Authors: Abdulai Sesay and Emmanuel George, Community Action Coordinators
“Our community had a lot of indifferences, which have largely challenged our development. But the unity we all showed in this work is a real signal that we already solved them.”
Section Chief Momoh Jegula expressed this praise at the recent project Handover Ceremony. As a community, Lalehun’s authorities have experienced moments in the past where they felt disappointed in the peoples’ adherence to local laws, traditions, and norms used to foster cohesion and harmony among its members. As a result, cooperation and unity among members has been an ongoing challenge. Individuals were more concerned with working on their farms and had little to no interest in even attending community meetings. Because of this, the community has been unable to progress and develop at the rate they would like. Through the work of OneVillage Partners, Lalehun has come together in unity to accomplish their goal of achieving 100% community access to latrines and inspired them to continue developing as a whole.
All members helped each other to implement a project they themselves designed in relation to their priority need and resulted in the completion of 44 new latrines. It further encouraged other community members who already had latrines to assist households who previously had no safer way of defecation. The issue of poor access to latrines prior to this time resulted in community members defecting in their environment, which increases the spread of diseases. The community discovered that if they unify and seek the interest of others the wellbeing and health of everyone will improve. Therefore, providing support to each other became the driving force to successfully implement the community’s designed project.
Throughout the process, the community showed unity in numerous ways. Some being; voting on what problem to address, local skilled workers willingly sharing their knowledge and expertise with volunteers, and community members providing resources to households that could not do so themselves. Their newfound unity encourages community ownership over the project and gives the impression of sustainability in addressing its future needs. Due to the communities mutual understanding of the latrine facilities, they are now ready for any future repairs, maintenance, or monitoring. “The work of OneVillage Partners is like a magical coin that has changed this community faster than we thought. We are now more united than before,” exclaimed Lalehun Town Chief Brima Lansana. Like many other partner villages, Lalehun is now more eager to do more development work in their community after experiencing what a unity can do. For example, separate from OneVillage Partners’ work two households came together to construct two additional latrines. Additionally, Lalehun has now started coming together on their own in order to create more community-wide projects like a farm and village savings and loan association.
OneVillage Partners’ community-led project helped Lalehun discover the importance of working together in order to benefit the entire population. Momoh Fadiru, a community member who participated in the construction of latrines even though he possessed one of his own, said; “The unity of this community is further guaranteed if we can become selfless and seek the interest of everyone in this community.” Thus, as they await the second-cycle project, Lalehun’s unity will surely grow. We are eager to see what project they choose next!