Thursday, August 11, 2016

Checking on old projects in Liberia

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nyquil comes in pill form and it knocked me out for the night; Jim had to wake me up at 8 AM so I could get ready to go.  I felt a bit better after having such a good sleep.   E/S Wollenzien picked us up at 9 AM and then we drove to pick up Morris.  He is their site monitor extraordinaire.  I think this means that he does a bit more than just monitoring.  He teaches the community development and hygiene training; he constantly goes back to check on the work that has been done to make sure that well committees are still functioning and to see if there are any problems.  He is also always on the phone checking with people.  LDSC has the reputation that ‘we WILL check on your project’; they know this, and it helps keep them working.

Everything we saw today was functioning, but maybe that was by design; we know that not everything will be.  We saw a variety of projects: hand pumps, latrines, and water towers.   There are several more paved roads in this area, but that didn’t keep us from leaving the tarmac for some jarring rides.  It didn’t rain much, but we still drove through deep, wide holes filled with water, but the worst were the small, muddy potholes that jerked us around as we drove, making us wish we were either walking or on the back of a motorbike.  Morris sat with Sister W. & me in the back—luckily Morris and Sister Wollenzien are small people. In the large marketplace areas the paths were narrow, muddy and strewn with trash. 

All the wells that we saw today were working; they check on them frequently; they are collecting money; they have a strong well caretaker; each had painted on them the donor (LDSC), the contractor, and the community that was to maintain it. (below)

This is a public latrine in the marketplace; they are collecting money and therefore making some extra.  They have already had it pumped out once and are planning on making the septic tank area larger.  

This is one of 3 water points we saw.  The tanks are on a high tower and they get city water; it is then gravity fed to the taps below.  They sell it because the caretaker pays a fee to the city for his or her water bill.  This one was very clean and the concrete was good.  They found a way to lock the taps—it needs a special key to get the water, which effectively keeps people from using it without paying.  The tank is on a tower above left in the picture, not shown.

We stopped by a small school where E/S Wollenzien are building a latrine.  They required that the young man who runs the school build them a bridge over the large ditch so that they could get into the school to work; he built a very nice bridge, wide enough for a car to drive over.  He was also required to clean up his area.

 8-month-old little girl, watching as her mom pumps the water.

We stopped by another school where LDSC had built them a latrine.  LDSC had also given them desks a while back.  When asked to see the desks, they learned that they had all been broken.  So Elder Wollenzien is requiring his carpenter to make furniture with screws instead of nails.  He bought a drill that he lets the carpenter use and buys Philips screws, which are hard to find, for him to use in his work.  If they build this way, their desks will last a whole lot longer.  He told his carpenter to start saving money to buy his own drill so that his product will last.  They use just nails for the hinges on the latrine doors, and that is why they are usually hanging on one hinge shortly thereafter—all they need is better tools and equipment and things would last a whole lot longer.  Elder Wollenzien is showing them how to make a proper mix on the concrete also.  
These projects were completed in either 2013 or 2015.  The latter project was completed even during Ebola with no oversight by LDSC couples.  They have done a pretty good job of it.  The key is having a good team on the ground and then everything works better. 

By the end of the day I felt quite a bit better; Jim, on the other hand, got sick again and felt terrible…

Love, from Liberia

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