This Friday, Sep 26, Derek Reinhard, Deeper Missions Executive Director is participating in a live Google Hangout. The day will be hosted by Dendra Best of Waste Water Education, and includes a series of seminars covering water, sanitation and access inequality. Here’s the day’s schedule.
Hope you can join us! WEHD-Schedule.
Did you know that malaria is one of the most serious public health problems in Sierra Leone? In fact, it accounts for about 50% of outpatient visits and 38% of hospital admissions! In addition, communities in Sierra Leone experience other vector-borne diseases such as Dengue fever and yellow fever, both of which are carried by mosquitoes.
Today is World Health Day which is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), and is held on the anniversary of its formation. This year’s focus is on the spread of these vector-borne diseases. The WHO describes one of the best ways to limit this type of disease transmission is to reduce stagnant water, such as that found in pit latrines – commonly used in communities across Sierra Leone.
To combat the spread of vector-borne (and enteric) diseases, Deeper Missions is installing waterless, solar composting latrines called enviro-loos or “Eloos” in Sierra Leone. The Eloos are designed and made in Africa, for the African environment. They use the sun to dehydrate waste thus removing the risk caused by waste-infused stagnant water that attracts disease-bearing mosquitoes. The bonus is that the Eloo’s composting system converts human waste into sanitized, usable fertilizer for use in gardens! We’ve installed Eloos at the Ebert-Kakua School for the Deaf and Mercy Hospital, both in the city of Bo, and at a church in Motema in the Northern Province of Kono.
To learn more about how Eloos work, you can watch this YouTube video. If you are living in or traveling to a country with a high incidence of vector-borne diseases, learn more about how you can protect yourself from the World Health Day infographic here.
Deeper Missions posted this blog entry which explains more about our efforts to provide disease-reducing, sustainable sanitation in West Africa, and how you can help.
This year’s annual UN World Water Day (WWD) will take place on March 22, 2014. The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the UN University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH) are co-organizing the event. The theme of this year’s WWD is Energy and Water; two key components of Deeper Missions’ work. The objectives of this year’s WWD are the following:
- Raise awareness of the inter-linkages between water and energy
- Contribute to a policy dialogue that focuses on the broad range of issues related to the nexus of water and energy
- Demonstrate, through case studies, to decision makers in the energy sector and the water domain that integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy issues can achieve greater economic and social impacts
- Identify policy formulation and capacity development issues in which the UN system, in particular UN-Water and UN-Energy, can offer significant contributions
- Identify key stakeholders in the water-energy nexus and actively engaging them in further developing the water-energy linkages
- Contribute as relevant to the post-2015 discussions in relation to the water-energy nexus.
In celebration of World Water Day, Deeper Missions will take part in the upcoming World Water Day Expo and Symposium (WWDS) at the University of Virginia’s Charlottesville campus on Friday, March 21, 2014. The symposium will feature presentations, exhibitions, and lectures by organizations and leading figures in the field of WASH and public health. The expo will also include exhibitions by student groups and non-profit organizations in Virginia that focus on sanitation and hygiene, conservation, water accessibility, and public health policy.
The event will also include presentations by John Oldfield, CEO at WASH Advocates as well as keynote speaker, Jamie Pittcock, Senior Lecturer at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at Australian National University (ANU). A schedule of the event is available here.
Be sure to check out our booth at the Expo and learn about how you can volunteer for our upcoming clean water projects in Sierra Leone.
What would we do without batteries? The ability to store power for later use has revolutionized how we live. As many of you know, it’s been a rough winter in many parts of the U.S., with many of us relying on batteries when the power goes out. And we rely on batteries to power a range of devices, from cell phones and computers to smoke detectors and automobiles – using a technology to supplement the electricity that we pretty much take for granted.
The World Bank estimates that 1.2 million people, 550 million in Africa alone, don’t have access to electricity. Often such communities rely on wood or kerosene to provide the light needed to go about daily activities between dusk and dawn or on a cloudy day. These fuels can take a toll on individuals’ respiratory health and the cost of these fuels can be disproportionate to a family’s income.
This past summer, a Deeper Missions travel team helped install a 1.2 kilowatt solar energy system for the Ebert Kakua School for the Deaf in Bo, Sierra Leone. The system now provides electricity when the sun shines and charges batteries to store harvested energy for evening study and community meetings. Having this new electrical source allows students and faculty to enjoy safe and environmentally friendly light, as well as power for fans, the video player, and the computer. Additionally, the surplus electricity from the system has enabled the school to start a cellphone charging service (more batteries!) for the local community, generating income which the school uses to buy spare solar parts and to pay the salary of one of its five teachers.
So, on National Battery Day, we acknowledge Alessandro Volta’s birthday, honor him for creating the modern battery, and celebrate the battery’s role in helping to bring light to communities in West Africa!
A friend of Deeper Missions, Joy Jones, has a heart for the plight of those in Sierra Leone who suffered at the hands of the rebels during the civil war. Joy came home to start a campaign to raise funds for a well at the amputee community near Bo, so that these survivors and their families can have ready access to water all year round. She shared the following letter with us, which she’d recently sent out as an appeal to her circle. I thought it would make a great blog entry; it reflects Joy’s compassion and enthusiasm for making a difference. Deeper Missions is honored to team with Joy and her supporters to make this important project a reality.
As the holiday season approaches, please consider making a donation so that a community of amputees in West Africa can have a well in their village. They currently walk THREE MILES(that is like walking from North Point Shopping Center to the fountain at Reston Town Center and back again) for water. So far I have raised just shy of $9,000–almost half way to my goal!!! A huge “thank you” to those who have already donated!
Here is the Razoo link to donate. Deeper Missions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization so your contribution is tax deductible. A donation in honor of someone makes an excellent Christmas or Holiday gift! If you make a donation as a gift for someone, please shoot me an email with their name and address and I will send the recipient the paragraph below and a note indicating that a donation has been made in honor of them.
Imagine you live in West Africa, in Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world. Your country has been devastated by a 10-year civil war. Now imagine being one of the victims of the brutal amputation tactics where rebels would maim civilians who resisted or to terrorize the population. The UN estimates 250,000 amputees survived Sierra Leone’s civil war. Today, the injured live in special support camps with basic facilities. In an economically challenged country, it is difficult for the able-bodied to find work, get an education, be trained. Now imagine being disabled by an amputation, making the most basic of chores an additional challenge, let alone finding work. What if you had no access to fresh water without having to walk a mile and a half to the closest well? Can you visualize a life where every sip of drinking water required a three mile walk, on one leg or carrying a bucket with only one hand? You’d be walking in the heat or humidity, rain or shine. Think how much of your life would be spent obtaining one of life’s most basic need and even the challenge of pulling up a bucket of water by a rope or at a pump with a handle needing to be grasped…. Now, how would it improve your life if folks came one day and built a well right in your village, a well with adaptations for amputees. A well that would empower the entire village. A small improvement can bring massive change to a community in desperate need. By donating you are making this dream a reality. We need to raise $20,000 to drill an all-seasons water well, with adaptive pumps so these villagers can simply draw their daily cooking and drinking water more easily.
Want to see some pictures of the villagers and read a short blog about them? Ted Warnock visited Mattru on the Rail when he was in Sierra Leone; click here to read it. Love, love his story.
If you prefer to mail a check the address is: Deeper Missions, 5765-F Burke Centre Parkway #209, Burke, VA 22015-2233. Please add “Amputee Well” to the memo line of your check. If you have questions, please let me know. If you can think of others who might be interested in helping, please pass this message on. Mostly, thank you for your support!
This month, we held our first annual West Africa Celebration on November 16, 2013 in the Fellowship Hall at Saint Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Burke, VA. Guests were treated to West African cuisine prepared by Jonnie Lawton of Movable Feast of Northern Virginia, a lively storytelling presentation by Kofi Denis and his drumming group, followed by a bring-the-house-down performance by the West African Drum and Dance Troupe, Kankouran. During the performance another guest, Ruby B. Johnson, Miss Sierra Leone USA 2013-2014, demonstrated her own dancing talent.
Our keynote speaker, Ms. Ronke Luke, President of the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment, delighted guests with a recounting of her memories of pre-war Freetown, Sierra Leone. She also encouraged guests to recognize the challenge that energy poverty poses to communities in the country and encouraged Deeper Missions to continue working to help with this essential need. Ms. Luke highlighted the far-reaching impact that deforestation has had on the country and reminded guests of the potential that clean energy infrastructure has for contributing to environmentally sustainable practices and reduced energy poverty.
Although not able to join us this year, family members of the Honorable Hannah Bundu Songowa, Member of the Sierra Leone Parliament, were able to attend. The Hon. Hannah is a champion for economic development in her country as well as recognizing the need for improved sanitation in rural communities.
The evening closed with remarks by Derek Reinhard, Executive Director, about the exciting upcoming activities planned for 2014, including the upcoming opening of the first international office for Deeper Missions in Freetown . Also, visit Miss Ruby Johnson’s blog where she shares her memories of the event.
Another first was the pleasure in giving out the first Deeper Missions Volunteer of the Year Award. Miss Michelle DeFreese received the recognition she deserved for her untiring and creative work she accomplished in 2013. Her efforts have helped Deeper Missions achieve greater visibility in the local and international philanthropic communities, and established essential contacts to help mature and expand our operations. Well done, Michelle!
We’d like to thank all of our guests for taking part in the celebration and the supporters of the event for bringing a taste of Sierra Leone to Northern Virginia! The celebration allowed all of us to remember our connection with the communities of Sierra Leone that we serve as well as celebrate the food, music, and culture of West Africa. For those of you who were unable to join us for the event, we hope that you’ll be able to take part in the festivities next year.
Pulling out a camera in front of a bunch of students has a universal reaction: “Me! Me! Take a picture of ME!” What a joy.
One of the greatest blessings on these Deeper Missions trips is the joy of making connections with the new friends and discovering the delight of getting to know one another, even when a common language isn’t shared–a way is found.
Today, while the deaf awareness workshop continued for Becky and Yi and many community members and the school’s staff, the rest of the team spent the day getting to know many of the students and learning more about day-to-day life at the Ebert Kakua School for the Deaf.
We discovered a close-knit, caring group of students and staff who, because of their disability and ensuing academic and economic challenges, have found community and mutual support at the deaf school.
Ranging in age from about 5 years old to young men and women in their twenty’s, it is like an extended family where the older watch after the younger. Not unique in the world, but so very touching in this part of the world among a group of children who, if not for the school, would be left to beg on the street in order to help contribute to the life of their families back home.
Daily we are seeing smiles of hope and opportunity among the deaf students.