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Water brings pride and resilience to Sierra Leone community

Mother and child wash at a pump in Sierra Leone | VSO VSO/Peter Caton

Thanks to strict adherence to hygiene, the people of Charlotte in western Sierra Leone protected themselves from the ravages of Ebola

When Ebola hit Sierra Leone in 2014, nearly 5,000 people died of the highly contagious disease. During the crisis, the mountain village of Charlotte in western Sierra Leone stayed free from infection thanks to their vigilance with regards to hygiene. A Water Aid and VSO project fixed a local well that helped to spare the community from the virus.

28-year-old Akibola Taylor helps maintain the well. He explains how it has helped his community.

Community pride

"Ebola affected our country because people didn’t listen to what the health persons told them. That is why it spread over the country, but we feel proud of our community.

"During the time of Ebola we had no cases in Charlotte because we kept the environment clean and we told to people not to touch each other, and to always wash with soap and water."

Man and child work a water pump in Sierra Leone VSO/Peter Caton

Akibola (right) next to the pump he helps maintain since being trained by VSO and WaterAid

"We also had checkpoints. We monitored people that came inside the village and encouraged them to wash their hands with soap. We said to people: “You’ve got to abide by our rules and regulations.”

Water of life

"Throughout the Ebola period we used water from our well to serve the school and health unit. Children use it to drink and wash their hands of diseases.

"If the well was not here, people would walk for a very long distance to go and fetch water. It was constructed in 2004, but it broke down and VSO came [in 2015] to construct it again. They called meetings and trained us on how to take care of the well."

Akibola explains how the community of Charlotte were vigilant againt Ebola

Protector of health

"I work at the health unit as security, but I also take care of the well by cleaning it and making sure the children don’t spoil it.  The WASH committee and I sweep the well grounds twice a week. Cleanliness is important because you cannot go and fetch water there when the place is dirty. It is not nice.

"I learnt a lot from VSO – how to get fresh water, how to do maintenance, and how to rehabilitate the well when it’s been spoiled. I have the tools I need to keep it in good condition. But if there is a serious problem, I call VSO."

Person washing with water from the well VSO/Peter Caton

Fresh clean water is now readily accessible in the heart of Charlotte community - and it makes all the difference to public health

No place like home

"Charlotte means a lot to me because I was born here and I grew up here. The atmosphere is very nice. The place is clean and quiet. Sierra Leone’s nature is one of the best things in this country – we have a beautiful atmosphere, we have trees, we have beautiful beaches. We have a lot of culture here.

"I hope in the future that Charlotte village will develop. Very soon we will have electricity in our community, and we want a Community Centre too.”

Find out more about our work in Sierra Leone.

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