Joy for one, joy for all

Community EmpowermentWater and sanitationSierra Leone

Memuna’s church in Sierra Leone and the local community used to be separate. But the problems that were affecting people in the church were affecting the community too. This is how one group began bridging the gap.

Sierra Leone is ranked by the UN as being one of the countries most prone to natural disasters. Since the Ebola epidemic in 2014-15, where thousands of people lost their lives, recovery has been slow. Over a third of people still don’t have access to clean water.

Memuna’s church started running Bible study groups, where everyone was able to participate. These groups not only read the Bible and pray, but also work together to find solutions to the problems they face. Through these groups deep friendships are formed and people are empowered to make changes to transform their lives – and the lives of those around them.

‘We didn’t wait for anyone – we did it ourselves.’

Memuna

Taking the initiative
Memuna’s group started talking about how there was only one well in the village, and the problems this was causing. ‘Children were late to school because of the time it took to get water,’ she says.

The group decided to take action. ‘We came together as a community and decided to build more wells.’ And this was just the beginning for the group.

‘We were so deprived before… [But being a part of this group] has enlarged our knowledge. We have developed roads, and we didn’t wait for anyone – we did it ourselves.’

Memuna and her group have felt empowered to make these changes for themselves. This is why we invest in groups like hers. Local people understand the problems they face and the solutions that will help them the most. And by being given the tools they need to fix these problems, the groups quickly rise to the challenge.

Bringing people together
Groups like these soon become a lifeline in the community. They bring people together – people who are often marginalised by society, like women and the elderly.

We were not meant to do life alone. Scripture is full of community: a God bringing people together in the call to love our neighbours. And, at the heart of it all, a God persistent in pursuing a relationship with us.

‘If there is a problem for one, it is a problem for everyone, if there is joy for one, there is joy for everyone.’ Memuna says. ‘In the past, people would just isolate themselves, now people have concerns for one another.’

A prayer for community

Loving God,
Thank you that you made us for fellowship. At a time when so many are facing isolation and loneliness, please give us opportunities to draw together in love. We pray for communities like Memuna’s, where the church is uniting people so that they can lift themselves out of poverty. Please continue to bless this work.
In Jesus’ name, amen.