When Ebola hit Sierra Leone in 2014, nearly 5,000 people died of the highly contagious, nightmarish disease. Access to water was key in keeping hygiene and infection control at a level that could ward off the contagion.
When Ebola hit Nengbema village in 2015, the entire community was quarantined. Water Aid and VSO worked together to support the building and maintenance of water pomps in Bo and the Western Area. Local Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Committees were established to oversee the maintenance of the wells. Mechanic Foday Lansana talks about his work on the wells.
“My father was born in this village. It’s my paternal land and I love it here.
I am both a member of the WASH committee and the mechanic for the pump.
What I love most about our community is the zeal in which we are embracing development.
When I heard about this VSO project, I volunteered to be the mechanic because water is life. It means a healthy living.
When there was an outbreak of Ebola here, we were all frightened. There was some conflict. No one felt at peace. At first people didn’t believe that it was a sickness or a disease caused by a virus. Our village was quarantined.
Nobody was allowed to come in or out of our community. It destroyed our agricultural activities and our livelihoods because the quarantine made life come to a standstill. Our freedom of movement was restricted. There were men from the military around. If you flouted the rules you were punished. There were two checkpoints, one from the entrance and the other at the far end of the community. The town crier passed a message telling us to stay indoors. There was a roll call at each house to check who was in. But we were told to clean and wash our hands regularly.
As the mechanic, I received training to maintain the two wells that we have in this community. Now we can say that we have a good water supply.
I have learnt everything about the pump, especially around repairs and maintenance. I don’t have all the equipment I need but it means I can provide for my family and community by providing safe and clean water. We also use this water for laundry, clotheslines, compost heaps, cooking and cleaning too. I can use my new skills with other communities who might have problems with their water taps or supply, for example I have been fixing leaks for them.
I remember when I saw the first splash of water. I was happy because we had been deprived of good, clean drinking water. We were jubilant.