Clean and accessible bathroom facilities are something that most of us take for granted and expect as an everyday convenience; it is almost impossible for us to imagine any other kind of situation. But for 2.5 billion people – 40% of the world’s population – the options are unsafe toilets or practicing open defecation.

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Conventional sanitation – a flush toilet connected to a centralized sewer system – is possible for only a small fraction of people in the world. In developing countries, with water already a scarce commodity, it is impossible to build a centralized sewer system to begin with. This is why Deeper Missions seeks to use the latest in waterless, culturally correct latrine designs, such as the “Eloo”, made in Africa, for Africa.

One of the central components of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); poor sanitation and hygiene hinders meeting MDGs related to improving child health and mortality. WASH improvements can be as straightforward as the design and availability of improved latrines that do not contaminate ground water and prevent the breeding of germ-carrying insects. In Sierra Leone, only 31% of the entire nation have access to improved sanitation, the majority are people living in urban areas.

Every year, food and water tainted with fecal matter cause 2.5 billion cases of diarrhea among children under five, resulting in 1.5 million child deaths. Chronic illness hinders child development by impeding the uptake of essential nutrients that are critical to the health of children’s minds, bodies and immune systems.

Deeper Missions is committed to bringing health-building solutions to communities, schools and hospitals, such as the Eloos for the Ebert-Kakua School for the Deaf, and for Mercy Hospital, shown above, and built in part with a grant from The Child Health Foundation.

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.

 

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!

 

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!

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!