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.

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.

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. ]

Asking, “So where’s the solar stuff?”

The water security issues are self-evident–a water well which, late in the dry season, may produce limited water for the cooking and cleaning.

I remember waking up the first morning in Bo, Sierra Leone, and thought, “Okay, we’re about 8 degrees north of the equator, this would be a great place to run solar electricity stuff, and solar hot water making…”  It took me some time to find such a thing– a nearby clinic had a small solar photovoltaic (the fancy name for solar electric) system which also had a small wind generator as well.

Doing some research, I’ve learned that setting up solar generation is not as easy as finding a place where the tree shadows don’t fall on much and slapping up some panels (then again, it’s also not rocket science).  The two main challenges for implementing solar/wind electric is calculating the design of the system (some kooky math and educated estimates/measurements of usage patterns) and the initial cash outlay.

Bo, Sierra Leone has a decent solar day (the average number of full hours of sun each day of the year); for Bo, it’s a 4-5 hours, a bit better than Dallas, TX–surprisingly, Freetown isn’t as good (around 3.5 hours), even though it’s only about 100 miles away; Freetown’s challenge is that it’s on the shore at an inlet and it’s surrounded by low mountains.

Anyway, the simplicity of the medical clinic system was inspiring–how can we do that more and in more places?!?  That’s when the idea hatched for something like Deeper Missions.