"THERE'S A PERSON IN THE WELL!" Seven heads swooped down to the well opening. We had just hiked down Hill Station to a natural fetching point and determined that this community is desperate for water and has a nice site to develop a spring box with a clothes washing area. We can do a nice project with them. It will be a large and difficult project but our contractor is excited about it. We hiked back up to the top of the mountain and someone mentioned there was a functioning well not far from where we parked the truck. We wanted to see it. We had many of the community people with their community leaders with us plus our site manager, Brother Thomas and our contractor, Samuel Samba. We were standing around this fetching hole that was just a hole in a concrete slab that had a lid that opened up. People drop a jerry can tied to a rope through the hole and lower it to the water and pull it back up. The lid was open and two men were peering in to see how deep the water was and one yelled "There's a person in the well!" Immediately 5 more heads had their faces in the well opening. 7 butts up in the air. My response was "alive or dead?" One of the 7 said "alive". The opening to the hole was barely an 18" square. They peered into the hole for a while when one of the 7 reached into the well and pulled out a Jerry can that barely fit through the hole and a moment later a man popped out of the well. The well had not been used in many days because the rope on the Jerry can broke and the Jerry can was in the well and they did not have a replacement Jerry can. So this man decided to get it. He went into the well with no one knowing where he was and he did not have a rope to tie himself onto something to get himself out. I remember when I was a kid and my brothers and sisters and I would stand in a doorway and put our feet and hands on either side of the door jam and shimmy up to the top of the door. This is what this man did, carrying a Jerry can to get out of the well. He had no idea the crowd that was gathered around the well. We applauded when he emerged. He had to squeeze to get out of that hole. The community asked if we could put a Milla Tank here. We discussed options and we plan to do something there. Don gave the community an assignment of collecting enough money to fill a 10,000 liter Milla tank with water before we start the project. They said they would do that and we told them we would be back in two weeks to check on them. When they have the money collected and in the bank, we will do a project.
We had a very frustrating day. The banking system here in Sierra Leone is broken. We
have a contractor whom Accra paid on Oct 24th and the money still has not shown up
in his account. The banks hold American money they receive and speculate with it to
get the best price. In the meantime, people who live hand-to-mouth are suffering with
hunger and thirst because the bank is holding their money. This happened once before
and we went to the bank and as Don says "I had to stand on someone's desk to get
them to put the money in the contractor's account". We are going to have to do the
same thing again. Plus, another NGO we hired to put in a hand-dug borehole has not
been paid by Accra. We have been barking at them for more than 2 months only to be
told today they need more information plus the NGO requested to be paid in US
dollars. When they made that request over 2 months ago, Don called Accra and they
said "yes, we can do that". Today they informed us they cannot do that. Don called the
head accountant in Accra and told him about our plight and sent him all the necessary
forms via e-mail. We gave him a few minutes to absorb all the information and called
him back. He got permission to have the contractor set an exchange rate from USD to
Leones and then Accra is going to put the money into our working fund account and I
am to write the NGO a check.
I started the Kenema School Districts table and benches project today.