Friday, July 29, 2016
Checking on wells, Kenema District
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Jim dozed off early enough but I stayed up late working on my computer. This turned out to not be such a good idea because after I went to bed the Lebanese music began, well after midnight—there is building next store that often has parties and show soccer games so it gets really loud. That kept me awake for quite a long time. I probably slept for 3 hours, both of us waking up at 6. We both fell asleep for about 30-45 minutes till we got a call from Jonathan—they were going to be here to pick us up in 45 minutes! Scrambling and tired, we made it nearly on time.
We took Jonathan’s car, which had Jim and I, his wife Amarachi and one hygiene training guy. In the other car that Carley’s were driving, they had another hygiene trainer and the man from SALWACO, from the district. He doesn’t get paid, so we’ll give him a little something. I realized that we knew him—he was with us several years ago before we put any of these wells in. We were headed to the 40 Kenema District wells we did in 2012. These are ones that went very well until Ebola decimated the populations. In one community, 26 people died. Others moved away out of fear of the disease and water committees broke up and many stopped collecting money for the water. So we have been in the process of retraining 2/3-3/4 of them, reforming well committees, fixing what was broken that was our fault, having them pay for the small repairs that are needed that were just because the well broke down, etc.
A woman taking part in the hygiene training program. Using pictures, this listener is supposed to describe what is right or wrong with the picture she is holding, and then put it under the right heading, whether it is good or bad. The hygiene trainers don’t ever tell them what to do or how to think, but let them come up with their own conclusions.
We drove to the furthest one, which took quite a while to get to. The Districts around here are huge. At this water point we watched as the two hygiene trainers taught one of the lessons to the people. We don’t understand the language, but we know what is being said (mostly) because we understand the hygiene training program. We spent most of the time here of course, and then went on to see other communities that were being or had been retrained, of course checking out their wells. Most were doing okay. Tomorrow we go to the ones that are broken—there are just a few of those.
This is the well at the site where they were demonstrating their hygiene training to us. Jim had requested that we see one of these training sessions. The typical problem was that the gates fell off because they used adobe brick instead of what we’d requested (the community was supposed to make the bricks). Many of them were working on putting the gates back on. But, the well was working, and that is the most important thing.
The roads in Kenema city have deteriorated, the ones that are paved and the ones that are dirt. The roads in the district were actually less bumpy than the ones in town even though we drove through several streams and some very muddy roads along the way. Apparently, the reason that the roads in town are so bad is because the Mayor of Kenema is in the opposing political party as the President. The Cobinah’s say that the Mayor is not very humble and is too antagonistic to the President. They claim that if he would not be so prideful that they probably would get better help with their roads, but he is openly against the President so they have gotten really bad
I noticed a great many motorbikes in Kenema, more than there used to be. Cobinah’s say that they come from Freetown for two reasons—there are less bikes here and the police hassle them a bit too much there and not as much here.
The weather was okay today, mostly cloudy and sometimes raining, even though it was still warm and muggy. The weather is just easier to take during the rainy season.
If you look closely you’ll see 5 women with babies on their backs; I have never seen so many new babies and pregnant women at one time as we did today, and some of them appeared to be VERY young. It almost seemed as though they needed to make up for all those deaths from Ebola. One woman who appeared to be about 20 was sitting there nursing her baby. She indicated to me that I ought to take this child and raise it because she was not married. I assured her that Sierra Leone would not let me take her baby out of the country, not to mention our ages! This is one of the reasons Amarachi & Jonathan want to start an NGO training program for girls and women. Too many of these girls are not married.
On the way back we checked out all the wells along the way or off of that road, and ended up seeing I think 7 well sites. We got home in time to order a dinner and eat an hour later because that is how long it takes, at least. Cobinah’s ate with us. We are always surprised at what is in our food. Some of us ordered chicken hamburgers. What we got tasted like a flat hot dog in a bun. It wasn’t all that great and it was a surprise since the night before they actually got chicken in their hamburger buns, but we were all so hungry that we didn’t care. The others had chicken and rice, and that was very good.
While we waited and ate it began to rain harder, pouring away, me wondering how we could dam up all that water!
Sister Carley was quite fun to watch. She spent a good deal of time singing with the children, and of course they follow you around any time you are taking their pictures, hoping to get in one of them, but the cutest thing I saw was when she began dancing with one of the women and of course it turned into a happy riot. I do those things also, but when we are with a couple on the ground, one that is here on a mission, I back off of that—this is their time to enjoy these people, and for the people to enjoy being with them. We are excited about this couple—they are really doing great things.
Tomorrow will be a repeat, except with E/S Carley. They will meet with the police again about their water project request, doing a little shopping (Sister Carley loves to sew and wants to buy from the local shops), and then returning to Freetown.
Another day tomorrow of coming home feeling like a whipped doggie…
Love, from Kenema