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|

News about Operation : Going Deeper

OpGoDeeper-Logo-Framed-300x260We’ve been sharing with you our activities and news on finished projects. This month, as a result of the Ebola crisis’ impact on our work in the region, now we’d like to share with you a forward-looking initiative to address immediate outbreak-related needs, as well as building partnerships and increasing the capacity to expand our programs. It’s called Operation : Going Deeper“. 

We originally planned to hold our annual Celebration in November. However, due to the Ebola outbreak currently ravaging Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea – and its threat to other countries, we thought it best to direct our resources and attention in a different way than the planned year-end event.

We look forward to the healing effects from a positive global response to the suffering brought on by the epidemic. We also hope to soon reschedule our West Africa Celebration. We will gather again then to appreciate West African arts and culture and to celebrate the receding impact of the Ebola virus in the region.Eloo-Shipment

Operation : Going Deeper focuses on helping alleviate the Ebola outbreak’s impact on the deaf community in Sierra Leone, and on expanding and building partnerships to increase our impact in Africa.

Word of our work has gotten around, both over the internet as well as word-of-mouth. In the past 18 months, Deeper Missions has been contacted by multiple organizations in Kenya, as well as in Ghana and Ethiopia, seeking to partner with us for sanitation, water and solar electric projects to benefit communities they serve.Keeping in mind the possibility of expansion and the current West Africa travel restrictions, through Operation : Going Deeper we will concentrate on three efforts for the next six months:
  1. Continue to support Sierra Leone’s deaf through our Hope for Kakua program to help alleviate the impact of the Ebola crisis on the lives of the students and their families–access to food and disease prevention supplies has become restricted and expensive,
  2. Raising more support for opening the Deeper Missions office in Freetown in order to deepen our work in Sierra Leone and to serve as a base for expanding our Africa operations, and
  3. Increasing our capacity to work in East Africa through partner-building site visits in February 2015

This is where you all come in! 

Calling All Partners in Operation : Going Deeper!
children-deafschool-area
If you would like to help us go deeper in our work, then please make a tax-deductible contribution , you can click here to make a secure online donation.
You can also send a check made out to “Deeper Missions” to
5765-F Burke Centre Parkway #209
Burke, VA 22015-2233. 
Thank you in advance for your continued generosity and we look forward to continuing the good work you have enabled us to do so far .
By |October 13th, 2014|

Ebola in Sierra Leone

who_logoAs with many people, the Deeper Missions team is very concerned over the Ebola outbreak that started in Guinea, West Africa, in March and has now spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The situation, most recently reported by the World Health Organization, is that there are 50 confirmed or suspected cases in Sierra Leone. The confirmed cases and deaths are in the Kailahun district about 95 miles east of Bo (Bo is where most of Deeper Missions projects are located). At this time, there is one suspected case reported in Bo.

I contacted Sylvester Dean, the Director of the Ebert Kakua School for the Deaf which Deeper Missions supports through our Hope For Kakua program, and Mohamed Nabieu, our volunteer, in-country project coordinator. Both men live in Bo; they are aware of the situation and are monitoring it closely.

In the early days of the outbreak, when cases were limited to Guinea near the Sierra Leone border, we heard stories of shortages of hand sanitizer in Conakry, Guinea. In anticipation of trying to support the situation in any way, particularly with hygiene supplies, Deeper Missions was fortunate to receive a donated gift card from Target Store T1076 in Alexandria, Virginia, thanks to Ms. Galiano.

Recognizing that Ebola is highly contagious under certain conditions, and special hygiene is required all the time, we also recognize that it takes resources on the scale of the Sierra Leone health community and World Health Organization to address the threat. Still, whatever small and localized contribution we can make should be made. Thanks for all who are willing to provide material and financial assistance to help comfort those in such a precarious situation.

 

 

By |June 2nd, 2014|

Amputee Camp Well Project: Complete!

Camp_resident_showing_finished_well-164x300

There were many happy faces on both sides of the Atlantic as we completed our latest project in Sierra Leone. The Mattru-on-the-Rails amputee community was joyful at the site of clean water pumped by the sun, flowing from standpipes in their camp, no longer requiring them to walk miles for clean water.

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Mohamed Nabieu, Deeper Missions volunteer project coordinator in Sierra Leone, visited the camp to see the new well in action. Traveling with Lappia Amara, director of the UMC artificial limb fitting center, they were greeted by camp leaders and residents who were enthusiastic about the project and the benefit it is already bringing to the community.

The project was initiated last year by Joy Jones in response to what she witnessed at the camp while on a medical mission trip (her original guest blog is here). The residents would have to walk three miles for fresh drinking water.

The design for the project was straightforward: drill a borehole well to the aquifer, (bypassing the groundwater table with its uncertain supply and purity), build a stand for a storage tank, wire a solar-powered water pump and then place the plumbing. However, gaining the funds in order to build the facility was beyond the means of a community which suffers from high unemployment, relying on subsistence farming and competing for day-labor work.

Mr. K, a camp resident, brought the impact of the new well into sharp focus for us when he said, “It has been long years now we have been straining for a facility like this. Initially, we have been using the nearby river for so many uses including even drinking. We have been struggling to get good drinking water in this camp and even its surrounding. We are over glad for this opportunity. ‘We say wata na life en na now we dae kam live we life de wae we want am’, meaning, ‘We say water is life. It is now the time to live our lives to the fullest with this safe drinking water’.”

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Thank you to all our supporters, especially to Joy Jones who brought this need to our attention. Through her tireless and enthusiastic efforts, and by the generosity of her friends and the Deeper Missions family of supporters, there are over 75 families representing more than 350 residents of the amputee community who will be enjoying clean, fresh water every day all year without the challenge of walking miles to fetch it or having to settle for drinking from risky water sources.

In closing, I’d like to share the words of Ms. M, the amputee camp’s women’s leader, who was very shy for the camera, still had these wonderful words to share, “on behalf of all the women in this camp, I want to express my thanks and appreciation to Deeper Missions and all those who have done this for us. We the women will now be easily able to do our domestic duties more efficiently with this water. We will now find it easier to cook, launder, drink, wash and do other things with this facility. ‘Mu ngohun nein go waa ha boi gisa vaa’, meaning, ‘our hearts are so glad for this facility’.”

UPDATE:

Even during the rainy season, there has been sufficient sunlight to keep the tank filled with safe drinking water for the community. The leaders have made an appeal to Deeper Missions that, for the sake of security, they would like to add a light to the area around the solar equipment. If you would like to “go the extra mile” with us, please click here to fund a solar-powered security light for the well area at the camp. Thank you again for your compassionate generosity!

 

 

By |May 27th, 2014|

Update: Amputee Camp Well Project – Construction and Plumbing

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We received an update from our in-country project coordinator and from the contractor that the construction and plumbing phase is complete!

This past week, a team of local workers dug holes for both the reinforced footers of the storage tank stand and for the grounding pit to the solar panels. Everyone is working in earnest before the rainy season starts making it more challenging to dry concrete (and keep water out of holes!). Progress went well as you can see from the photos.

There is now a tank stand in place and three distribution points which will have faucets from which camp residents will be able to draw deep-pumped, fresh water any day, any time of the year.

Digging_watertank_stand_and_grounding_pit-300x225The team returned to Freetown after completing this phase to wait for the solar components to arrive. They will then return to finish the project by placing the storage tank on the stand and the pump in the well, connecting the pipes and complete the solar wiring.

I am so pleased at how much support this project has received and how much of a difference it will make for such a disadvantaged community! Word has gotten around and Deeper Missions has been approached by another group to provide a well for a primary school and its surrounding community. If you like the results you’re seeing with this latest project, please help us jump start our next project click here and making a donation that makes a difference. Thank You!

 

By |May 2nd, 2014|

It’s National Volunteer Week!

addtext_com_MTgyMDA4MTE5Ng-300x193It’s been an exciting start to 2014 for Deeper Missions as we completed another sanitation project; this time in the Kono District of Sierra Leone’s Northern Province, and we’re now half way through our well project at the amputee camp which is just outside the city of Bo in the Southern Province.

Additionally, I have been having a blast the past two weeks interviewing and “hiring” new volunteers, all of whom are extremely talented as well as passionate about the vision and work of Deeper Missions.

So it’s fitting to close out National Volunteer Week by expressing my gratitude for all the Deeper Missions volunteers who lead, manage and administer in various ways to keep Deeper Missions growing and making a difference in communities in Sierra Leone.

There are out-front volunteers, such as Michelle and Kim, who work on partnerships, outreach and others who have a passion for fundraising. There are behind-the-scenes volunteers, such as Pam, whose communication expertise helps polish and focus the Deeper Missions message, and Jerry, who helps craft grant proposals (as well as traveling on our 2013 team to help install the solar electricity system at the school for the deaf in Sierra Leone), and Linda who ensures the travel forms, packing lists, and plane tickets are in order, and there is the board volunteers steering the corporate ship.

There have been “one-off” volunteers who helped us complete short tasks which added value and knowledge to our organization. And there are our newest(!) volunteers, Charlie and Tulani, who will be looking after our social media channels so Deeper Missions profile remains clear and engaged with supporters and others who are cheering us on as we work to help heal communities and change lives with clean energy, safe water and sanitation projects.

So, here is my attempt to express inexpressible gratitude to all those who have and are making the Deeper Missions vision a reality! Thank You!

Oh, and if you or someone you know is interested in joining this hard-working team and contributing with your time and talent, please let me know by sending me details here.

Yours in Service,

Derek Reinhard
Executive Director

By |April 12th, 2014|

Breaking News: Breaking Ground on Amputee Camp Well

For Joy Jones, it all started with a visit to an amputee camp while on a medical mission trip to Sierra Leone in 2012. While there, she witnessed the daily challenges faced by people who were maimed during Sierra Leone’s devastating civil war, including a three-mile walk to access clean water. Joy knew she had to respond.  For those following Deeper Missions for a while, you may have read Joy’s guest blog from last November.

Geological_survey

Well drillers survey for best location.

 

Eighteen months later, after tirelessly seeking funds, we are all pleased to announce the ground-breaking for an all-season’s well at the Mattru-on-the-Rail Amputee Camp. The facility will use solar power to pump water into a 3,000 liter storage tank and adaptive faucets so water can be easily drawn, no matter the disability.

Located just south of the New London Section of Bo, Sierra Leone, the Mattru camp was started in 2007 by Friends of Sierra Leone, a Norwegian NGO. The village is home to 75 amputees and about 250 family members.

Accompanied by Mr. Lappia Amara, Director of the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s Artificial Limb Fitting Center, Deeper Missions Executive Director, Derek Reinhard, visited the camp while traveling in Sierra Leone last summer.  Derek met with camp leaders and discussed possible sites for the well.

Breaking Ground for Well Drilling

Mr. Lappia Amara and well drilling team

 

“It was an uplifting and humbling time to meet people who, despite their harrowing experiences, were happy and hopeful for the future,” Derek reflected. “Deeper Missions is honored to work with Joy Jones and her circle of friends, as well as with Mr. Amara and the Mattru leadership to bring more water security for the families in the camp.”

We will keep you updated on the progress of the well on this blog, our Facebook page, and Twitter.

If you would like to help Deeper Missions continue to bring community-healing clean energy, water, and sanitation, please consider giving a gift today.

By |April 2nd, 2014|