Devastating flooding and mudslides have hit Sierra Leone washing away entire communities on the outskirts of Freetown.
Bread and Water for Africa® is responding to this emergency. Days of torrential rain have created terrifying mudslides in northern Sierra Leone, where our partner Faith Healing Development Corporation works to provide schooling, health care, and food to the thousands of poor. Thousands are feared dead and missing, and Rev. Mambu, FHDO Executive Director, reports that the situation is dire, with children in his care injured, and tragically, dead.
Massive flooding has left tens of thousands without shelter. Another deadly outbreak of cholera is a near certainty. We are air freighting a container of emergency medical supplies tomorrow that can help meet the needs of 20,000 individuals. Next week, we will also need to ship tons of disaster relief supplies, supplies, including medical, hygiene, and other relief materials. We must send as large a supply as we can. And with our donors, we will send funds to buy bottled water, medical supplies, water purification tablets, and oral rehydration kits. We are responding, with the caring and urgent support of our donors and partners.
Access to clean, safe and unpolluted water is a valuable commodity in many places in sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that 90 percent of all serious illnesses in Africa can be linked to contaminated water and poor sanitation.
For decades, Bread and Water for Africa® has made providing access to clean water a key priority by digging wells, ensuring that thousands in the surrounding community no longer have to walk miles fetching water, and literally risking their lives drinking it.
Such was the case in the community of Rutile in Sierra Leone where years ago, working our local partner there, Faith Healing Development Organization, we were able to fund the construction of a well on the grounds of an orphanage providing safe water for all.
But that was before the mining operation “whose activities have resulted in the pollution of all source of drinking water” arrived, we were told by FHDO Executive Director Rev. Francis Mambu.
Sierra Leone is one of the leading producers of bauxite, an aluminum ore and the world’s main source of aluminum, and nearby mining operations have caused the water to be unusable.
However, there is hope. It is possible that with a processing plant, the contaminated water in the well can be filtered and packaged into what are known in the country as plastic “sachets” which can contain between 8 and 12 ounces of water.
“These sachets are commonly bought and sold in all of the markets and streets throughout the country,” said Rev. Mambu who is proposing, with the support of Bread and Water for Africa®, to construct such a plant to not only restore access to safe, unpolluted drinking water for the community, but also provide a means of support to the orphanage where the well is located.
“From all indications, this project will be a lucrative one that will greatly sustain itself due to the demands of clean water in our mining communities, especially now that the dry season is about to begin,” Rev. Mambu told us.
The estimated cost for the processing plant is $16,000, and we at Bread and Water for Africa® are committed to supporting the project in the knowledge that not only will the processing plant restore safe water to those in the village of Rutile, it will also provide much-needed income to the orphanage so that orphaned children in the community will have a home to go to for years to come when there is nowhere else for them to turn.
Every year on the fourth Thursday of November millions of Americans across the United States gather with their families and friends for a huge turkey dinner with all the trimmings and giving thanks for all the blessings they have received in life.
In sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of a few Americans residing there, it will be just another day.
But despite the hardships and challenges facing citizens of countries where Bread and Water for Africa® works in partnership with grassroots organizations including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and elsewhere, there are tens of thousands who have plenty of reason to be thankful.
In 2016 alone:
In Cameroon, more than 250 children benefited from the completion of a school, and another 142 orphaned and destitute primary and secondary school students benefited from school fee support.
In Ethiopia, 86,000 citizens are thankful for the medical services they received through five hospitals and a clinic supported by Bread and Water for Africa®, while another 12,400 students benefited from a shipment by Bread and Water for Africa® of 22,000 books which was distributed to 20 secondary school libraries.
In Kenya, 74 orphaned an abandoned children are thankful to have found a loving home at the Lewa Children’s Home, while another 400 Kenya students from nursery to grade eight benefited from an education provided to them at the KipKeino school, constructed nearly 20 years ago by Bread and Water for Africa®.
In Sierra Leone, more than 76,000 residents are grateful for the healthcare services received through hospitals and clinics supported by Bread and Water for Africa®, 3,000 students and local residents benefited from having access to clean, safe water by a well dug by Bread and Water for Africa® on the school grounds, and another 1,006 students are thankful for the education they received at four nurseries, four primary schools and three secondary schools.
In Zambia, 93 orphaned children are thankful to have a loving home which provides for all their basic needs and another 146 children living in foster care are grateful for the food support, assistance with school fees and basic health care support they receive.
In Zimbabwe, 207 children are thankful for an orphan feeding program supported by Bread and Water for Africa®, while 35 secondary school students are grateful for the opportunity to continue their education through our school fee support program.
But the credit doesn’t belong to us – it goes to you – supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who without which none of this would be possible.
With your help this summer, Bread and Water for Africa® hopes to raise enough funds to construct a plant in Sierra Leone to process cassava into gari.
So exactly what is cassava?
While most Americans may not have heard of cassava, an edible starchy tuberous root, it is more commonly called “yuca” in Spanish and in the United States.
Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in tropical countries after rice and maize, and is a major food staple in the developing world, providing a basic diet for more than a half a billion people, including millions in Sierra Leone.
In addition, it is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing in marginal soils. It was introduced to Africa by Portuguese traders from Brazil in the 16th century and is now an important staple food, replacing native African crops, and is sometimes described as “the bread of the tropics.”
And what is gari?
Gari is cassava root, dried and ground into flour and, according to our partner in Sierra Leone, Rev. Francis Mambu, executive director of Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), is a popular West African food constituting a daily meal to some 150 million people worldwide.
Rev. Mambu tells us gari is not only rich in starch, but also very high in proteins and some essential vitamins and is very high in fiber which makes it very filling while preventing bowel disease.
One could say it’s the “superfood” of Sierra Leone.
But why would FHDO want to operate a cassava processing plant?
The answer is simple, to provide income to women farmers – many who have taken orphans whose parents died in the tragic Ebola outbreak into their homes – as well as generating income for FHDO itself to operate its clinics and schools.
Already, FHDO has planted more than 10 acres of cassava to be distributed to women in the Yainkassa Village in the Bombali District who will plant them on their own land and tend to them until they mature and are ready to be harvested in six months. After the initial harvest, the women farmers will be able to continue harvesting the cassava at three-month intervals.
Once the processing plant is in operation, FHDO will be able to purchase all the cassava the women can grow, guaranteeing them a reliable place to sell what they produce at fair prices.
But then what will FHDO do with all the gari it produces?
And here’s the beauty of this whole plan – FHDO will sell the gari back to the farmers who grew it at wholesale prices so they can go out and sell in their local community markets, in effect selling the same product twice and making two profits.
Why is this processing plant so necessary?
“The people of Sierra Leone were seriously affected by the Ebola virus disease outbreak,” says Rev. Mambu. “Especially the women and children.”
Rev. Mambu told us that women from 11 villages – totaling about 500 farmers – have been targeted to participate in the project.
That amounts to 500 households with thousands of children, many of whom are Ebola orphans who would have nowhere to go except for the caring and compassionate women who have taken them in and given them a loving home.
These women need a steady income to provide for their own children, as well as the ones they have taken in. They need to be able to put food on the table for them – every day – pay their school fees and purchase school uniforms, to be able to pay the medical bills when they get sick.
And the cassava process plant will enable them to do just that.
Rev. Francis Mambu puts it this way: “Access to safe drinking water is a challenge. Presently, the community does not have a running tap.
“The school children travel far distances to fetch water which is really affecting their education.”
Not to mention putting their health and their very lives at risk by being forced to drink water from unsafe sources such as streams, ponds – even puddles in the middle of a muddy unpaved road – risking cholera, dysentery, Typhoid fever and parasites by sipping just even a mouthful.
But what other choice do these girls and their families have?
In 2015, Bread and Water for Africa® provided funding to Rev. Mambu’s organization, Faith Healing Development Organization, to dig a well at a school at the community known as Waterloo in Sierra Leone.
And right now, today, Bread and Water for Africa® is in the process of digging a well in the community of Hill Station which is scheduled to be completed by the end of March.
Imagine, children, primarily little girls who spend their days walking miles back and forth carrying as much water they can put on the their heads will instead be able to go to school.
And, they and their families won’t have to risk serious illness, and even death, drinking water from questionable sources.
Last fall, Bread and Water for Africa® was successful in applying for a $10,000 grant from the Neilom Foundation at the University of Maryland College Park to dig a well at Hill Station. A New Well for Hill Station, Sierra Leone.
Not only will the well serve the Imatt Primary School where it is to be located, allowing children to remain in school instead of fetching water and not taking a life-or-death chance every time they take a drink of water, but thousands of families will also be assured of clean, safe, uncontaminated water for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing – all from just one single well.