Flooding Rains, Willing Hearts, and God’s Provision
From Debbie Jones, GO Africa Director
As I sat in my family room listening to a major wind and rain storm hit my house and wondering about the impact it might have on my life and surroundings I couldn’t help but think about my friends in Senegal and what they recently experienced during one of their rain storms.
Senegal, West Africa has a very different climate than much of the United States. Generally, the climate can be described as tropical but it does vary broadly and includes three main zones. The far northern region has a warm, desert like climate with very little rainfall. The middle region is warm and semi-arid with an annual rainfall from 24 inches on the Atlantic coast to 14 inches in the Kaffrine area and lessening the farther east you travel. The southern region is a tropical savanna climate with rainfall of about 59 inches yearly. Senegal’s rainy season starts in mid June to early July and lasts until October. From October – June there is virtually no rainfall except for the occasional, but rare, sprinkle.
Go on the Mission currently has five sponsorship schools located in the middle region of Senegal. Two schools are in the capital city of Dakar located on the Atlantic coast; one school is about an hour east in Thies. Farther inland we have a school about three and a half hours east of Dakar in Koalack, and just an hour farther we have Bethesda School in Kaffrine. Based on the information above you can understand from west to east these schools receive between 24 and 14 inches of rain each year.
In mid July during a video meeting with one of GO’s Senegal partners a concern about rainfall was shared. The rainy season had not started and there was fear of a drought and ruined crops. On July 27, I received a message from Senegal that rains had finally come but with a vengeance to the Kaffrine area dropping nearly 7 inches in less than a day leaving flooding and destruction behind. The flooding affected 10,313 people. Crops where overcome by water, millet supplies were washed away and homes were destroyed. The waters could not recede because the rains had slowed but not stopped. The worst news, our sponsorship school, Bethesda and the adjacent church were flooded with three feet of water and we would learn later, once the water finally receded, the school sustained significant damage.
One of my missionary friends from Kaffrine was in the states on furlough during the storm but she received a message from a Senegal neighbors that she passed onto me,
“I just talked to a friend in Kaffrine and asked about the flooding. She said, ‘it is the worst flood in town in 50 years’ – in the courtyard of our house (in Senegal) the water was up to her (tall!) husband’s neck. The power has been off… and it has continued to rain so the water is not going down very quickly. Thankfully, it happened during the day and although many huts and walls have fallen down no one was killed.”
Within hours after these first messages Bethesda’s headmaster sent these pictures showing the flooding in Kaffrine and later, once the water had finally receded the damage to the school.
Immediately GO went into action organizing a plan for flood relief sending out a plea to our Senegal partners, sponsors and supporters. We shared the need for flood relief and our concern for two new classrooms that were in the process of being built to accommodate the rapid growth of students.
Over the course of the next few weeks God provided beyond what we had expected. We needed to raise $2200 for the damage repair, but our sponsors and donors went above and beyond, donating over $4400! Because of your generosity we were blessed with enough funds too not only repair the flood damage but to finish one of the new (and badly needed) classrooms.
The 2016-2017 school year started on October 3 in Senegal and although Bethesda started about a week late they were able to receive children for the new school year. Thank you to all who shared the need, prayed for God’s provision and donated toward the flood relief! Without you Bethesda would not have been open in time for school this year.
If you would like to know more about the projects at Bethesda School please visit the project page.