Longtime Community Leader Shares Words of Wisdom
Villagers were gathered at a community meeting in Mamboma, excitedly discussing their local latrine project, when a man began to speak and the room went silent. It was Edwin Monjue Saffa (pictured right), one of the oldest men in the chiefdom.
Over 50 years ago, Mr. Saffa began his lifetime of service as an elected Chiefdom Councilor while living in Mamboma. In 1986, he moved and became a section chief in Majoe, a nearby village OVP is just beginning to work with.
Though it is no longer his home, Mr. Saffa still considers Mamboma the place where he became a man and started contributing to improve his community. He was pleased to happen upon the community meeting while visiting from Majoe.
This trip between villages would have been more difficult when he was a young man in the 1930s due to a lack of roads. But Mr. Saffa never let such challenges hold him back.
“We didn’t wait for roads to come to us,” Mr. Saffa told the crowd. “We went out with our hoes and cutlasses and we built it with our hands! Then we used the sticks that we cut down to build a school for our children! No one helped us do all this.”
In those times, the resources for latrines were largely unavailable, so villagers relieved themselves in the stream, a practice which spread disease and made them feel ashamed. Mr. Saffa built his family a latrine as soon as he could, but even today many people do not have access to this technology.
Currently OVP is working alongside villagers in Mamboma to complete the construction of 30 improved latrines that will allow for more privacy and help community members succeed in their chosen goal of reducing the spread of diarrheal disease.
“You are blessed to have someone assisting you in building these latrines,” Mr. Saffa said. “Take advantage of this opportunity.”
He has been sharing similar encouragement in his current home of Majoe. He checks in to ensure volunteers are working hard and offers his words of wisdom.
“Wearing fancy clothes doesn’t make you civilized!” he reminded the people. “Civilization is about what you do to make your community move forward.”
OVP works to connect leaders like Mr. Saffa to the tools they need to move their own communities forward. Strong partnerships have already accomplished so much in Mamboma. As we forge new community partnerships, like in Majoe, we look forward to the results being just as transformative.