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Collaborating to Improve Water and Sanitation

A Letter from Jim and Jodi McGill, serving in Niger and South Sudan

July 2019

Write to Jim McGill
Write to Jodi McGill

Individuals: Give online to E200385 for Jim and Jodi McGill’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D506718 for Jim and Jodi McGill’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)

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First, we must thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of love and concern, and for the prayers for our family during Jim’s illness this year. It has been humbling to have heard from so many we have known over our lifetime as well as from so many we have never met who shared with us the many intercessions being lifted on our behalf from all over the world. All is well now, with Jim back at work again after about three months of changed priorities.

Our last two letters were written with the family separated due to these health issues. After three weeks of being back together as a family in Niger, we are separated again so that the younger four children may benefit from summer opportunities in the U.S. Jodi and the younger four are using Mission Haven in Georgia as their base. Salome has work in Florida and then an internship in Washington DC; Selina is attending a camp-counselling training in Asheville, NC, after which she will work in Texas; and the younger boys, Joseph and John, will attend a summer school program in Connecticut. During Jim’s recuperation time in the U.S., he was able to be with sons Michael and Jason to help shift them from the Dimmock family home in Mission Haven to Orlando, Florida. The boys have found work at the Orlando airport that will help support their studies in Music Production (Michael) and Film Production (Jason) there in Orlando in the coming fall. Jodi will be able to take some online courses while in the U.S. that our internet service in Niger would not allow. Jim is taking this time with the family away from Niger to visit South Sudan to support the WaSH development work of the Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency (PRDA) and to reschedule the low-cost water and sanitation trainings that were cancelled due to his illness. We look forward to being back together as a family before school begins again in August.

During this visit to Juba, Jim has been able to begin working on a partnership between the Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency (PRDA), the SMART Centre and a new technical training center operated by the organization TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training). The TVET Centre is being founded very close to Juba. TVET is inviting PRDA to provide all water technician trainings that are linked to the agricultural trainings through irrigation, while allowing the SMART Centre to use the facilities to run its own trainings. The TVET Centre has been allowed access to 8 hectares (about 20 acres) of land in Rajaf, about 10 km south of Juba on the eastern bank of the Nile River. Although not far from Juba, it takes about 40 minutes to reach due to the very poor condition of the roads. The Scouts of South Sudan (includes both Boy and Girl Scouts), who own the land, have given permission to use the property as long as the facilities will be made available for their Jamborees that take place two weeks each year. The Scouts have classrooms, dormitories, and workshop and storage space on the property which, although well-built, will need a lot of maintenance and repairs.

We expect to continue to utilize the workshop and SMARTech demonstration grounds that have been established at the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan Dinka Congregation within Juba to complement the technical training site at Rajaf. The Juba workshop allows for exposure to PRDA’s development work within WaSH for the many individuals and organizations who would not have time to visit the TVET site. The TVET property will be very useful for the longer trainings for technicians, while the Juba facility allows visitors to see examples of the low-cost but high-quality WaSH products that can be produced by SMART Centre trained technicians — products that will improve water and sanitation in the areas in which those technicians are living.

An exciting development with the WaSH work in Niger includes a new program that links Jim’s technical trainings with the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) work being done with Presbyterian Mission Co-worker Rev. Michael Ludwig. Our partner church in Niger, the EERN, and Michael have been improving lives within communities by working with those communities to identify needs and then providing simple trainings to offer options to try to meet those needs. The EERN has recognized that individuals trained in CHE with a focus on WaSH (WaSH-CHE individuals) could allow communities to work with health facilities to improve the water and sanitation within those facilities. WaSH-CHE individuals would be the links that health care providers would approach when they notice problems, including interruptions of water, potential sources of contamination of drinking water, unhygienic latrines, running out of soap, non-functioning handwashing facilities and improper disposal of solid waste. The WaSH-CHE individuals would do upkeep and repairs to their level of training, after which they would connect to the WaSH private sector providers being trained through the EERN SMART Centre. The EERN is one of over 75 organizations including the World Health Organization and UNICEF that submitted a commitment to a gathering in Washington DC on June 19 of this year to improve WaSH in health care facilities. The EERN has committed to improve WaSH in about 10 rural health facilities within Niger.

We are grateful for the interest in and support for both the nursing school and the WaSH programs in Niger. With funds provided by PC(USA) donors, the EERN recently drilled a deep well at the Bible College of Dogon Gao that will provide enough water to allow students to irrigate and grow the food they need for their sustenance during their stay in school.

Additionally, we are perpetually inspired by your donations towards our personal support, your prayers, and your communication with us that help us continue to be your representatives with the EERN and to act on your behalf as part of the Church’s mission with the people of Niger.

Thank you.

Jim and Jodi

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