Tana Banas - Mission Outreach to Sumba

Mr. & Mrs. B. Sommer
P.O. Box 130
Waingapu, Sumba Timur
NTT 871000

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The Sumba Mission
c/o John Otten
285733 Airport Road
Norwich, ON N0J 1P0

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Moving to a small, desolate island is probably not the choice most people would make when they retire.

This has been the choice of Bill and Marion Sommer.

Since the Sommers have left for the island off the southern coast of Indonesia, they have been working with UNICEF and World Vision to improve the quality of life of the islands inhabitants. Although their experiences have certainly been challenging, Bill and Marion have not become discouraged and have kept friends, family and members of their church (Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation) well informed as to what has been happening.

One thing the Sommers realize now, more than ever, is to never take clean water for granted. This vital substance is a scarce commodity in Sumba. The Sommers must ration themselves to 5 liters a day. When more is needed they must bring their containers to the road where a bus collects them and brings refills back from the city. It is essential that drinking water come from the city to prevent disease. One of the main goals for the Sommers was to build a well for the village. After much difficulty in finding someone to do the labour, the task was finally accomplished in December of 1999. Initially the results were disappointing, as they found very little water. The well is 66 meters deep, but it currently contains only 19 meters of water. The Sommers are waiting for a pump to see if the water is sufficient. If it is, they will be able to build a pump house, a washroom and an open room where people can wash and take a bath. The total cost so far has equated to approximately $3,475.00 U S.

In Sumba, as well as in other areas where there is little clean water, there is much disease. Each year there are vast outbreaks of cholera, primarily because people do not boil the water before they use it. This problem is particularly endemic in the beginning of the rainy season when many people just drink from the river. With the rainy season, which is now in full swing, also comes a new crop of mosquitoes, which in turn results in an increase in malaria, the number one disease in Sumba. The Sommers themselves must sleep in a 'klambee', a large net tent that completely encloses the bed, to protect them from the mosquitoes.

Tana Banas - Mission Outreach to Sumba

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