It's Sunday in Bo, Sierra Leone, and we attended services headed by Pastor Michael and Cynthia Kanu. Service in this particular Assembly of God congregation is filled with music, dance, and devotional readings and other expressions of this particular faith. This can be a bit unsettling to American visitors who might be more accustomed to more somber religious traditions, but our SHGO team jumped right into the celebratory atmosphere. Later we talked about viewing a different culture from a number if vantage points - including the way in which religious beliefs are expressed. Sierra Leoneans are by nature some of the most generous and joy-filled people I’ve met in my travels throughout the world - regardless of the poverty in which most of the of 7 million people in this country find themselves in. Even in the most remote villages I’ve been to on this trip - and the many previous trips over the years - I’m always greeted with children laughing and warm expressions of hospitality. And so, many religious gatherings are a communal way of expressing that notion of brotherliness. This afternoon we traveled back out to our Bandawa campus to participate in a 3-hour “Celebration of Thanksgiving“ to Seven Hills Global Outreach and the partnership we’ve forged between our own Sierra Leone employees at Seven Hills Foundation and the educational and medical supports we have helped shape here in the Bo region of the country. Within the 26 village catchment areas we serve, our efforts have affected over 15,000 people. The expression of thanks given to our team today was their way of saying thank you to all of Seven Hills for creating clean water wells, schools, and a medical center. It's impossible to describe the genuine affection expressed to us by so many this afternoon. Several in the audience proudly wore their old SHGO T-shirts given to them years ago.
Though we took a few moments to celebrate today, we are aware that there are still villages without clean water or a communal toilet. It is in those 8 remaining villages where we have yet to provide water and sanitation, that we are witness to high child mortality rates in children under 5. And so, the deadly serious business of raising small amounts of funds in the U.S. to construct a safe drinking well and latrine in 8 more villages lies in front if us with the stark realization that the longer any village goes without clean water, children will die needlessly.
Isaac, Carmen and Peter continue to amaze me with their immersion into the culture of this country and the lives of some of the poorest people on our planet. Tomorrow starts a new school term for the 550 children who attend the two schools made possible through SHGO and so our morning will be spent meeting with students and their teachers. I wish many of our Seven Hills staff could travel with me on just one of our SHGO humanitarian trips in order to understand the impact our organization is having on the lives of thousands; with funds derived from a handful of donors committed to supporting Seven Hills Global Outreach.
On Tuesday we head to East Africa and our 3 partner organizations in Kenya. Follow this blog and view the photographs to learn more about what Seven Hills is doing around the world in support of our diverse group of employees. More tomorrow.
Dr. David A. Jordan