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.
- 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!
- Thankful for lessons learned. Winston Churchill said something to the effect that, “I love to learn. I don’t
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.
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.
- 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 and 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.
- 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.
The 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,