By C. Winnie Saywah Jimmy , A seven-member international delegation of the global Christian non-governmental humanitarian organization, the Living Water International (LWI), has been visiting Liberia and assessing the work done so far at the organization’s local project sites.
The LWI with a vision of demonstrating the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water is also in the business of sharing the ‘living water’ which is the gospel of Jesus Christ satisfying the deepest thirst as well as providing and educating communities about sanitation and hygiene.
The delegates were Robert Nathan Throp, Senior vice president for Global Operations, Asher Castillo, member, Chris Seay, board member; Gebeyehu Abera, WASH Program Director for Africa; Mr. Ambaye Zekewos, outgoing country director, and Sylvia Kezengwa, regional communication specialist.
To date, as part of its achievements, the LWI can count to its credit over 1000 water points in the country which is in line with its mission in identifying and designing WASH programs across the country. Already the projects have gained strength in the Kakata District, Margibi County as well as parts of Montserrado County.
The delegation gracefully led by the president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mike Mantel, who’s on his first assessment tour of the organization’s structure and implementation of the projects in Liberia expressed joy and said that the LWI exists to partner with the communities to access safe drinking water and that can only be achieved when there is proper hygiene and sanitation awareness practiced.
During all of its visits, the head of delegation, Mantel officially introduced its new Liberia Country Director, Mr. Kanyata Mukelabi who replaces Mr. Zekewos who has also been reassigned as Country Director to Rwanda.
Mr. Mantel said with its 10 years of operations in Liberia, the LWI in Liberia has worked in line with its goals and much has been achieved noting that God loves the people of Liberia and can use so many ways to show how much He loves all peoples.
There were several meetings starting with the community dwellers in Borzoe Town around Fendell; as well as in Sueta and Gaylayla Towns in Margibi County. The delegation later held meetings with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Public Works.
The delegation climaxed its visit by paying a courtesy visit with one its major partners, Chevron and then honored an acquaintance meeting with the President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at her Foreign Affairs offices where the Living Water International Chief Executive Officer renewed his organization’s commitment to increasing its humanitarian services to Liberia in the Water and Sanitation (WASH) sector and said his organization has already drilled 60 bore holes that are providing safe drinking water for rural communities and rehabilitated 40 water wells in rural Liberia.
He said the organization is beginning to increase its services to Liberia from just providing safe drinking water to also building latrines for rural communities particularly in Margibi County which is now its operational area.
The president/CEO said the LWI operation has extended to the training of community youths in managing the water resources and latrines facilities and strategies derived by the community are working thereby making the community dwellers to take ownership.
He thanked President Sirleaf for creating the enabling environment for LWI to provide its humanitarian services to the people of Liberia while Mr. Thorp also expressed joy that LWI was now a major partner to the country that has its President as Africa’s Ambassador on Water and Sanitation.
Mr. Thorp said they felt obligated to promoting the WASH program in Liberia in support of President Sirleaf’s ambassadorial role played in Africa’s Water and Sanitation Program.
In response, President Sirleaf thanked LWI for all it has done and continues to do in Liberia, describing it as vital to the health and wellbeing of the Liberian people and that despite the challenges in reaching out to the hamlets, ranging from deplorable roads to the lack of electricity, LWI continues to strive to give the people access to safe drinking water.
President Sirleaf said access to drinking water has increased though the country is still faced with issues of sanitation; but with the support of Liberia’s partners, progress is being made to improve the sub-sector.
She also informed the LWI delegation that government is also engaged with other partners aimed at restoring pipe borne water to county capitals that will further increase access to safe drinking water. Other members of the LWI delegation that met with President Sirleaf were Mr. Zekewos; Madam Kazengwa; and Religious Advisor, Apostle James Tarr.
Meanwhile, at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the acting Health Minister, Yah Zolia, along with other deputy ministers held discussions with the LWI international delegation and team where working together with other companies to help the communities to have a better life in terms of hygiene, sanitation and safe drinking water was keen.
In all of the communities, the villagers explained how they had used their creeks to fetch for drinking water and expressed how thankful they were now that Living Water International has installed hand pumps in their town to ensure that they have safe drinking water and highlighted how the LWI teams in those communities have helped them understand the importance of hygiene and sanitation.
They explained that in time past, they, along with their families suffered from diarrhea and other water borne diseases due to poor or lack of awareness about how to keep their community clean and their families healthy.