Project Update – More Solar In Sierra Leone!

Rooftop Solar Panel Install-Roke Fullah School-Sierra LeoneAfter a successful well project for our Roke Fullah partner school in the rural Tonkolili District in Sierra Leone (where children are now drinking clean water for the first time in their life!), last week we started installing solar electricity for the school, thanks to generous gifts from you all!

I wanted to share these pictures which just arrived, showing the progress being made. By the end of the month these students and their community will experience another first: reading and meeting without burning candles or kerosene! I hope you appreciate what an awesome benefit this is–for both their respiratory health as well as improved and safer ability to study!

Community-Built Cellphone Charging Kiosk and Solar Control Center

Community-Built Cellphone Charging Kiosk and Solar Control Center

Local helpers receive training on operating the solar electricity system

Local helpers receive training on operating the solar electricity system

But wait, there’s more <grin>! Keeping with our model to design empowerment and sustainability into our projects, our partner school has elected to start a cellphone charging service to generate income along with the benefit of free electricity. First order of business for the charging service will be to put enough funds aside to handle any maintenance and component failure that may occur. After that, profits will go to offset costs for operating the school.

Those who will run the Roke Fullah solar cellphone charging business are being trained by those who run the cellphone charging service at the Ebert Kakua School for the Deaf, the location of our first solar install which is still going strong since 2013.

Thank you to all who have helped get this project off the ground!

 

 

By |July 18th, 2017|

Our First Shipping Container – Guest Post

Hello friends of Deeper Missions. I’m Ross Meglathery and I serve as the president of the Deeper Missions board of directors. It’s been a while since our last post and we’ve been busy!  As we begin the summer and mid-way through the year, I wanted to update you on an exciting accomplishment.

Eloo Container Departing VirginiaAs you know we are focused on clean energy, safe water and sanitation for schools in Africa. Additionally, as we grow, we are always exploring ways to more quickly and efficiently provide these services while minimizing costs.  I am happy to announce that thanks to your generous support and with the help of the Manassas, Virginia-based, SES Companies, we have established our first Eloo storage facility in Sierra Leone.   In case you do not remember or are unaware, Eloos are septic systems that do not use water, and use the sun’s heat to kill pathogens and dehydrate the human waste, rendering it safe in a matter of weeks.  Not only is the waste harmless, it can be re-purposed safely as fertilizer.

Our “facility” is a 20-foot shipping container that we purchased to ship 16 Eloos from the United States.  The container is now in a walled storage compound near the “Mile 91” trading town in central Sierra Leone.  It was quite a learning experience getting the Eloos shipped, through the port of Freetown and then over road to its finally destination. Fortunately, late last year we completed our application for International NGO-status with the government of Sierra Leone which now affords us some import benefits along with having some ministerial contacts who were helpful in navigating us through the port bureaucracy.Motema School Eloos

Our storage facility is just one part of our recent efforts to establish a more permanent presence in Sierra Leone. We look forward to expanding our presence and increasing the number of projects.  Again, and as always, thank you for your support in making this possible!

By |July 5th, 2017|

4 Reasons for Giving Thanks

Children of Roke Fullah primary school - Sierra Leone

Thanks to you, students at the Roke Fullah school in Sierra Leone can drink safe water for the first time in their lives!

Patrick Manoah - Volunteer of the Year

Patrick is our 2016 Volunteer of the Year!

This is the season of Thanksgiving in the United States. I wanted to take a moment to count our blessings with you and update you with a little 2016 retrospective as well.

  1. Thankful for our volunteers. As an all-volunteer organization, Deeper Missions couldn’t make things happen without the passion, professionalism and wide-ranging skills of our volunteer team. We recognize one special volunteer each year as a top performer. This year’s Deeper Missions Volunteer of the Year is Patrick Manoah Musumba. Patrick was instrumental in identifying and vetting potential contractors for us in Kenya, and then coordinating site surveys for solar electricity and borehole well drilling projects. Patrick represents the sort of tireless and passionate volunteers serving with Deeper Missions. Thank you all!
  2. Thankful for lessons learned. Winston Churchill said something to the effect that, “I love to learn. I don’t
    Mohamed Nabieu at new Freetown office

    Thanks to you, Deeper Missions has a new Freetown office

    Ribbon-cutting celebration

    Open-the-Office ribbon-cutting celebration

    always like being taught, but I love to learn.” Some lessons are enjoyable to learn though there are challenges along the way–such as the process of opening the first Deeper Missions international office. Government bureaucracy is always a challenge; however, it was a great accomplishment with no setbacks while completing the paperwork with the various Sierra Leone Ministries and governmental organizations (Deeper Missions was actually highlighted by the country’s Association of NGOs for our diligence and punctuality in submitting our paperwork). Again, thanks to our volunteer and Board Member, Mohamed Nabieu, who was the driving force in this accomplishment. Our certification with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development gives Deeper Missions official governmental recognition as well as the privilege of importing one duty-free shipping container per year.

    Borehole drilling in Kenya has its risks

    Borehole drilling in Kenya has its risks

    And then there are other lessons which are harder to learn. While Sierra Leone’s question about the presence of water centers on “how far to drill beyond 120 feet?”, we learned that, in Kenya, the first question to ask is, “is it there?”. We had a setback while drilling our first well in Kenya, for the Akili Preparatory School for Girls–after two attempts at drilling, even down to 300 feet based on geosurveying, the two borehole wells came up either dry or producing insufficient water to establish a well. The good news is that the drilling company only charged us for drilling one of the boreholes since neither were a success; the lesson that came with a bit of a price was that in many parts of Kenya, even with reliable hydologic surveys, unlike Sierra Leone, in Kenya there is a risk of drilling a nonproductive well, so get a second opinion. We now have that second opinion which increases our confidence in the existence and location of a productive drilling site and are looking forward to completing the well for these girls and their teachers in 2017.

  3. Thankful for partnerships. Earlier this year, the Deeper Missions Board of Directors refined our mission to partner with schools for a longer term relationship in order to bring clean infrastructure and related entrepreneurial opportunities to the schools so students can thrive. We are now teamed with some amazing organizations and schools who we are excited to work with over the next 3-5 years. Additionally, because of Deeper Missions work andGirls at Akili School in Kenya word getting around, we are engaged in some shorter term partnerships, such as with Rotary International chapters who have asked us to implement safe sanitation and solar electricity projects for at-risk rural schools where they are piloting education-enhancing projects.
  4. Thankful for our donors. Of course, no amount of “muscle” from volunteering and partnering could implement the level of impact created without the lifeblood of the gifts and goods donated by our generous donors. Highlights of our year include the fact that over 3700 students in Motema, Sierra Leone, will have access to safe sanitation for at least the next 15 years. And every day in central Sierra Leone, 200+ students and thousands of their family and community members are now drinking safe water instead of dangerous river water. Deeper Missions now has official standing with the Sierra Leone government (with Kenya soon), reducing project-by-project logistics and enabling us to bulk-import materials which cannot be bought locally.

Executive Director with Deaf School leaders and local childrenThe list could go on but I wanted to share these four special reasons to be thankful this year.  From me, my family, and the Deeper Missions Board, we  wish you and all those dear to you a Happy Thanksgiving.

In Grateful Service,
Derek Reinhard
Executive Director

By |November 24th, 2016|

Annual Board Retreat – Focus on the Future

2016 Board Retreat Members

L-R: Derek Reinhard, Executive Director; Anthony Triplin, CFO; Kim Hanson, Board VP; Ross Meglathery, Board President; Michelle DeFreese, Board Member for Development

We held our annual board retreat in Alexandria, VA, again and were able to bring members from all over the area for a the day of celebrating the past year’s achievements, assessing governance and administrative needs, and reviewing our 2015 Retreat goals.

Among the celebrations was completing a long-standing task to install our remaining stock of Enviro-loos at a rural United Methodist primary school in the Kono District in northern Sierra Leone. Thanks to funds provided by the good people of the New Creation Community Church in Dover, PA, our country project coordinator, Mohamed Nabieu (also a board member) , facilitated the installation of the Enviro-loos.

Additionally, thanks to Nabieu’s tireless efforts filling out forms and visiting numerous office supply vendors, Deeper Missions was able to open our first international office near Freetown as well as complete registration as an international NGO with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, further strengthening our relationship with the government of Sierra Leone.

The major outcome of the retreat was refining our vision statement to better guide how we execute our mission. At the 2015 Board Retreat, the mission for Deeper Missions was adjusted to include clean and green technologies. In an effort to better align our long-term goals for the organization and our desired impact on the world – the board members discussed and adopted a new vision statement: “All students can thrive academically and physically in schools with sound infrastructure.”

The change Deeper Missions wants to see in the world means helping students learn and grow in an environment that doesn’t detract from their health and well-being. A huge part of the impact Deeper Missions is already making is thanks to the volunteers who are giving their time, energy, and support to these projects and initiatives. 2017 will see exciting new projects and further initiatives that have lasting positive impacts on lives and across Africa.

 

By |October 2nd, 2016|

Schools are re-opening in Sierra Leone ‪#‎Ebola‬

schoolsreopeningDid you know…

Five million children have been out of school in West Africa due to the Ebola outbreak, according to the Global Business Coalition for Education.

How you can help

Due to the Ebola outbreak, students of the Ebert Kakua School for the Deaf in Bo, Sierra Leone, have been out of school for almost a year. Schools are now reopening and this project will help get facility operations back up and running by purchasing academic and vocational training supplies, stocking up the school feeding program, sewing new uniforms and equipping the newly constructed dormitory.

Please click here for more information

By |April 23rd, 2015|

Reflections from Maasailand Part II

Campsite_View-150x150I must say that the camping arrangement was much more comfortable than I expected (even with the no-hot-water camp showers). Each morning saw a blazing sunrise climb into our valley location and then ended with a similar evening sunset.

The last two days of camping had us ranging further away into the Southern Rift Valley. We visited the community Entasopia_Solar_MicroGrid-e1423940813486-150x150at Entasopia where MANDO had supported the implementation of a solar mini-grid within the community. We stopped at the local medical clinic (called a “dispensary” though it had all the facilities for outpatient and basic surgical care). This clinic had sufficient solar to light the lights but not to run the equipment. Additionally, it was too far away and required too much power to receive the benefits of the solar mini-grid. The Deeper Missions team discussed options including the clinic’s own solar mini-grid.

We also visited a rural girls’ school originally built by Compassion International before being handed over to the local government. The assistant director showed us around the grounds and we were able to greet students and staff and get many of our questions answered Girls_School-150x150regarding the sufficiency of the school’s access to energy, water and sanitation.

Our visits to possible project sites in Maasailand concluded with a visit to the planned location for a safe house for girls under risk of early marriage and FGM and to a community needing a borehead well. The second stop, the busy Eremit_BusinessWoman-150x150Enkoireroi Market Center enjoys the benefit of a solar mini-grid installation but lacks water security. Deeper Missions has already teamed with MANDO to submit a small grant proposal to a Washington, DC area Rotary Club in order to top-off the funding already secured for this very needy project.

With confidence that there will soon be a reliable water supply the community has already embarked on building a medical clinic between the bustling business area and the local school.

Because the Maasai culture values and respects its visitors, the local family clans pulled out the stops, slaughteringMaasai_Warriors-150x150 and roasting a goat in our honor and provided an evening of Maasai warrior experiences with young men demonstrating singing, dancing and jumping all against the backdrop of a blazing fire and bright starlit night. It was a wonderful capstone event that made our brief time among the Maasai people a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

From here we began our trek north and west to visit other NGOs on the shores of Lake Victoria and into Uganda.

By |February 14th, 2015|

Reflections from Maasailand – Part I

After arriving in Nairobi very late (and having a deep personal discussion with customs about the solar lamps we were bringing in as gifts–though they were looking to tax them just the same) Wildlife-150x150Ross and I made our way to the Greengos Hotel where, the next day, we picked up board member, Kim, who arrived on an overnight bus from Kampala, Uganda where she is participating in a year-long public health fellowship.

We all visited the MANDO offices in the suburb of Karen before departing for our campsite home for the next four days in the Southern Rift Valley. Coming over the ridge from Nairobi and descending into the valley provided some breathtaking views and glimpses of wildlife we would be seeing daily during our local travels.

On the way to the campsite we stopped to visit a pre-school to discuss their water needs. The local Maasai community was very welcoming and patient as they explained the challenge of supplying water for the young students.

PrimarySchool-150x150After a meeting that included words of greetings from the elders, the Deeper Missions team and our host, Michael Sayo of MANDO, were honored to be invited to take chai tea with a local family in their traditional minyatta home.Minyatta-150x150

We then toured the Oloikum Nasira Primary School and received more greetings, traditional Maasai singing by some of the children and an explanation of their school teaching material and water needs, and viewed the construction progress on the new classrooms which the parents and community are funding.

WaterDam-150x150On the way to the campground we also saw a water catchment where rainwater is captured for the community and their animals. As you can see from the photo, the stored water cannot be kept clean and presents health challenges for the families which use it.

The campground and amenities were comfortable and all the “staff” were very welcoming (I use the term staff Campsite-150x150loosely as they were all family friends and relatives of our host Michael). They explained that the Maasai consider visitors a blessing and, as such, are treated with great kindness. We were not disappointed.

 

By |February 6th, 2015|

Countdown to Kenya – Part II

Ross and I are pleased to see the details and arrangements are falling into place and we are getting excited to get this trip started.

MANDO-150x150We (Kim Hanson is joining us when we arrive in Nairobi) are ready for a whirlwind tour of southwest and northwest Kenya to see all the amazing projects MANDO-Maasai is involved with, meet leaders in the communities where there are (or ought to be) energy, water and sanitation projects, and take in the beauty of the country from the windows of a Nissan X-Trail. When MANDO’s Director, Michael Sayo, described the areas we’d be visiting and the routes we’ll be taking, I estimated 1000-1500 miles in 10 days–including a 2-day excursion to Kampala, which is Kim’s current base of operations with her Baylor University public health fellowship.Akili-150x150

Another NGO we hope to meet up with is the Riley Orton Foundation who are doing important work to empower girls through education at the Akili Prep School in Kisumu. Thank you, David Omondi, for reaching out to us after one of your visiting team members from Arizona met a Deeper Missions board member who told her about our work. Insert a comment here about it being a small world 🙂

micro-grid-150x150There are a number of other active NGOs and nonprofits, as well as social entrepreneurs such as Access Energy, who are helping MANDO realize their vision. One nonprofit is Green Empowerment in Oregon. Before leaving for the airport I had a nice phone conversation with their new Executive Director, Miel Hendrickson. She shares our excitement for the work being done in Kenya and opportunities to team with MANDO and other NGOs, particularly in the area of water wells and micro-grids for communities in Southern Rift Valley.

Watch for more news and photos as we learn more about the people and places of Kenya and Uganda!

 

By |January 24th, 2015|

2014 Volunteer of the Year Announced!

Kim_Hanson-150x150Congratulations to Kim Hanson who was selected as Deeper Missions Volunteer of the Year for 2014!

Kim moved from Rhode Island and started volunteering with Deeper Missions in 2013. She brought bright enthusiasm and fundraising experience to our organization. She expanded her impact by helping develop donation appeals, edit articles and attending events to share the Deeper Missions story.

In 2014 Kim volunteered to join the Deeper Missions board to futher help mature our governance and (despite taking a public health fellowship in Uganda) has been a regular and active board participant.

Thank you, Kim, for all your dedicated hard work and we look forward to seeing you in Kenya next week!

By |January 22nd, 2015|

Welcome our new Board President

At the first quarterly meeting of 2015 the leadership of the Deeper Missions Board of Directors passed to Ross Meglathery (second from the left inDM_Board_Retreat-2014-300x221 this photo taken at last year’s board retreat).

We are excited to have Ross bring his strategic planning experience and leadership to continue pursuing the Deeper Missions vision.

Derek Reinhard is stepping down as founding board president and will focus completely on his role as Executive Director.

Ross and Derek depart Saturday, January 24th on a two-week partnership exploration trip to Kenya and Uganda to visit projects being run by like-minded nonprofits in East Africa. So watch this space!

By |January 22nd, 2015|