
At last, we installed the stainless steel India Mk11 pump and conducted a water quality test.
The test results showed that this is clean water fit for drinking!
Before conducting any hygiene training, we made repeated phone calls and visits to the school to better understand the community’s challenges and lack of sanitation facilities.
After this preparatory period, we scheduled a time when teachers and students could attend a multi-day hygiene and sanitation training. We then dispatched our teams to the agreed-upon location to hold the meeting. First, we trained the school's teachers, and then we held a follow-up training for the students.
Training topics covered included handwashing and tippy taps, good and bad hygiene habits, disease transmission and prevention, worms and parasites, dental hygiene, proper care of the well's pump, keeping the water clean, the cost recovery system, dish racks and clotheslines, the importance of toilets, keeping latrines clean, balanced diets, the diarrhea doll, and HIV and AIDS.
"All this new knowledge I will implement in this school," said Principal Kargbo. "I will also teach my families about the new knowledge, especially in constructing the tippy tap and the nutrition aspect which comprises all the food nutrients in their correct proportion. All of these are important advice to follow if I want to live long and healthy."
The most memorable topic for students was dental hygiene, especially when one of the teachers, Mr. Joseph Fissa, shared a personal story. He said he had a horrible toothache experience that almost led to him losing his hearing in one ear. He cautioned the students and teachers to always take proper care of their teeth to avoid a similar situation themselves.
The students also loved learning about tippy taps and how easy they are to construct. Some students even rushed to the table to watch closely as the selected students carry out the construction.
Many students rushed to wash their hands to explore this innovation. For some students, this was their first time seeing one-gallon containers transformed into handwashing stations.
Esther C., 16, the school's head girl, was especially interested in the topic of COVID-19. "The knowledge from this training will impact my life, the lives of my teachers, and the lives of my colleague students in various ways. This training has helped allay my fears and give answers to the many questions I use to ask myself. I am now aware of the COVID-19 transmission routes, preventive measures, and guidelines. Therefore, I am calling on my teachers, and fellow students to always remember to put this knowledge to practice, as it is for the betterment of all."
Thank you for making all of this possible!