This past weekend I traveled “up country” one final time for the year, stopping in 6 rural villages over 3 days and preaching at Advent Lutheran Church in Bo on the first Sunday in the season of Advent. Considerable work has been done this past year on the main roadways in the country, and the journey to Bo is much easier than it was even 10 months ago. Still, the vast majority of the roads in Sierra Leone are unpaved and full of bumps and ruts. These are wonderfully described in Krio as “gallops.” My car has needed repairs and welding about every week for the past month thanks to all the gallops we’ve traversed, and the familiar sound of clanking metal meant repairs on this journey as well. Still, we traveled without incident — even through mud and puddles created by late and heavy rains on Monday morning.
I traveled in the company of Pastor Moses Kobba Momoh, the development desk officer for the ELCSL; Pr. Lavally, dean of the southeastern region; Tom Barnett (Jr.), national youth coordinator, and our driver Abu. At the heart of the trip was the task of meeting with community members and setting in motion the process for the digging of water wells. The ELCSL is partnering with Water to Thrive to provide 10 wells in 10 communities by early next year.
In each of the communities we visited, we met with church and community members, including village chiefs and other local leaders. The contractor for the well was introduced to the community, and expectations and responsibilities were discussed. Each community has formed a Project Management Committee to work with the contractor and to plan for ongoing use and maintainance of the well. Wells in this region can be anywhere from 5 meters to 20 meters deep, and are dug by hand. Timing for the digging of these wells is essential so that the water table is reached near the end of the dry season. Every community we visited shared their experience with wells that dry up by March or April every year. We hope to complete our well projects in time to serve the communities by the end of March 2010.
(Thursday Dec. 3: I started this blog posting earlier in the week, but the power has been out, the internet connection has been variable, and I haven’t been able to upload all the photos and comments I was hoping to share. I’ll try again next week.)