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|

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|

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|

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.

Camp_resident_expressing_gratitude-168x300

 

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’.”

Woman_camp_resident_saying_Thank_You3-165x300

 

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

Tankstand_tank_and_waterpoint-225x300

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|

Upcoming Event: Panel Discussion on the Power Africa Initiative

PowerAfrica-300x225The Africa-America Institute will host a panel discussion on the Power Africa Initiative on January 30, 2014, at the TKP New York Conference Center. The Power Africa Initiative was launched in June 2013 and aims to increase electricity access in Africa by at least 20 million new households. Through the initiative, $7 billion will be directed towards efforts to reduce energy poverty in six African countries over the next five years. The countries targeted by the initiative include Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

Panelists for the event will include Agnes Dasewicz, Director, Private Capital Group for Africa, USAID; Shari Berenbach, President & CEO, The U.S. African Development Foundation; Tony von der Muhll, Global Strategic Relations, Shift Into Green Energy ECUA; Ambassador Tuvako Manongi, Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the United Nations; and George Monyemangene, Consul General of South Africa. The event will be moderated by Kamran Khan, Vice President of the Department of Compact Operations, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Last year, Deeper Missions’ team of volunteers helped install solar equipment and infrastructure to off-grid, rural communities in Bo, Sierra Leone. The surplus of electricity generated by these solar panels is being used for income generation and small businesses including a cell phone charging station. At the Ebert Kakua School for the Deaf, the newly installed solar infrastructure is also doubling as a living laboratory for older students to learn about circuits, electrical engineering, and sustainable business practices. Because of the success of these projects, Deeper Missions has been approached by a number of partner organizations to begin exploring the possibility of supporting solar power projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, and Ghana; four out of the five countries targeted by the Power Africa Initiative.

For more information on the event, visit the Africa-America Institute’s website here. To find out more information on how you can join our 2014 team of volunteers, visit our volunteer section here.

 

By |January 28th, 2014|Tags: , |

Wrapping Up Tasks and Meeting New Friends Who Aid

The visit ended in the same sort of whirlwind of activity it started with — we were fortunate that the rains were few and far between, which enabled ease of travel and meetings in the area.

Linda and I were pleased to welcome well-wishers who came to see us off and to go and visit with old friends who lived in the area; a wonderful surprise was to have a delightful young deaf man, Vandi, come by the missionary training center to say good bye.  Vandi was on his way to his job as an agriculture assistant supporting Manjama Clinic, one of the rural medical clinics associated with Mercy Hospital. Manjama also has a hybrid solar/wind power generation system to run their off-grid refrigerator.

Peter Jaka and Derek Reinhard

Peter Jaka, local contractor, and Derek Reinhard walk the Mercy Hospital grounds to site the Enviro-Loo project

 

In the afternoon, Mr. Jaka, the contractor who led the sanitation project at the deaf school in January, came to Mercy Hospital to meet the administrator and to walk the grounds and discuss placement of the Eloos when they arrive and construction begins.

The location of the four waterless solar composting latrines will be in line with the master expansion plan, which was initiated for Mercy Hospital recently.

Kulanda Town Local Students

Sanitation projects at Mercy Hospital will benefit the local community as well as staff and patients

 

It’s an exciting time as the capacity of Mercy Hospital grows. The Eloos are part of the overall waste management plan and will positively impact the surrounding community.

While at Bo Hospital yesterday morning, surveying for the pediatric solar electric project, Linda and I also met with a group of business and nursing students from Long Island University – Brooklyn, led by Dr. Mohammed Ghriga and Diane Kilts, RN.  The students were in Sierra Leone for two weeks, experiencing a variety of jobs and activities having to do with health care as well as with business, learning operations as well as going out to support the hospital personnel during a health-screening outreach at a local town.

Before the trip, students had been tasked to research an aspect of sustainability in the context of developing countries; I was amazed at the insight and questions each posed in an impromptu round-table discussion we had–there were observations about technologies and challenges to solar, wind, biomass, waste management and the like.  In the end Linda and I were invited to dinner the next evening to continue the conversation along with eat some really good Sierra Leonean dishes.

Dr Darius Maggi of West Africa Fistula Foundation

Deeper Missions Executive Director, Derek Reinhard, meets Dr. Maggi of West Africa Fistula Foundation

 

At the dinner, I was honored to meet Dr. Darius Maggi of the West Africa Fistula Foundation (our impromptu meeting actually took place in an area of the WAFF’s current building at Bo Hospital).

Along with his passion for healing, Dr. Maggi provided a valuable perspective on medical business operations in Sierra Leone; he is keen to collaborate and I hope to continue the conversation with him and his energy engineers as he continues his work in the area.

May 18 — On the road…and what a pleasant surprise!

The past three trips I made to Sierra Leone, on the road near Freetown, I caught a glimpse of a compound which included a number of small solar panel arrays.  I made a note to look for it on this trip and, fortunately I have an awesome wife who pointed out a Solar Training Center as we zipped along the highway–this was the same location as the arrays I’d seen on earlier trips.

Figuring we had some time to stop (we were on our way to catch the ferry in Freetown across to the Lungi airport), I asked Abu, our driver, to return to the center.  You can imagine my excitement to learn of the “Barefoot Women Solar Training Center”, formed in partnership with Barefoot College in Tilonia, India.

Barefoot Women Solar Training Center

At the Barefoot Women Solar Training Center at Konta Line, Koya Chiefdom, Port Loko District

 

The Chief Solar Engineer, Nancy Kanu, and the General Secretary of the training center, Edward Ananque, were gracious and met my wife and I to describe their mission to empower uneducated women in rural villages by teaching them solar electric installation and maintenance.

I’m grateful for the meeting and hope to learn more from them, perhaps even partner with them, in rural village electrification projects sometime in the future.

By |May 18th, 2012|

Building Projects and Solar to Save Children

Was reminded last night that it is the rainy season — everyone in the Missionary Training Center guesthouse we’re staying in was awakened shortly after midnight to deafening, full-force rain on the corrugated metal roof; only in vicinity of thunderstorms in the midwest USA have I seen anything close to the volume of the deluge that poured on us!

Vocational Building Project at Deaf School

Finishing the vocational training building from a grant from German Embassy in Sierra Leone

 

The weather cleared and it was a steamy, busy day as Linda and I hopped around the city, meeting at existing and potential future project sites.

Our first stop was to return one last time to the deaf school.  They were fortunate enough to receive a grant for a vocational training building, which will first be used to give students basic skills in cloth dying (very marketable in Sierra Leone) as well as tailoring and soap making.

We measured the roof area with an eye toward a future solar project that will provide electricity for lights and fans in the classroom.

Deaf School Math Class

A maths class at the Ebert-Kakua School for the Deaf

 

Before moving to our next visit, Linda and I peaked in on the students in class to say our good byes.  It’s been very moving to see increasing hope each visit as the students and staff realize that they can truly hope for better, becauseof the ongoing support from St Stephen’s and Ocean View United Methodist Churches.

Because Deeper Missions’ vision is to promote community business models which use clean energy or water and sanitation hygiene projects, Linda and I went to tour LoMa Builders, who have their own solar composting latrine design, as well as local building material manufacturing expertise.

Parry Fibre Concrete Tile

4 sq ft Parry Tiles are more durable and can cost less, when manufactured locally

 

Mr. Amara Sonneh gave us a tour of the LoMa grounds, where they also train local youth in manufacturing building materials. Of particular interest to me were the Parry fibre concrete roofing tiles, which I’m told are more durable than the more popular zinc (corrugated metal) roofing.  Deeper Missions is looking into trying LoMa’s Parry roofing tiles on one of our waterless solar composting latrine projects.

Linda’s and my last visit was the most difficult of the trip so far.  During the Deeper Missions team trip in January with the Virginia Tech students, we met a pediatrician who invited us to the Bo Hospital in another part of the city.

Bo Hospital Baby

Due to sporadic power availability, the youngest are particularly vulnerable.

 

The situation we found was that when city power isn’t available, and there are insufficient funds to run the hospital generator overnight, the oxygen concentrators cannot be run for children and babies in distress who are admitted overnight.  It was heart-wrenching to look into the face of an infant who is stable during the day, and yet whose future is uncertain if there isn’t electrical power after the sun goes down.

Deeper Missions is committed to designing and procuring a “tied” solar electric power system for the pediatric ward at Bo Hospital so that babies like this young one can be ensured they get a fighting chance at health, even after the sun goes down.  Please look for more information and, in the mean time, help us get a jump on this life-saving energy project with a compassionate, generous donation by clicking here.

By |May 16th, 2012|

Rechargeable Solar Reading Lamps

It shouldn’t hurt to study. These portable rechargeable lamps hang from windows and backpacks by day and provide clean light to study by in the evening. Typically, because of a lack of electricity, households that cannot afford a diesel generator use kerosene/paraffin lamps or even candles.  The smoke alone is a hazard as students huddle around the flame to study; additional hazards come from injuries caused by tipping lamps and candles.  Durable, bright LED lights with integral solar cells and rechargeable batteries provide years of safe, clean light for students and their homes.

Buy-1-Give-1 (or Give-2)

Cost: $20 provides clean air and safe lighting to a student for at least two years.

[Click here to donate toward solar study lamps. ]

By |June 5th, 2011|

Back on the ground in Salone

It’s been a great 4 days of travel and getting reacquainted with friends in and around Bo.

A number of exciting activities since arriving, including:

  1. renovating the Mercy Hospital solar vaccine refrigerator (hoping to find and purchase 400wh of sealed batteries somewhere in the city this week
  2. visiting the Ebert-Kakua School for the Deaf to learn more about the full plot of land, measure the perimeter and to hear the dreams and aspirations of Sylvester Deen, the school director

    Deaf School from the southwest

     

Jerry and I will survey the Child Rescue Centre Admin Building for solar energy and then I’ll be back to the deaf school on Friday to gather more video of the school in action.  Watch this space…

By |May 10th, 2011|Tags: |