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Hygiene training helps 123,000 in 150 villages

BO, Sierra Leone — As we emerged from the canoe on the banks of the Sewa River, singing in

the distance told us that this was going to be an extraordinary day. We

were in the bush an hour east of Bo, in central Sierra Leone. Hiking up a

trail to the small forest village of Lowama, we saw a procession of about

50 villagers coming toward us singing praises to God, thanking him that

their prayers had been answered. It was an unexpected but exceptionally

warm welcome to a small contingency from Latter-day Saint Charities who had

come to teach villagers about hygiene in preparation for a water well being

constructed in their village.In a picturesque setting of mud-walled, thatch-roofed homes and open

cooking fires, we listened to rice being pounded for the evening meal and

observed beautiful children everywhere as we were escorted to the chief's

home. We visited with the village elders in the shade of an open porch. The

chief told us how much he appreciated our efforts to help improve his

community. While Bo is the second largest community in Sierra Leone with

more than 130,000 people, most people live in rural villages that don't

even appear on a map. Here, people have no paved roads, electricity, or

water systems.We were in Lowama to film the beginnings of a clean water project

sponsored by Latter-day Saint Charities. To ensure ownership of a well by

the community, each project is started with the formation of a water

committee and training in hygiene for families months in advance of the

well digging. If a problem arises, the community will have been empowered

to find a solution without reverting to getting water the way they had for

generations — out of streams with questionable purity.

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This story is provided by the LDS Church News, an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is produced weekly by the Deseret News.