Engineers without Borders (EWB) in collaboration with Centennial Old Students Association (CeOSA) has provided solar water and sanitation installation and rehabilitated the Centennial Secondary School (CSS) campus, Mattru Jong in the Bonthe District.
The school was the first co-educational boarding school in Sierra Leone founded by American missionaries of the United Brethren in Christ Church, it was one of the most prestigious secondary schools in the 60s, 70s and 80s but standards have fallen over the years.
The 1,800 students, staff and the surrounding community, had no water or sanitation and no electricity for over 20 years. The community was plagued with an aging infrastructure. The school produced no students who could pass any public examinations.
The alumni of the school stepped in to redeem their beloved alma mater in an attempt to restore the school to it’s past glory. The Centennial Old Students Association (CeOSA) in the United States, United Kingdom and Sierra Leone got involved.
Their first intervention was through the engagement of the philanthropic services of EWB-Lehigh Valley Chapter, eight years ago. They signed a 5-year WatSan contract for infrastructural rehabilitation at Centennial Secondary School. The contract was to develop sustainable infrastructure for education in the areas of access to clean water, sanitary facilities, electricity and safe buildings to accommodate staff and students.
The 5-year contract between the EWB, CeOSA and CSS was extended to 7 years due to Ebola disruption.
The EWB projects completed includes, installed solar powered lighting in three classrooms, sanitation facilities installed for boys and girls. Instituted student infrastructure fee and installed toilets (bucket flush) and rain gutter system for washrooms.
The EWB team also installed solar powered water distribution system throughout the school campus. They also put a roof on the chemistry/physics building. They also connected power to the library.
Electrical Engineer, Tom Power, and his local volunteers installed additional 16 Solar PV Modules for the solar operated well pump to enable evening activities and study time for exams.
An early impact and highly visible change saw a student with five credits on the WASSC Exam. Solar lights have improved study times and BECE results have improved from 14% to 92%.
There were many engineers, professional experts and volunteers who worked behind the scenes on the CSS project. Seventeen travelled to Sierra Leone to work at the campus.
Mechanical and Chemical Engineer, Diana Dunn, and teacher, Lori Cirucci, also trained students on solar-powered pumps after installation of additional solar panels for the library, water well, wash basins and water fountain.
There was a farewell gala for Engineers without Borders (EWB) who were celebrated in style by Mattru community, Centennial students and CeOSA (Centennial Old Students Assoc.) through cultural dances, gifts, attires and school choir performances.
Principal Sulaiman Sengeh thanked and appreciated EWB, committing to sustainability of all installations provided for the school.
Dr. Lauretta Will Sillah, Secretary General, CeOSA-North America, and Project Writer, shared the concept and background of the EWB/CeOSA/CSS project development.
She shared how it all came together through collaboration and cooperation from all parties including the CIIB (Centennial Infrastructure Improvement Board).
The CIIB members are parents, teachers, and local community leaders.
The Town Chief of Mattru Jong, Madam Tucker applauded the EWB team. She said they were delighted and felt fulfilled with the project.
By By Saidu Bah
Friday February 10, 2017