Two years ago, HCW Partner Church Ebenezer UMC committed to partner with Fengehun village to provide desperately needed clean water and sanitation solutions to the community. Initially delayed by country-wide COVID restrictions, the projects are now well under way in the capable hands of Elmer and Joann Reifel, missioners with Christians in Action Missions International who are based in Bo, Sierra Leone.
A major part of the Reifels’ work in Sierra Leone is providing clean water to communities in need via hand-drilled boreholes. Elmer is also an ordained minister who serves as CinA’s Africa Area Director. The Reifels use every opportunity to share the Gospel whenever possible.
The Reifels’ work with Helping Children Worldwide began in 2018 when former HCW Field Director Kim Nabieu engaged them to drill wells in two small villages, funded by contributions made to HCW on behalf of a retiring Methodist minister.
With the launch of the Village Partnership initiative, HCW asked the Reifels to submit a bid for wells and latrines that were needed in Fengehun, a village served by Mercy Hospital’s mobile outreach team.
During a 2019 mission trip to Sierra Leone, Ebenezer UMC Pastor Rob Lough and Missions Director Tina DeBoeser met with Fengehun leadership and committed to a partnership between their church and the village. The projects were supposed to be completed in 2020, but COVID closures delayed the start until February of this year.
The Reifels have completed the new fresh water well and have finished refurbishing the two older wells. They also began work on a new three-stall latrine. After the Fengehun projects are complete, they will begin similar projects in Lemblema, the site of another Village Partnership project.
"We are pleased to let you know that the new well, the first on our list of to-do's in Fengehun, is complete and fully operational," Joann Reifel reported. "The pump base was installed in the new concrete base last week and given about four days to cure before installing the rest of the pump and shocking the water to purify it for drinking. A yield test allows us to gauge whether or not there is enough water coming into the hole to use a pump, and we do that before we commit to installing a pump. The yield of this well is a terrific 10.8 gallons per minute, so it should be able to keep up to the demand. "
"The method we use for the drilling of the borehole is a manual drilling process using a variety of augers, cutters, rock breakers and tips depending on local geology," Joann explained. “The new pump parts were installed in the original standpipe and the water source is protected now from the parts of the well that were collapsing in on it and causing the mud to build up over the years." The new pipes also go further down than the old ones, allowing the villagers to pump water even during the dry season.
The new and renovated wells should supply Fengehun village with clean, fresh water for many years to come. When the new latrines are completed, the village will be a healthier and more hospitable place for the residents.
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