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SIERRA LEONE: Salesian Missionaries Install New Well in Village Hard Hit by Ebola

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries are assisting the small village of Kumbrabai, 100 kilometers from the capital city of Freetown in Sierra Leone, which has been severely impacted by the Ebola virus. The village once had 270 residents but 82 villagers succumbed to Ebola and 65 more who were infected fled the village. Entire families were lost and some are left with only one member. Those who remained in the village were shunned by their own people who were afraid to enter homes where someone had died. The community was stigmatized and isolated by other villages out of fear.

Real concerns remain about how the village with so few members will survive. When the village had 270 residents, it was already a challenge to sustain the community working together under challenging weather conditions, frequent water shortages and other threats to growing crops and raising animals. Recently, there has been growing concern about how to work the fields to gather enough to eat with so few people as well as concern about prevention methods to stop another Ebola outbreak.

Having first visited Kumbrabai during the Ebola outbreak to distribute food, water and other aid, Salesian missionaries are now bringing hope to the village by starting projects to improve residents’ health, hygiene and sanitation practices and enhance agricultural capacity for the long-term sustainability of the community.

“Salesian missionaries in the region developed a fondness for the people of Kumbrabai as they helped them cope with the effects of the Ebola epidemic,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco “From the start, they resolved to support concrete, sustainable projects that could help villagers become more self-sufficient and hopeful for the future. The first project, a newly installed water well, is just one small step toward that overall vision.”

Kumbrabai is only accessible via poorly constructed country roads and is surrounded by dense vegetation that during the rainy season turns into soggy marshland. Villagers used a small swamp of dirty water for drinking, washing, watering their animals and even as a toilet. The new water well will provide safe drinking water and water for agriculture as well as opportunities for people to learn healthy habits like hand washing, that can help protect against many diseases. Before the well, nearly two-thirds of Kumbrabai’s crops were lost to weather conditions, including drought, annually.

The new water well is the result of a renewed focus on clean water initiatives by Salesian Missions. According to Water.org, more than 750 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. The lack of clean water causes more than 3.4 million deaths each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related causes.

In response to this crisis, Salesian Missions has made building wells and supplying fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.

Looking ahead, missionaries plan to further expand agricultural expertise among the villagers of Kumbrabai by teaching new farming techniques and animal management practices and distributing seeds. And, they intend to create a local school where children can, for the very first time, begin their primary education.



Salesian Missions- In Sierra Leone, a Village is Reborn