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|

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|

Countdown to Kenya – Pt. I

Map-Kenya-252x300Hi All, a little over a year ago we were approached by MANDO to consider a partnership in the clean energy and water projects they are developing for Maasai communities in Kenya’s Southern Rift Valley and beyond. We originally planned to have a program and partnership trip combining stops in Sierra Leone and Kenya; however, with the Ebola outbreak continuing to be a health and safety challenge in Sierra Leone, with great sadness we were forced to skip that stop.

On Saturday, January 24th, Deeper Missions board members, Derek and Ross will meet up with Kim (another DM board member currently on a public health fellowship in Uganda) in Nairobi and start an awesome journey of 1000 miles visiting sites, meeting folks from social enterprises such as Green EmpowermentPowerGen and others.

Then it will be on to Kampala, Uganda which, along the way, will permit us to visit with other organizations which have reached out to Deeper Missions for help with power and sanitation needs.

We are looking forward to sharing this latest adventure with you as we go (connectivity permitting).

 

By |January 18th, 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|

Deeper Missions Board Sets Its Course

This past weekend the Deeper Missions Board held its first annual retreat. It was an exciting time and expectations for a great event were running high–and we weren’t disappointed.

The board celebrated the growth and maturing of Deeper Missions and, with some great discussion, honed our vision and mission (pleasantly, this effort essentially affirmed much of the direction we had been taking). Attention was given to clearly restating  of our values as an organization, starting with the view that every life that touches Deeper Missions is important and that value will shape our operations. We also further clarified some of our operational principles which included an emphasis on sourcing parts and labor locally to the maximum extent possible for all projects, and to conscientiously build into our plans the means to empower community ownership of projects delivered.

Board_Retreat_With_Hon_Hannah-300x179

But wait, it gets better! We were honored with a visit from the Honorable Hannah Bundu Songowa, the Majority Deputy Chief Whip of the Sierra Leone Parliament. During our working lunch, the board received first-hand insight into the national government, candid discussions on challenges for both International NGOs and development efforts by the various ministries. Additionally, the Hon. Hannah put a personal face on the regional struggle against the Ebola outbreak.

The meeting continued with a panel discussion including the Hon. Hannah and Mr. Gibrill Jalloh who has worked with the World Bank, is a recent MPA graduate from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and earned a BSc in Environment and Development from Njala University in Sierra Leone.

All in all, for a first effort by a small group with big dreams, the day was very successful! Please look for more updates on the work Deeper Missions is doing (a new well is underway, and we are helping support the national effort for more Ebola protection supplies), and learn more about the goals we’ve set to further address the needs for safe water, proper sanitation and green energy for communities in Africa.

By |August 31st, 2014|Tags: , , , , |