A journey through the Bush to the remote villages of Sierra, Leone - Day 6 - January 8, 2020
“BO, Sierra Leone - It’s late afternoon here in BO and our amazing Seven Hills team is exhausted and tired, but incredibly happy for the experiences of today walking for many miles through the Bush ( jungle grasslands) from our Bandawa Health and Education Campus to three remote villages. Our day started off traveling to the four acre campus that SHGO and our partner, Zion Ministries, quite literally carved out of the Bush in 2011. We began with a simple health clinic, eventually enlarged the clinic, added two birthing suites, a dental clinic and a lab. Each year since, we have added new structures, funded by some very special donors back in the US. A church was built on campus to attend to the spiritual needs of thousands of rural bush villagers. A primary school for over 300 children was constructed along with housing for staff. Perhaps most critically, 22 of the current 26 villages we support we have been provided a clean water well and a village latrine.
Many of the photos which accompany today’s blog are of our team seeing the latest of three SHGO / Zion Ministries wells, which were made available to us through the generosity of the people Garland, Texas through the annual “ Running 4 Clean Water” event. Most recently, we have begun installing solar outdoor lights on our campus and in four of the remote villages. “Lights you might ask? - What’s so special about that?” Well, for a village of 250- 400 people who have never had a lamp or outside light at night in over 200 years, bringing one exterior light powered by the sun is a remarkable improvement to the quality of their life. We have four lights installed now and need a total of 26 at $750 each to have shipped from China and installed by our local solar equipment vendor, MimiSolar, in BO. And so if anyone reading this would like to make a tangible difference in the lives of hundreds of men, women, and children that have little - please consider having your club, church, business, or family ( like Ron & Laura Watkins of Garland , Texas recently did) fund just one light for a village.
The photos which follow speak for themselves ; our team were incredible driving, sitting on backs of motorcycles as far as they would travel, and eventually hiking in sweltering heat and humidity. In each village we visited, the pain of reaching them was immediately offset by the reception we received and the appreciations expressed by village chiefs and children alike for the gifts of water, sanitation, and now the hope that one light brings! In each of the three villages we found, we were greeted by singing and dancing. Men came in from the bush farming and village elders proudly showed us their village.
Tomorrow we continue our work here in BO and the villages surrounding our Bandawa campus. Later this week we will be gifting our Bandawa school with hundreds of pencils and school supplies raised by a young lady in Texas - Madeline Watkins. This is the third year Madeline has taken it upon herself to raise funds for the purchase of pencils for our schools in Sierra Leone. Her effort to help other children and young adults halfway around the world serves as a lesson for us all. It’s not the amount that a gift costs or how big or small it is if it comes from the heart and with selfless intentions, it is the greatest expression of love. Beyond a few cases of upset stomachs and some aches and pains, our SHGO team is doing well. I think Frances best summed our relations up best when she said that, “In such a short period we’ve come to really know and respect each other”. Reaching out to others - without the constant drone of “What’s in it for me” is the warmest of human feelings. More to follow tomorrow from Sierra Leone.