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  • Writer's picturePeter Demko

SHGO 2019 Kenya and Sierra Leone

Blog entry for January 5, 2018

See more photos here

An amazing day today with our SHGO team walking for hours into the bush (jungle) beyond our Bandawa campus to visit 6 villages; Bandatown, Gborbu, Tobu, Boiama, Falla and Komende. We walked over jungle trails that villagers have worn into deep ruts over decades of time, as we made our way through the 96 degree heat to each village to see the wells that we have built in conjunction with our partner, Zion Ministries. Over the past 4 years we’ve enabled 18 villages to install a clean water well and a village toilet. In each village, the men have hand dug 8 foot diameter holes, each 60 to 90 feet deep, using only a bucket and a rope pulley. Its back breaking work, but the joy and pride they have in knowing they will have access to a clean water source for the first time in many generations is beyond description.

Knowing that clean water and sanitation is being made possible through Seven Hills, our partners in Sierra Leone and funding partners in Garland, Texas, has resulted in the joyful welcome by the children and mothers alike whenever we emerge from the bush and walk into a village. The children in particular sang and played soccer with Isaac, surrounded Peter to look at the photos he took of them, and the women gather around Carmen to ask countless questions about life in America. For the past 9 years traveling to poor countries on behalf of our staff at Seven Hills Foundation and my Clark University students, it never ceases to humble me and give me pause in realizing how little these people have in terms of possessions and yet how filled with genuine joy each is. All you would have to do is look at the laughing children in each village today. For many, it was the first time that they had ever seen a white face, and yet, they are so open and welcoming. As we do each evening at the end of a long day, I ask each member of our SHGO team to share their one “pearl” of the day; what 1 image, sound, thought, or experience most resonated with them. I had 2 pearls for today; one I shared with the team here with me and the other pearl I will share with our blog readers. My spoken pearl for today, January 5, was how incredibly proud I was of Isaac, Carmen, and Peter for their total embracing of the hundreds of men, women and children they met today. Though their lives are so different culturally from the villagers, they each reached beyond their initial anxieties and demonstrated how people can love and value each other, regardless of race, religion, nationality, or other differences. Thank you Carmen, Isaac and Peter for confirming my belief that people are inherently good. My second unspoken ‘pearl’ is how much I value and appreciate the time and support of my wife, Dr. Kathee Jordan, for encouraging me in this work I’ve committed myself to, even though it means I spend precious time away from her in distant parts of our world. Few men are as fortunate as I am in having a spouse who understands the impact SHGO is making on the lives of over 15,000 of the world’s poor. Soon, I will be back to my work at Seven Hills Foundation in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but for the next 7 days, our efforts will be here in Sierra Leone and then Kenya, representing our many Seven Hills staff whose families are from those countries.

We are all absolutely exhausted tonight after trekking for miles through the bush, but none of us would change anything we experienced today. Tomorrow we trek out to our Bandawa medical clinic/ birthing center and primary school campus where we will meet with hundreds of villages walking in from throughout our 26 village catchment area. Good night to you all. More tomorrow with brilliant photos to share taken by Peter.

Dr. David A. Jordan

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