• Sierra Leone, West Africa, and the location of Mattru Jong
  • Before the devastating civil war, the CSS School was ranked among the best in national public exams.
  • Our first task was to improve the sanitation in the boy's and girl's bathrooms. Here the piping goes in.
  • Solar panels for the administration building are installed.
  • Next up was supplying vital clean water to the campus, here the 40m+ well is dug with great results.
  • The water supply now in place, the next step was a solar-powered Water Distribution System for the campus.
  • The fruits of the labor are eagerly sampled.
  • In March 2016, the electrical systems were expanded, and we helped educate the people on how to sustain thier new systems
  • Students assembled in front of the chapel now have clean water to drink and lighting to study at night
  • Our Five Year Plan complete, we pivot to the restoration of the Hospital, which is ongoing.
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Centennial Secondary School (CSS) was established by American missionaries of the United Brethren in Christ Church in 1955 as Sierra Leone's first experimental co-educational boarding school. In the 1960s and 1970s, CSS was ranked among the best in national public exams and counted numerous successful members of the Sierra Leone community among its graduates. However, during the Civil War of the 1990s, rebels occupied the CSS compound, consisting of about a dozen buildings, including classrooms, chapel, administration, and residence halls.

The rebels destroyed the water supply, sanitation system, and electrical systems. Infrastructure was looted for the value of the materials. The school has been reopened and currently has approximately 1,800 students. Students did not have access to clean water and sanitation facilities on campus.

Since the war, the quality of academics had also deteriorated significantly, even though CSS remains the only college preparatory school in a 30-mile radius. The lack of water, sanitation, and electrical systems, and the resulting inability to board students, impeded the school from performing at its previous levels.


Since our initial assessment trip in 2010, our chapter has made eight trips to Sierra Leone. We have worked with the school community to re-establish functioning water and sanitation systems, electricity in classrooms, and refurbishing the science building. We have partnered with the school's alumni association, The Centennial Old Students Association (CeOSA), Rotary International, Peace Corps volunteers, and others to make these improvements. In addition to restoring infrastructure, we partner with the community to develop the organizational and financial systems to ensure the improvements' long-term sustainability.

The EWB Lehigh Valley Professionals’ 5-year Mission at Centennial Secondary School, for sustainable infrastructure for education included the following key elements:

  1. Clean Water
  2. Appropriate sanitary facilities
  3. Power for critical functions
  4. Safe buildings
Today, at the Centennial Secondary School, enrollment is up, academic results are up, students and faculty enjoy clean water, electricity, and a much-improved setting to learn and grow.


After our initial assessment trip, the first item addressed in 2011 was the boys' and girls' restrooms' sanitation situation. First, urinals were installed, followed by bucket flush toilets.

Next up was lighting for classrooms. Solar lighting was installed in 3 classrooms, allowing for study to continue into the night.

In April 2012, a deep well was dug, which is productive year-round. An infrastructure fee was also introduced at this time to ensure the sustainability of the new systems.

Installed campus-wide in February of 2013 was the solar-powered water distribution system.

In March of 2014, a new roof was installed on the Chemistry/Physics Building.

Electrical systems were expanded in March 2016, and we helped educate the people on how to sustain their new systems.

Our Final trip for this project was in 2017 culminating in the installation of electric lighting in the library.

Today, the CSS School is returning to its former state, surpassing it in many ways with modern improvements that local people can sustain. The success of the school in terms of results for students has been dramatic and is improving. For example, BECE results rose from 14% to 92% in 2016 at Centennial Secondary School. 


Reverend Joseph Abu, long-term CeOSA-USA President, helped pioneer the EWB project. In addition, he traveled with the EWB team during almost all their numerous trips to Sierra Leone. His skill in translation, driving, etc. were certainly appreciated. Reverend Abu was a great help to us, his alma mater, and all concerned.

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Dr. Lauretta Will Sillah, Secretary General, CeOSA-North America, She was instrumental during Assessment, Development and Implementation stages. Dr. Sillah, through her DLWEF Foundation, has donated over a million-dollars worth of educational materials to academic institutions in Sierra Leone.

Principal Sulaiman Sengeh, on the occasion of the completion of the project, delivered a powerful Keynote address thanking and appreciating EWB and committing to the sustainability of all installations. His desired goal is to have more than 50% of students pass the university entrance requirements. We have confidence they can do it.


Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Lehigh Valley Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders has been severely challenged, as most of us have been. Our fundraising to do this work has also suffered. Would you consider a personal donation, or would you ask your employer? Without help from generous-minded people like you, the work grinds to a halt. We are currently still working in Mattru Jong on the restoration and expansion of the hospital, which will benefit many people.