A decade of civil war destroyed much of Sierra Leone’s infrastructure and education system. In 2010, at the request of community leaders, WCC hired out space in a community hall and employed several local volunteer graduates as teachers. WCC began to offer nursery and primary school education to 50 forgotten and abandoned local children who were orphaned and left destitute by the civil war.
As a result of the Ebola epidemic that struck Sierra Leone in 2014, we made the decision to close the school to prevent the risk of spreading the disease. We have since made the decision to partner with another local school that is considered the best in the area, and our children will be attending from the 30th March 2015.
We are particularly excited about this venture and look forward to its success. The school has excellent facilities, including a field that we are planning to develop into a fully functional sports field.
Children in Sierra Leone
The dedication of our staff has helped these young people become literate, and enabled them to realise the skills and talents that they possess but never had the chance to tap into previously. By delivering core subjects such as Maths, English and Science, as well as focusing on developing their vocational skills through apprenticeships and mentoring programmes, they learn a craft that will be useful to the local community. This not only helps them to gain employment when they graduate, but is also helping Sierra Leone to become a vibrant and self-contained country that is less reliant on external long-term aid. Our drama and arts therapy programmes aid them to overcome the trauma of war, and the basic health and sanitation training that we deliver is helping to reduce child mortality from easily preventable infections. Vital HIV/AIDs prevention messages, and those aimed at reducing other contagious diseases, are made easier for the children to grasp by delivering them through playing activities and fun games.
Reasons to support the project include:
- No ‘brain drain’ risk – with low domestic demand, it is almost certain the children will remain in the village once they graduate, so the brain drain risk is very low.
- Multiplier effects – we find that the children soon pass on the basic knowledge that we impart to them about how to clean themselves, prepare food and look after their surroundings, to friends and family, so the indirect benefits of the project’s health services extend far beyond the children alone.
- Local community cohesion – it achieves the involvement of a broad spectrum of the local community, including elders, parents and businesses, thus fostering social cohesion and solidarity which benefits all. By devolving decision-making power to local people, they feel a sense of ownership themselves.
- Excellent value for money – the help of local volunteers who dedicate their time; the fact that the local currency is so weak against the pound; and the comparatively low cost of living, means we can ensure that grant money from the UK is enormously cost-effective.
Funding Need in 2018
The school has been running successfully for three years but without permanent premises, its future cannot be secured. Now the second stage of our business plan is to construct a new four-classroom school building so we can expand its capacity and provide an education for a further 100 children. We will also begin to employ two full-time teachers so that the school quality of education is improved and can become more sustainable. Furthermore the building will mean that money is not lost on rent each year but can be spent directly on the children’s education. We and these children have achieved so much but due to the temporary nature of operating out of rented premises, the school’s future is precarious but we have faith that we will be able to provide a permanent building. It is in this endeavour that we seek your support.
Recently the organisation viewed a land that it looks forward to purchase with size approximately 11954 square-feet and have gained permission from the relevant authorities to build the school. Providing the adequate funding is received, we aim to commence building work at the end of 2017 and start recruitment for a Project Manager. Two Primary Teachers, part-time, Teaching Assistants and a caretaker will be employed early in 2018 and the building should be completed within a year ready for the start of the new term.
Long-Term Strategic Plan
When WCC began working in the community, no formal education, health or income-generating projects existed. The progress that has been made since has been magnificent. However, we recognise that the people of Sierra Leone should not depend on us forever so, in consultation with local elders, we have a phased withdrawal plan in place under which our support to the area will reduce over 5 years. This will enable us to dedicate more resources to replicating the WCC Academy model and expanding our work in neighbouring towns. Aside from education and healthcare services, we also plan to help local people to establish income-generating projects so that it can become financially self-sustaining in the long-term.