Wednesday, March 9, 2016

UK Trip for Sierra Leonean Teachers and Leaders

In February 2016, 10 of our Sierra Leonean staff came to the UK for teacher training, courtesy of the Steve Sinnott Foundation.

Widad Worneh, Malikie 'Leo' Barrie, Stephen Momoh, Fatmata Bangura and Mohamed 'Cobra' Bangura told us what they'd learnt and how they would take their experiences back to Sierra Leone to improve the quality of the teaching in our schools and beyond.

Watch their responses here

If you would like to donate to EducAid to assist us in continuing to train teachers to provide a quality education for some of Sierra Leone's most vulnerable young people, please click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Word about our Women on International Women’s Day

'Educating girls and giving them the tools to shape their own future has an incredible multiplier effect on economic growth.

It leads to increased prosperity not just for individuals but for their communities and their societies. It provides returns for decades.' - UN Secretary General; Ban Ki-Moon

Despite our greatest efforts, Sierra Leone still struggles with gender equality. There is widespread discrimination against women, who are routinely denied equal access to education, medical care and employment.

Women are at a significant disadvantage under the tribal laws that are in force everywhere except in the capital. These laws forbid, for example, the ownership of land by women. Wife-beating is taken for granted as a normal part of life, and most women consider it a justified punishment for such offences as burning food or leaving the house without permission. Female genital mutilation remains a major problem. According to a 2013 UNICEF report, 88% of women in Sierra Leone have undergone female genital mutilation. However, there is growing opposition to the practice.

‘The maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone is one of the highest in the world,’ Amnesty International notes. One in eight women in the country risk dying during pregnancy or childbirth. The report gained wide attention, with an article in the Guardian noting that most women in the country: ‘are too poor to pay for lifesaving treatment...Thousands bleed to death after giving birth.‘*

In 2007, 3 new acts, known as: ‘the gender acts,’ were intended to strengthen women's legal and financial position, and in 2010 the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children's Affairs began implementing a four-year National Gender Strategic Plan designed with the help of UN agencies. The ministry's efforts to protect women's rights have had no effect, owing to a lack of resources and cooperation on the part of other government bodies.

However we can strive to achieve gender equality more quickly. The answer is simple – Education.

Here at EducAid the very foundation of our vision is equality. We work towards developing more inclusive and flexible cultures by building supportive environments for women and girls to learn.

· Our women’s project has brought the proportion of girls attending EducAid schools from 10% in 2000 to 38% in 2015. This is more than just getting the girls into school, it is about engaging them academically, empowering them personally and providing a springboard for further successes.

· Girl Power Group – Girls in Sierra Leone often find it difficult to access their rights. The Girl Power Group is about educating the girls to achieve their full potential, enabling them to achieve more completely.

· Our White Ribbon Campaign teaches boys about equality, for if we cannot educate all our students about gender parity, we cannot end male violence towards women and girls.

· Maronka Girls’ Safe House – Although education is the key to sustainable development of the country, sometimes it is necessary to take further steps to ensure our girls are safe mentally, emotionally and physically.

And After Education?

Moving forward, we need to look at improving the democratic participation of women. Sierra Leone seriously needs a sustainable approach to economic prosperity. ‘Gender inequality holds back the growth of individuals, development of countries, and the evolution of societies, to the disadvantage of both men and women.’**

CLICK HERE to donate to EducAid, to help us maintain our progression towards providing quality education to some of Sierra Leone’s most vulnerable young girls and women.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Kai’s Building Force in Action!

Amazing developments in Magbeni this week. Joseph M. Kai, our school site co-ordinator, has been arranging for a new building to be constructed in place of what was once only a hut.

Together the local community has been putting together materials and skills to collaborate in the construction of our new building, as well as contributing resources for the education that will take place inside!

Kai tells us:
"We are presently constructing a permanent structure where we built the hut the last time AJ was here. Presently we have reached that height. A very good news towards this development is that we have received some aid from parents. Presently we have sticks, 4 boards, sand from the Magbeni community and most of all is that 2 parents provided 4 bundles of zinc yesterday. We are sure of roofing the building this week and we want to start using it as soon as possible. Lots of love Magbeni team"

Typically it can be difficult to get the local communities involved in the improvement of EducAid sites and the running of the schools. As poverty is so widespread in Sierra Leone, it is not always easy to convince locals to participate unless they see a direct and immediate benefit. Kai has done a fantastic job of involving the community and persuading them it is worth their while to be part of a project that will improve the standards of the local education, little by little.

We hope to implement more projects and opportunities in other areas that provide chances to engage the public, as well as teachers, parents and students, as this is how we will change the country! With people all making their own contribution and doing what they can.

Donate here by clicking this link.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lucy Howling - Mellor's Rose Queen

There are few better examples of our community's dedication than the story of Lucy who, as Mellor’s 2015/16 Rose Queen, chose to support EducAid in the fundraising events she organised for her village.

Over the past 8 months Lucy has been working hard to organise events for her community – these events have a great way of both bringing the community together, and to raise money for a charity which is close to their hearts. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Lucy for organising this series of events, the people of Mellor to whom we are extremely grateful for their generosity, and to wish them all the best of luck for the events still to come. This month Lucy wrote a letter telling us all about the events that they have carried out in the village, and how much they have managed to raise for the charity through doing so; it’s a really inspirational story from a driven young woman.

Hello, my name is Lucy and I am 15 years old. This year I am my local village Rose Queen and spend the year raising money for charity. I chose EducAid as I know Miriam and Kofi and I can see the fantastic work they do. My year started with me being crowned at the Fete in July.

My first fundraising event was a fashion show in which my mum, the local vicar, and a few others modelled clothes from SOS (a local boutique). Sherlocks hairdressers did the models hair and a friend did their makeup to make them feel extra glamorous. We gave everyone a free glass of bucks fizz on arrival and encouraged them to buy the clothes afterwards. We raised £850 which was really encouraging for a first event. 

Next up we hosted an Oktoberfest which featured a professional accordion player and our very own home grown oompah band. We served frankfurters, sauerkraut and apfelstrudel. We raffled a hamper filled with German goodies and had giant salamis as prizes for the best dancing. We encouraged people to come in their lederhosen and dirndls. People schunkled late into the night and we raised £1300.

In November we held a second hand toy sale and children’s Frozen party. We had lots of Frozen themed crafts and a Frozen sing along with ‘real’ snow. 

The weekend’s activities raised £600.

Throughout December we sold homemade produce at various local events. That put our total amount of money raised so far to £3736.55.
2016 has started with a bang. We transformed our village hall into a nightclub and hosted an awesome Beatles tribute band. Old and young boogied away the night together and we raised over £1500.

Still to come we have: Mellor’s Got Talent; a cake decorating workshop with afternoon tea; an African evening with a traditional African band and food and a children’s concert. My Dad and brother are also going to walk the Pennine Way in the summer and ask for sponsorship. 
So far this year has been so much fun and it is a privilege to support such an inspiring charity.  
Love from Rose Queen Lucy.

Lucy's story shows just how much a small group of individuals can achieve, particularly when one passionate and dedicated individual drives the team forwards. We at EducAid find it genuinely inspiring that a community will pull together to support children many thousands of miles away. We congratulate and thank you, Mellor, for all of your great work. Your generous fundraising and donations will go to an undeniably great cause: creating a brighter future for young people in Sierra Leone, and we will ensure that it is used in the most efficient and effective way possible.

If you know someone who would like to get involved with EducAid, in a fundraising or volunteering capacity, please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can contact Farah by clicking here, or for any support in existing fundraisers please contact Marcus here.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

After Ebola: Sillah’s Journey to EducAid

The World Bank identifies “orphans and vulnerable children” as a group requiring special consideration and intervention to protect them from a high likelihood of “negative outcomes.” These children “are more exposed to risks than their peers” and “most likely to fall through the cracks of regular programs.” These are the children that experience “loss of their education, morbidity, and malnutrition, at higher rates than do their peers.”

Sometimes, catastrophic events push large numbers of children very suddenly into this high-risk group. One such event was the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

And Sillah was one of those children.

At the beginning of the 2014 summer holidays, Sillah made the hour and a half journey by road to return home from his school. He was looking forward to a pleasant summer with his family. But soon after he arrived, the Sierra Leonean government declared a three-day lockdown.

Sillah’s father, a pharmacist with a good career that enabled him to pay the school fees for his son’s education, was asked to volunteer. Eager to help, he agreed to be a “sensitization” volunteer – someone who would provide information about the virus and limiting the spread of disease to members of the local community.

When he arrived at the center to begin volunteering, it was immediately clear that manpower was urgently needed for a different, more difficult and dangerous job – burials. Wanting to help anywhere he could, Sillah’s father joined the burial team and was tasked with collecting and carrying bodies from their final resting place to the gravesites. Typical of early-response health services during the epidemic, he was not provided with adequate training. Nor was he given proper protective gear to use while handling infected bodies.

Almost inevitably, he fell ill within a few days.

Sillah took his father to the hospital and two days later the entire family was quarantined – Sillah, his mother, his 12 year-old brother, and his three sisters (16 years, 10 years, and 19 months old) were all restricted to their home for 21 days – the maximum window of time for incubation of the virus ( If they were infected, they would show symptoms within those first 21 days and be transferred to a hospital for treatment. So they began to wait.

On the 17th day, the entire family began showing symptoms of the dreaded disease. They were taken to a hospital and crowded into an already over-taxed, under-resourced care center.

Only Sillah and his mother managed to survive.

Reeling from the loss of four siblings and one of his parents, Sillah was also worried about his future. Without his father’s income, he would not be able to continue his education. The disease, which had already taken so much from him, was going to take his future as well.

Fortunately, a journalist told Sillah about EducAid Sierra Leone, a system of schools run by World of Children Honoree Miriam Mason-Sesay. He pointed Sillah in the right direction and recommended he get in touch.

EducAid welcomed Sillah with open arms and he moved to the school in December. When he arrived, he was still very emotional, grieving his many losses. But he settled in as well as he could and began the process of resuming his studies.

Miriam immediately noted that, “he is generally amazingly cheerful and threw himself into being part of things: football, wood collecting, learning, cooking, whatever it was.” While it appeared that his previous school had provided poor mathematics lessons, he jumped into the subject and began tackling it with enthusiasm. “He has a quiet confidence,” Miriam said. “He will do well.”

Though a merciless epidemic caused Sillah unfathomable loss and thrust him into a “category” that made him likely to have negative future outcomes, EducAid was there to stop his falling through the cracks. This is truly what it means to protect children. World of Children Award is honored to support and stand with Miriam, EducAid, and all of their donors and community in protecting children – today by providing a safe place to stay and for the future, by providing the education they will need to survive and thrive.

Donate today to help protect more children worldwide:

Read more about Miriam’s 2015 World of Education Award:

Learn more about EducAid by visiting their website:

This blog post is part of the World of Children Award Child Protection Blog Carnival. The Blog Carnival pulls together stories that represent the global breadth and depth of thinking and on-the-ground work that we and our fellow World of Children Award Honoree organizations are providing to protect children.

Visit the Blog Carnival to read stories from fellow Honoree programs protecting children from child-trafficking, abuse, neglect, and the vulnerabilities associated with being poor, orphaned, or disabled in countries as widespread as Colombia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Mexico, India, Ukraine, and Haiti.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sew for Sierra Leone: Joan Keeps Going

Back in April we wrote about the ladies from District 9 of the Inner Wheels Club. They had hand-made over 400 sleeping bags that eventually contributed to the largest shipment of donations that we’ve ever sent to Sierra Leone. This is what I wrote at the time:

“Great fun was had by the ladies from Inner Wheel Clubs. From all across District 9, UK (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) they got together to ‘Sew for Sierra Leone’ on 26th February. They were busy creating over 400 cotton sleeping bags, requested by Miriam for the youngsters at EducAid’s schools and Interim Care Centres.

Friendship and service are key elements of membership in Inner Wheel, a worldwide service organisation for women, and this event provided an ideal opportunity for both. There was plenty of chat and large quantities of tea were consumed as ladies gave their time to sort, cut, stitch, iron and pack for EducAid!”

It seems as though one of those ladies never stopped – Joan has gone on to create a huge number more. This inspirational and committed woman has managed to find an unlimited source of cotton, and must’ve been working non-stop since 26th February. When Miriam went to visit her on 17th October, Joan had made another 125 sleeping bags, and she is on the case to make many more before the container leaves London for Sierra Leone in December. What a tremendous achievement! Thank you so much Joan, our youngsters will be so grateful! Thank you to Ernie, Joan's husband, for all the help and support you must’ve given during the time – it all counts!

This is another incredible story of how our committe community helps us to provide a comfortable and caring home for our youngsters.

You can read more about the shipment coming to Sierra Leone here. If you would like to contribute, you can find out what items we are trying to collect for the shipment in that same post. If you would like to discuss contributing something else, please do get in touch by sending an e-mail to this address, and we can discuss how best to support you.

If you have not watched our new video, you can do so on the homepage of our website or on facebook. Please do share this post and the video to help spread our message.

EducAid – Learning for Life in Sierra Leone

Thursday, October 29, 2015

EducAid Community Working Together: Lloyd Igunbor & Carolyne Beckett

Lloyd Igunbor – one of Miriam’s past students from Salesian College, Battersea – has spent the past couple of months organising and packing a container full of donations destined for Freetown. He has been travelling around the country picking up donated items from collection centres – usually friends and family of the charity – in preparation for the final shipping date in December. As you can imagine, this is no small feat, so he has asked Miriam to spread the word to help drive some high quality donations to ensure that the container is full of things the schools really need.

Whilst working in one of the Ebola testing labs in Sierra Leone last year, Carolyne Beckett met Miriam through one of Miriam’s old schools friends, Julia Yelloly, who was on the same team. She visited two of EducAid’s sites, and was introduced to some of our wonderful students. Upon her return, Carolyne felt compelled to assist EducAid in any way she could. Earlier this month, Carolyne started to organise a fundraising drive on Facebook to help fill up the container. Based in Bristol, Carolyne has asked all of her friends and family to donate what they can from the area, which will then be transported down to Lloyd’s collection centre in West London.

Here is Carolyne’s facebook post:

As this shows, EducAid relies heavily on the generosity of our donors. Our students are always extraordinarily happy to receive new clothing. Many of you will know that we do not make our students wear uniforms, but we do insist that their clothes are clean and in decent repair – we are at school at the end of the day!! – so these donations really do help our students in this matter.

If you are able to contribute anything to this wonderful fundraising effort from two of our community, you can contact Farah here and she will send you in the right direction. For those living close to Bristol you should coordinate with Carolyne, and for those living in the London area you should coordinate with Lloyd. Just for the sake of clarity, here is the list of essential items:

  • Second-hand clothes and shoes (esp. flip flops/crocs) ages 3-adult.
  • Boys and girls underwear
  • Black shoes (a requirement to take exams) ages 11-adult.
  • Books - non Euro-centric (i.e. not full of skateboards and microwaves etc) e.g. fantasy/factual/thought-provoking
  • Educational resources esp. children's encyclopaedias, dictionaries, 
  • thesauruses
  • Blank CDs and DVDs (for recording lessons for remote teaching)
  • Old laptops (2010+ software please)
  • Old microscopes and other resources for teaching at secondary level
  • Sharable hardwearing toys e.g. Balls (deflated) and treats

As if organising this donation drive wasn’t enough, Carolyne is also doing a fun run in November then to prepare for the Filthy Girl Mud Run. If you are able to sponsor her directly for her run, you can do so from this link.

Carolyne sums up her post like this:
"Any money or gifts donated will go directly into helping the children. EducAid is a corruption-free zone whose trustees cover any administrative costs.
Come on Facebook let's make a difference!!"

Thank you very much both Carolyne and Lloyd for your amazing work in bringing this together. Without the committed efforts from the EducAid community we would not be half as strong as we are!

If you have not watched our new video, you can do so on the homepage of our website or on facebook. Please do share this post and the video to help spread our message.

EducAid – Learning for Life in Sierra Leone