WellFound has worked in Guinea-Bissau since 2009, and worked in partnership with villagers to provide over 60 wells. We have helped the villagers improve their nutrition, sanitation, health, and gender equality.
In 2018 we will continue to work in Guinea-Bissau as the need is still great. In addition we have decided to expand to another country, and to replicate the model which is proving successful.
After extensive desk research, and on the invitation of another charity (not one working in the same field as us) we have selected Sierra Leone.
This west African country was ravaged by a bloody and brutal civil war which ended in 2002. More recently it was hit by Ebola which only receded in 2015.
The CEO and one of the trustees travelled there in November 2017 for a fact finding visit. We travelled to a remote coastal area about six hours drive from the capital, Freetown, where we found people living in poverty.
In one typical village the nearest health point (which is a very rudimentary facility) is three miles away. Sick people have to be carried there. There is only one literate person. The teacher in the school is often absent, and there is no oversight, so the children are not being educated. They fetch water from pools and an unpleasant looking pit. The diet is rice and cassava which is of poor nutritional value. Malaria and malnutrition are rife.
We met several people who showed initiative and enthusiasm to sort their villages out, and it is in these areas that we will consider working first. For example one village had a communal garden where they grew peppers. They had done everything with no intervention from outside. They had taught themselves to prepare the soil, fertilise it with chicken dung, and keep the termites away by scattering shavings of bark from the breadfruit tree. We can work with this kind of initiative. Even at this very early stage we need to plan for when we move on, and we need to be sure that the villagers will own the new facilities and care for them.
We have much careful planning to do back in London now, and we will mobilise slowly and carefully to increase the chances of success. However the trip certainly demonstrated there is a huge need, and we have the opportunity to help.