“In the whole town it is hard for you to find a drinking cup because there is no drinking water.” – Resident
With tons of kaleidoscope-colored drinking cups in hand, residents danced with excitement at the sight of a newly constructed hand pump, dedicated by Youth Action International (YAI) over the weekend in the Harrisburg community, rural Montserrado County.
The hand pump is being hailed by residents as a safe source from which they can get safe drinking water.
“I am happy for this, we will place an emergency number on the hand pumps wall so that you will be able to contact us in case the pump gets damaged,” said YAI founder Dr. Kimmie L. Weeks. “So that you don’t have to sit here and wait for it to get fixed again. Just call the number and it will be fixed right away.”
Taking the first drink from the hand pump, assisted by a resident after cutting the ribbon, Dr. Weeks said he understands the significance of such resourcefulness for this community. For the past few years, he added, he has brought filters to help rural dwellers get safe drinking water from any source.
“We are repairing hand pumps across the entire Montserrado so that other hand pumps are replaced in nearby communities. The realization that the community itself lacked safe drinking water came after an assessment done by YAI and, though we were not ready to start our project, they talked about water being one of their major their problems and the fact that almost all the hand pumps have been destroyed. We thought by all means we should press ahead and start out the project and I don’t like to waste time, when I say something should start, it should start,” Dr. Weeks added.
The Harrisburg residents said they have had only two sources where they get water from, namely the Saint Paul River and a polluted creek that runs down a path through Harrisburg.
“Even if we see feces in the river, we will still draw the water and drink it because we need it. Even if we see dirty and old rags floating in the creek, we will still drink it,” residents said.
In addition, Fatmattah Konneh, bush farmer and resident of Harrisburg, said having been affected by the lack of resources in the past, now having safe drinking water is a big encouragement.
“In the whole town it is hard for you to find a drinking cup, because there is no water. Sometimes water can’t come for one week, two weeks and then water gets short,” she stated.
“If anyone wanted to be a leader in my community and asked out of all the facilities that were needed, which one is the best, bringing drinking water in my community will be the best you could do,” she added, “because that is what we are crying for. Dr. Weeks, I know that is why you were given the knowledge and the title ‘Doctor’, because no doctor in the world will tell you not to drink water because water is life.”
Afterwards, YAI has pledged to extend more of its resources in the community as a request by residents.
“Soon we will start on a youth community center bringing computers for the young people. The youth must show that they are energized to growing; we must be able to see the young people who must benefit from it by being a part of helping. When we start the work, we expect the young people to be here,” he shared.
Alternatively, YAI is a United States based organization that focuses on education, health and economic empowerment. Its founder, Dr. Kimmie Weeks, is also an Activist, social entrepreneur, motivational speaker and humanitarian and is aware that safe drinking water is ‘a basic human right’. More than a billion people across the world lack safe drinking water, according to the World Health Organization.
Meanwhile, YAI also donated to the Crozierville township clinic some small-small items requested by leaders during the assessments.
“The clinic told us its priorities and in the case of here they said water and they have no drugs in their government health center because it has been a while since they received antibiotics and things like that. They get the anti-malaria, but they don’t have the basic necessities, and we provided it,” Dr. Weeks shared.
“We have a partner who will air lift medical supplies in Liberia soon we will be able to reach out to many clinics in Liberia as they say they need essentials.”