November 2010 – Sierra Leone Expedition / Project Phase One completed!
After 18 months of fund raising , planning and preparing, five of the trustees of Alive & Well, each paying for their own flights and expenses, flew out to Sierra leone in October 2010. They collected the Dando drilling rig, the essential drilling equipment, supplies and the Land Rover that Alive & Well’s funds had paid for and shipped to Freetown (the capital) a week earlier. Once checked over and loaded up, they headed out to the Pujehun District of Sierra Leone where some of the greatest need had been identified. Based in the village of Gbongay, they then began three weeks of drilling in some of the poorest and most inaccessible villages in the region.
The following was achieved:
- The Dando 2000 rig and Landrover delivered to the Pujehun District and based at the village of Gbongay
- The local crew who live in Gbongay were recruited, inducted into the Alive & Well community and their training begun. The UK crew (trustees: Paul Dowding, Kim Findlay, Will Hancock and Jon Sugden along with our engineer Gary Metcalf) spent three weeks in Gbongay setting up the project, training the crew and setting in place the processes needed to manage the project ‘in-country’ and from the UK.
- Drilling commenced, and the initial well was used as a training exercise for the Local crew, who became known as the ‘Orange Crew’, after the dominent rig colour. Future rigs may be in different colours to differentiate rigs and crews.
- Political relationships and ties were built, through essential meetings with the local MP (known as ‘The Honourable’), the Paramount Chief of the two Chiefdoms Alive & Well will work in, the local Council and all the District Councillors and the village Chiefs of the villages that we drilled in.
- A drilling plan was formulated, showing which villages we will be drilling in over the coming months.
- Local infrastructure issues assessed, pump manufacture options considered and the ground laid for the next groups in 18 months time.
The fact finding expedition was a great success. It provided the trustees with an insight and understanding of the difficulties presently faced, both working on the ground in-country and in our communications with the teams and, a vital part of the equation if we are to succeed in controlling the works and achieving our goals.
The Four Wells Drilled October/November 2010
Well No 1 – Gbongay, Pejeh Chiefdom
Gbongay (pronouced ‘bongay’ ). This is the village where the team were based. In thanks to the villagers for their great hospitality, and as a practice and training exercise for the team, this was the first well drilled. Our first well ‘in-country’ was drilled next to where the village have a basic medical centre and maternity unit.
Ngeima, Barri Chiefdom
The 2nd village where we drilled a well was called Ngeima (pronounced ‘Geema’)
Yuabo, Barri Chiefdom
The 3rd Village where we drilled a well was called Yuabo
Dedegahun, Barri Chiefdom
The 4th village where we drilled a well was called Dedegahun