By: Augustine N. Myers – The President and Chief Executive Officer of Living Water International (LWI), Dr. Michael J. Mantel has for the first time visited the Republic of Liberia.
Dr. Mantel was in Liberia on a 4-Day Official visit along with other Senior Officials of Living Water International from Saturday, March 8 to Tuesday, March 11, 2014.
He was accompanied by the Senior Vice President for Global Operations-Robert Nathan Thorp, WASH Program Director for Africa-Gebeyehu Abera, Regional Communications Specialist for Africa-Sylvia Kezengwa and Religious Advisor- Apostle James Tarr.
Dr. Mantel was also accompanied by the former Country Director of Living Water International-Liberia, Ambaye Zekewos who is now the Country Director in Rwanda.
The LWI President and CEO and Delegation were led on an Assessment Tour by the Country Director, Kanyata Mukelabai and Operation Manager, Raymond Musa, among other National Staff.
They visited three communities that have benefited from LWI’s Safe Drinking Water Project and Community Led Total Sanitation (LCTS) Initiatives in Montserrado and Margibi counties, respectively.
The Delegation later visited the Ministries of Health & Social Welfare and Public Works-WASH Department, Chevron Liberia and the Office of Liberia’s President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and held fruitful discussions.
During the Assessment, Dr. Mantel and Team visited Barzoe Town in Fendell-Montserrado county, and Sueta and Gaylayla Town in Margibi county.
In Barzoe Town, the Delegation was warmly greeted by the citizens and commanded for the provision of the first hand pump in the Town which continues to serve them clean and safe drinking water, thus eradicating the high level of water-related diseases that were prevalence prior to the construction of the hand pump.
The Acting Town Chief, William K. Garway described the hand pump as a relieve, and appealed to Living water International for another pump due to growth in population.
According to him, prior to the construction of the hand pump eight years ago, Barzoe Town had little over 100 persons and that the Town currently has a population of 333 which has increased the demand for safe drinking water.
Town Chief Garway led the Delegation to an unclean creak outside the Town that was once used to fetch water, and commanded LWI for helping to transform the lives of residents of the community.
Dr. Mantel and Delegation said they were happy to visit Liberia and see the level of progress taking place after years of civil crisis.
According to them, they will continue to pray for Liberia including Barzoe Town to continue not only with the provision of water, but Living Water of Jesus Christ to flow in the hearts of everyone to truly know the Lord Jesus as their personal Lord and savior.
Barzoe Town in Montserrado county was established in 1908, and Living Water International was the first Organization to make good its promise in providing access to free and safe drinking water to the people.
Also as part of the Assessment Tour to some rural communities benefiting from WASH activities of Living Water International-Liberia, Dr. Mantel and Delegation later visited Sueta in Margibi county, a community of 306 persons.
The community had a massive turnout to welcome LWI Team with especially Religious Christian songs commanding God.
Dr. Mantel and Delegation were not only impressed with the warm reception accorded them, but the admirable level of cleanliness which engulfed the surroundings of the entire community.
The Team was also amazed with the orderly and coordinated manner in which the hand pump is effectively managed. Sueta has a local Committee which overheads the management of the pump through the collection of agreed minimum fees. The funds are kept in the Sueta Water Point Cash Box to maintain the pump in case of break down or other problems.
Dr. Mantel and Delegation were pleased that the Community could embark on a Self Help Initiative for the sustainability of the pump. This according to them, shows that the Community appreciates the Project.
The Living Water International Team later visited the Gaylayla Town in Margibi and received similar warm reception from the citizens, especially students of the Gaylayla Public School.
Dr. Mantel and Delegation were also pleased to see another clean environment and a Self Help Initiative to ably manage the hand pump. Gaylayla Town also has a save-deposit where cash are kept from voluntary weekly contributions of the residents for the maintenance of the pump.
The Team at the close of the visit, toured Gaylayla Town and admired the tidiness of the entire Community.
Gaylayla is one the Communities in Margibi county that has achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) Status, under the Community Led total Sanitation (CLTS).
The Delegation from the Living Water International, led by its President and CEO also visited the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare, through the Division of Environmental & Occupational Health.
The Ministry was represented by the Acting Minister-Yah M. Zolia, Deputy Minister for Administrator-Mathew T.K. Flomo, and Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services-Tolbert G. Nyenswah, among other Senior Officials and Directors of the Ministry.
Dr. Mantel said the Meeting was intended to reaffirm the commitment of Living Water International to the Government and people of Liberia on the provision of improved WASH services.
He said LWI has been in Liberia for 10 years now and has completed 1000 water points, “331 new water points and the rehabilitation of 669 old water points”. He pointed out that LWI began with Water Access Program throughout the counties and currently focuses on specific geographical areas to help the communities have access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Acting Health Minister, Yah M. Zolia welcomed the Team on behalf of Minister Walter T. Gwenigale who is out of the country, and commanded Living Water International for enhanced WASH services to the Liberian people.
Madam Zolia said the issue of access to safe drinking water remains critical and pledged the Ministry’s support to the work of Living Water International in Liberia.
The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare used the Meeting to formally present a Letter of Recommendation to the LWI Team, endorsing the request for funding from Chevron Liberia to provide WASH services in District # 4, Montserrado County.
According to the Ministry, after a period of review of the Proposal and the significant contributions Living Water International has made towards the contribution of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services to the government and people of Liberia, it was pleased to make the recommendation.
The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare believes that Living Water International as a leading bore hole drilling INGO in the Liberian WASH sector would assist the Health Ministry through its Programme to accelerate progress in meeting the MDG Target for WASH.
Chevron Liberia Limited in 2013 provided two hundred thousand United States dollars to Living Water International for the purchase of a Drilling Machine.
The Letter signed by Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services-Tolbert G. Nyenswah, and approved by Health Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale expressed appreciation for efforts aimed at ensuring that all Liberians have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation services.
Similar visit was made to the Public Works Ministry but the Meeting was very brief, void of media coverage due to reported administrative policy.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mantel and Delegation have held successful talks with the Country Manager of Chevron Liberia Limited, Karl L. Cottrell.
Mr. Cottrell extolled Living Water International for efforts aimed at ensuring access to safe drinking water, and assured that his Entity remains committed to improving the lives of the people, especially through WASH and health services.
Dr. Mantel also commanded Chevron Liberia and said LWI was happy to be a good partner in serving humanity.
Dr. Mantel and Delegation later concluded with an official visit to the Office of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and were warmly received by the President.
The Liberian Leader commanded Living Water International for its WASH contributions to the State and people, and pledged her government’s partnership commitment for the provision of more efficient WASH services.
President Sirleaf recounted the need for improved WASH services across the country so that Liberians can have unhindered access to safe drinking water, better sanitation and hygiene facilities.
The President also commanded Living Water International for activities in other areas outside water and sanitation. Living Water International was among other things instrumental in the renovation of the National Legislature, and Vocational and Literacy Skills Building Program for ex-combatants and war affected youths.
Living Water International exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water, and to experience “living water”—the Gospel of Jesus Christ—which alone satisfies the deepest thirst.