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|

Our First Shipping Container – Guest Post

Hello friends of Deeper Missions. I’m Ross Meglathery and I serve as the president of the Deeper Missions board of directors. It’s been a while since our last post and we’ve been busy!  As we begin the summer and mid-way through the year, I wanted to update you on an exciting accomplishment.

Eloo Container Departing VirginiaAs you know we are focused on clean energy, safe water and sanitation for schools in Africa. Additionally, as we grow, we are always exploring ways to more quickly and efficiently provide these services while minimizing costs.  I am happy to announce that thanks to your generous support and with the help of the Manassas, Virginia-based, SES Companies, we have established our first Eloo storage facility in Sierra Leone.   In case you do not remember or are unaware, Eloos are septic systems that do not use water, and use the sun’s heat to kill pathogens and dehydrate the human waste, rendering it safe in a matter of weeks.  Not only is the waste harmless, it can be re-purposed safely as fertilizer.

Our “facility” is a 20-foot shipping container that we purchased to ship 16 Eloos from the United States.  The container is now in a walled storage compound near the “Mile 91” trading town in central Sierra Leone.  It was quite a learning experience getting the Eloos shipped, through the port of Freetown and then over road to its finally destination. Fortunately, late last year we completed our application for International NGO-status with the government of Sierra Leone which now affords us some import benefits along with having some ministerial contacts who were helpful in navigating us through the port bureaucracy.Motema School Eloos

Our storage facility is just one part of our recent efforts to establish a more permanent presence in Sierra Leone. We look forward to expanding our presence and increasing the number of projects.  Again, and as always, thank you for your support in making this possible!

By |July 5th, 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|

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: , , , , |

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!

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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’.”

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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

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|

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|