Monday, December 19, 2011

Easy Fundraising

If you follow this link, you can raise money for free by doing your online shopping through this link.  Please do, it is very quick and easy to do and EducAid benefits from every online penny you spend.

Thank you.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Drs Rebecca Horn and Sean Higgins complete the first round of research skills training

Big smiles for the end of the first course.
The new Rolal Teacher Training and Resource centre is in action.  There are a couple of things to finish off in terms of plastering and fixing doors and windows but the centre is usable as is.  It is a wonderful airy space which will be used by many teachers over the months and years to come. 

It was great to see the new space in use by the Research Skills trainees.  A mixture of staff and students were trained by Rebecca and Sean in some very active research skills for two excitable weeks.  There are two more weeks of putting the new knowledge into practice to produce some research reports about some key educational issues relevant to the Port Loko area and indeed to EducAid's work.  

Rebecca is now writing up the handbook that will make it possible for the staff to pass on the training to other groups for which there is much enthusiasm!

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Surprising she only lost her voice!

With Jane's enthusiastic leaping about and charging round the village, with the Sparrows class, we are quite surprised she has only lost her voice!
Jane Harris, criminology lecturer from the UK, has been in Maronka for three weeks and is settling in well.  She left her academic work so that she could 'get her hands dirty' and she is as good as her word.  Nervous that she would not have the requisite skills when she joined forces with ABJ, the sparrows class teacher, to teach the little ones their letters and sound, she has quickly found her feet and realises that she has lots and lots to offer.
Not only has Jane been teaching phonics but has realised that she can do very important work even training them in following instructions and simple following of routines.

A big thank you for all her hard work.  It is greatly appreciated.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Registration of all schools! Yes Yes Yes!

Mabinty, in class 4, will be able to sit the exams under
EducAid Maronka when she gets to the top of the school.
In the early days, I had to try and register some of the schools.  I went to the Ministry of Education zillions of times.  I filled in the forms to have them 'lost' three times.  It was made clear that if I had no little (or big) envelopes for those concerned with doing the stamping and signing, I could forget it.  In fact, I was even threatened with being fined for running illegal schools!  After five years of being treated like a complete idiot because I would not bribe, I eventually had break through when the government changed and the new minister wanted to be seen to be doing good things. I nearly cried when I was handed the exam centre numbers - the evidence of our new legal status.

Recently, we have had to get some further EducAid sites registered.  My heart sank at the likely game playing and time wasting I was to face.  I did waste 1 year hoping that the then Deputy Director of Education for Port Loko was doing what he promised but..........
However, I was given the opportunity, in September, to meet the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Mrs Sia Koroma, when she was travelling through Lungi when I was there meeting somebody and she told me to come back and meet her in her office so she could help me.  She has!  Her little note to the Minister has opened the doors of the ministry and within 1 month of completing our application forms for the registration Rolal Senior Secondary School, Rogbere Junior Secondary School and Maronka Primary School are all registered and have their official legal exam centre status.  The kids will be able to take public exams under their own centres and not be removed to another part of the country.

What an enormous relief!

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young people, please go to and

Easy fundraising

This is for all you online shoppers...... If you register online by clicking on the link below, the Easy Fundraising website will send us a cheque periodically with money that gets generated on the side of all your online purchases.

Please do.  I just did and it takes only moments.  As most of you are aware, things are difficult all across the non-profit sector at the moment.  This is not different for EducAid and recently we have had to cut into some of our core activities in order to keep our heads above water. e.g. We are looking at shortening the school day as of January as we are no longer able to feed the day students. ..... so every bit helps!

If you ever do any online shopping, or even if you think you don't (because you might in the process find it is cheap and easy to do so) please do sign up.  We will be most appreciative and you will definitely be making a difference to our work in Sierra Leone.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Friday, November 11, 2011

Financial crisis

The Global Financial Crisis is kicking in.  Reduced giving means that at the meeting with the EducAid trustees this week, we have been told that all discretionary spending must stop and with immediate effect on my return to Sierra Leone, we must do a staff review and reduce staff and we will have to stop feeding the day students.

This is a very very hard message.  After 11 years of building things up, and at a time when staff and students are doing such a fantastic job, it is very difficult to hear that we must cut back.  If we don't feed the day students, particularly in the provinces, many will drop out.  They will not be able to afford to go to school if they are not fed as they will have to find food elsewhere.  If things are tough in the western world with the financial crisis, they are a lot harder already in Sierra Leone.

If you are a regular donor already and are in a position to increase your donation please consider doing so; if you are not a donor but would like to be one, please go to the donate page of the EducAid website and sign up.  If you know of anyone looking to make a donation where they are sure that their money will make a difference, please put us in touch.  If you know of schools or churches, organisations or clubs that might be prepared to fundraise for EducAid please do introduce us.  If you are in a position to undertake a fundraising event for EducAid, please let us know if there is any information we could supply in order to support you in this.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

One off opportunity - Thank you so much to the Steve Sinnott Foundation

.....ready for lift off!
Something EducAid would never have afforded in a million years!  A trip to the UK for 12 staff was paid for by the Steve Sinnott Foundation.  The staff have spent a week in the Premier Inn at Euston and after a couple of days of sight seeing, got stuck into an intensive course in teacher training.

The idea being that those on the receiving end of this will take back their new found knowledge and use it not only in training EducAid staff but in training teachers from schools around us so we can have a maximum impact on teaching and learning in the area.

We are coming to the end of the most wonderful trip and we are very very appreciative of all those who have made it possible: The Broadhursts for everything from warm coats to stew to lifts to and from the tube to goodbye Christmas dinner for the hoards; all the schools that have welcomed the team so warmly and shared ideas and resources; my long suffering parents for hosting the whole team in Aston-le-Walls; the Steve Sinnott Foundation for paying for everything and exciting the staff with the 1st week of training; numerous friends from Muswell Hill and around for meals and treats and warm clothes and so on and so on.....

We are looking forward to taking back our new found learning and experiences and putting things into practice.  Horizons have been expanded.  Creativity and imagination have been sparked.  Determination has been ignited.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Women's Project girls - exam success encourages the others.

Some of this year's ex-women's project girls who sat and
passed their first round of public exams
along with a couple of their Women's Project teachers. 
It is always a big boost to the confidence of the girls coming up behind them when they see that it is an accomplishable feat!  Each year now more and more past women's project pupils show that it can be done.
When the girls enter the women's project [EducAid's catch up education programme for girls who have had their primary education neglected but who want to enter secondary school] the road ahead can look very long for some.  When they get this sort of example it makes a big difference to their confidence that it can be done.
Well done to this year's exam successes and good luck with the next stage!
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans please go to and

Excellent job done!

Mohamed T Koroma
Key to our positive discipline systems are our merit and demerit cards.  One young man has truly entered into the spirit of the task at hand.  Mohamed T Koroma has completed his merit card with merits before the first half term of the year [and not a single demerit!]
A wonderful effort Mohamed - congratulations.
If you are interested in knowing any more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans please go to and

One happy young man!

Yayah A Kamara
Yayah A Kamara - a quiet smiley member of the junior staff - has not only just won the much prized bag of rice for being the teacher with the best public exam results in this year's BECE but he has also just discovered that his dream will come true.
Yayah studied sciences and got very good results.  He has heard that a friend of EducAid's will pay for his studies in medical school.  Without this assistance such a step would be completely impossible for him.
We now have ex-EducAid students in all the major tertiary institutions in Sierra Leone thanks to friends of EducAid who choose to sponsor some of our bright young things who lack the financial means to achieve their potential unassisted.  We are very grateful for this help.  It is life transforming.
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans please go to and

Friday, October 14, 2011

On our way!

Fantastic news.
After months of planning and hoping and meetings, calls and emails, we got the news today: 13 EducAid staff are on their way to the UK for a wonderful training opportunity.
A couple of years ago, the Steve Sinnott Foundation contacted me about collaborating on development education.
In the end, they decided to offer a training in London to our lead teachers in support of the new teacher training centre in Rolal.
Entirely funded by the SS Foundation,the selected staff will have 1 week being trained in teacher training techniques and another visiting some of our partner schools to see different teaching styles in operation.
Today we got the exciting news that the visas have all been granted and, amazingly, their tickets are still available.
There are some very happy staff going all out to get warm enough clothes to cope with the harsh realities of the UK in November. Action research cycle reports are being completed. The schools having started early on purpose will shut for a 2 week half term except for the exam kids and much more besides.
Kofi and I will be travelling at the same time for our usual fundraising trip and we are all really looking forward to having a fruitful and fun time in the big smoke.
Thanks especially to Sam and all the friends of EducAid who helped compile the documents we needed for the visa applications.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans please go to

Sunday, September 25, 2011

2nd in the country in the senior public exams

Generally speaking, the public exam results have been very disappointing country wide this year.  However, this has once again, not been the case in EducAid.
We have seen student after student come with absolutely excellent grades which opens the doors for their future.
This is a sign of great patience and endurance through very difficult circumstances on the part of the majority of the students as well as much hard work from the staff.
According to the West African Exams Council only one international school was able to beat EducAid but they have refused to name it!
26 students entered the exams and despite a wide range of ability in the group, only 2 have failed to get clear grades for University.  Several got 9 out of 9 credits and above and a number got a stream of merits.
We are very proud of staff and students and hope that this will provide an even greater incentive to those following in their footsteps.
Brima Will receiving his bag of rice for achieving the best results in the school.  Brima teaches Literature in English and no student got less than a credit.
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please see and

Monday, September 19, 2011

Proud of them

I am working this term based in Maronka, a tiny village in the Northern province. Kofi is attending our primary school here too.
The school is run by a number of 'junior staff' i.e. Our past students who are hoping for sponsorship or already under-going distance teacher training.
Although we have junior staff in all locations the Maronka deal is a much more full-on option than all the others. There are over 80 little ones that live with us and the junior staff are in loco parentis for the hoards.
Sumaila Bockarie is the latest addition to the staff. He got 9 credits in the senior public exams last year and is clearly very bright. He hopes to do engineering at Uni if he can find a sponsor (fingers crossed for that).
When I told him he had been placed in Maronka, he was clearly somewhat perturbed. It turns out that he has hardly ever left Freetown previously, never mind live in a tiny remote village with 10 buildings making up its entirety!
I have to admit to being very impressed with his attitude and approach once he had got passed the original gulp moment. He is creative, hard working and committed to his students. I am working particularly with him over the next weeks and am really looking forward to it.
I am increasingly very proud of how these youngsters are willing to use their education for the benefit of those coming up after them. If this attitude continues there is much hope for the future.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's'work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans please go to

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New term

Some real enthusiasm for the new term and some incredibly frustrating casual attitudes born of their experience in the government schools where nobody starts at the beginning and lessons are effective from approximately 2 weeks into term.
So many of the kids are to be found engaged in selling various items. Their parents (guardians) can take weeks to release them.
One day we may break through this and get the guardians to see the need for a change of approach but we certainly have not managed this year. It is also compounded by the fact that the government schools are starting particularly late due to disputes over teachers' salaries.
Meanwhile though there are high levels of motivation among the kids that are in Maronka. I had to kick half the class out today to go and get their lunch, they were so keen to meet the day's challenge and collect their stars.
Kofi is settling in well and I am loving being here albeit feeling a little sorry for myself with a rare bout of malaria :(

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New term

Staff numbers just over 70 now and we are all re-dispersing after a good but exhausting week together of meetings and training.  The 70+ included a good group of our most recent ex-students who are now joining the ranks of the educators.  Great to see!

Term starts on Monday and nearly everything is set.

Good luck for a great year, everyone!

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Issa - in China

Issa - in China - working hard and having a fair amount of fun at the same time, by the looks of things......

Issa is now in his second year of engineering proper - all his studies are now in Chinese!!!!

Keep it up, Issa.  We miss you but we are very proud of your achievements so far - you are a wonderful role model to those coming up behind you.

If you would like to know more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to, and

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

For those who already have everything, why don't you......

.......give them the pleasure of making a difference to someone in need?

When a friend of yours has a birthday or anniversary and you are searching to give them something that they might want when they have any number of nicknacks already, why don't you give a gift off the EducAid Wish List in their name?

There are any number of cool games, books and more that we would love to get our hands on.

By clicking on this link: EducAid Wish List, you will access all the information you need.

When you think of what you hope for, for the little people in your life: your kids, cousins, brothers and sisters and so on, you want the best and it is probably available for them.

Please help us achieve as close as we can to the same thing for the children we work with in Sierra Leone.

Thank you in advance.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans please go to and

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Balla Turay in Caracas

Balla (an EducAid student who received scholarship to study ICT) has been in Venezuela for a month or so now.  He has finally been allowed to get out and about.  At first, they were banned from receiving visitors or phone calls and even from leaving the compound!  Very strange and not a little disquieting.

Now, at last, he has been permitted to go on a tour of Caracas.  Here are some photos to prove it:

Apparently Spanish is going well too!

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Stop jumping up and down like a cricket? Me? Why?

L'École, 5th of 6 children, and the first in his family to go past BECE (the junior public exams), can't contain himself.  His smile is so big, and his laugh so infectious, you can't help but laugh with him. [net too slow for the photo to prove it]
Sheak, a little quieter still can't help chuckling to himself as he re-re-re-reads his results.
They both have passed 9 out of 9 subjects and so excellently that, if sponsors can be found, they will go straight through to tertiary studies.
Both of these lads are from homes with no hope of helping them to finish their education.  With real determination and patience, they have battled on, despite quite difficult odds.  Today is pay back time.
Their fellow students are full of it.  'You see EducAid students!'  'You see how good we are !'

If you would like to know more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Drivers needed

If you are a driver and you are free the 2nd weekend in September, we need you!

We urgently need drivers for the bike ride (see previous post) from Thursday morning to Monday norning.

Please contact URGENTLY

Thank you

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rupert Eastell's involvement with EducAid

Rupert and his daughter Georgie talk with the scientists in Rolal
I have had the privilege of visiting Port Loko 5 times over the past 4 years, and have always left wanting to go back and spend more time there.  The last visit  in April was the longest and the most enjoyable – my son (Tom) and I spent 2 weeks in the country and stayed at Rolal for 1 of them. 

Stefan listens to the 'Virtual palaeontologists'
 at the opening of the Rolal Senior Secondary School
We have great memories of being part of the EducAid family – we sang the school song and played rugby (of sorts) also.  Whilst the food was a bit alien to us, we loved the way that we were welcomed by everyone there: pupils and staff alike.  We want to apologise to Mr SS for being late for the staff briefings though!

We were struck by the potential for moving things forward by focusing on the quality of life for the pupils and the necessity for training the staff.  It is for these reasons that we are really pleased to support the Maronka Safe House and Rolal Teacher Resource Centre over the next 3 years. 

These are great examples of how EducAid can lead the way and we are delighted to stay involved.  We are also hoping to visit again although it may not be until 2012.

Thanks Miriam and everyone at EducAid.

Rupert Eastell

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Are you a cyclist? How about it then!

Sponsored Bicycle Ride from
Hoek van Holland to Brussels via Amsterdam outskirts

8th to 11th September 2011

Proceeds to benefit Educaid, Sierra Leone

The trip will start with all cyclists catching the 18.20 train from London, Liverpool Street station to Harwich on Thursday 8 September and boarding the overnight ferry which departs at 23.15. The ferry will arrive in Hoek van Holland at 07.45. Bikes will be unloaded and cycling will start along the coastal route towards Haarlem and then south towards Gouda (80 - 85miles).

Arrival in Paris after 2 days cycling from London, in June 2007                     
On the second day cyclists will ride along picturesque canal paths catching a glimpse of  Dutch countryside and sampling delicious food. The second day (75 miles) will end close to  Antwerp. The final day will be a short cycle ride (50 miles) into Brussels ending with a celebratory meal before boarding the 17.59 Eurostar arriving in London at 19.03.

Arrival in Brussels after 3 days of cycling in September 2009
A support vehicle will accompany the cyclists throughout the ride as well as a catering vehicle which will carry supplies to sustain cyclists. Phil Magnus and Paul Gage the ‘Bike Mechanics’ will cycle with the group to support any cyclists requiring maintenance for their bikes. All bikes will be transported to Holland in a van which will be loaded on Wednesday evening in Muswell Hill and will return with the bikes to London after the ride. Bikes can be collected from St James on Monday morning.

In order to raise funds for the project we are asking participants to raise a minimum of £1,000 each in sponsorship and to cover their own costs, which are estimated at £300 per person which will include Eurostar tickets, ferry ticket and cabin, two overnight stays as well as food during the ride.   A limited number of places will be available for full-time students who will be asked to fund 3/4 of their costs and to raise a minimum of £500 in sponsorship.

We have 50 spaces booked so need to know by 28 July if you are able to join us!!!

We will arrange for sponsorship donations to be made on-line through Sponsorship forms with gift aid facilities will be available too.

If you would like any further information please speak to Janet Broadhurst who can be contacted on 07956 423 223 or

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and 

Back home in Sweet Salone!

Although I have been coming backwards and forwards, for a week or so at a time, all year, it feels like a great relief to be back without the DRC project in the back of my mind.

Without going into too much detail, my year in the Congo has reconfirmed my confidence that EducAid does quite a good job at getting the balance right on quality of input, value for money, respect for beneficiaries and genuine capacity building.  Apparently harder than you would think.

In truth, there is a mountain of work to do against a fairly tough background but it goes a long way to making it more exciting than daunting, to know that we are almost certain to continue making a significant positive impact on individuals' poverty.  Even more exciting, with the new teacher training and resource centres in Rolal and Maronka, we expect to make a difference to whole communities as we reach out to schools in rural areas that are almost untouched by all the other NGO activities and workshops.

The leadership team have done a wonderful job at keeping things moving forwards and I am really looking forward to getting alongside them again as we bring a number of new projects online: chief among them the Girls' Safe House and the 2 new teacher training and resource centres.  It will be good to be living in Maronka too.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Exciting opportunity

Excited team work - going through the online applications for UK visas
A few months ago, the Steve Sinnott Foundation, [set up by Steve Sinnott's widow in order to continue his work in development education] found EducAid online and became interested.
After a couple of meetings, SSF have worked with a funding agency to propose an exciting training visit for some of EducAid's staff.  The hope is that 12 of the leadership team and middle management will go to the UK at the beginning of November for a week of training and a week of observations in other schools.
This is a wonderful opportunity for them and for EducAid and will enable the concerned staff to come back and really make a difference in our new teacher training centres.
The big hurdle: visas for the UK.  We are collecting documents and trying to outguess all possible blockages.  The systems have got harder and harder [and not any fairer for it!].  One is no longer invited for an interview but has to think ahead of all possible reasons they might want to stop you for and put a document in place to preempt.
Anybody with any legal or immigration know how that would like to give us some advice would be greatly appreciated!
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Balla Turay - patience and integrity win in the end and he is on his way!

Great Excitement as the lads wish Balla safe journey. 
Balla on his way to the airport.....
Goodbyes at Lungi airport.
A life changing journey...... [hopefully the breakdown on the way to the ferry will be the last of the hiccups he has to face!]

Balla Turay, was awarded a grant to go and study ICT in Venezuela in March 2010 [see blog post at the time].  After a ridiculous amount of 'to'ing and 'fro'ing to the ministry of Foreign Affairs, sending of passports, returning of passports, undertaking medical tests, redoing medical tests and so on and so on, when almost all hope had gone that it would ever materialise, Balla is on his way 17 months later.

It is common place for all such offers to go to the rich and well connected and Balla lacked both attributes.  His patience and integrity has paid off today though and he is flying tonight.

Balla comes from a home where finances were such that finishing his secondary education was not going to happen unaided.  It was his hard work, excellent exam results, community service certificate! and determination that have enabled him to break out of the cycle of poverty.  This will change the options he has forever.

Balla will be the 4th EducAidian to travel out of the country on a grant for study: Kema Gondo is in China studying medicine; Issa Fowai is in China studying engineering; Musa Koroma is in Russia studying engineering and Balla will be in Venezuela doing Information and Communication Technology.

We wish him every success in his studies [3 months of Spanish first] and look forward to welcoming him back with all his new found knowledge, skills and vision when he finishes.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Friday, July 15, 2011

Urgent Please - Day Dream Education Products

Today and Every Friday til 3rd September [set a reminder on your phone!].........

Please everyone who is on Facebook or Twitter can you do this so we can get as many of these as possible for the schools:

If you follow this link DayDream Facebook page all you have to do is post on their wall: 'My favourite DayDream is...... ' and enter a day dream product.

If you post this on their Facebook page they will ask you for your details and will post you a free product.  Not sure if it is the product you ask for or if they select one and send it anyway.  Either way, we win!

They have some excellent wall charts, desk charts, interactive software, pocket posters and worksheets.  Nearly all of which are relevant and useful for use in our EducAid schools.  My favourites are the science, maths and English products but..... let's see what we can get.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Oooooh - it's the holidays..........oh no it's not - it's debating training

But....staff and students are joining in with great enthusiasm.
They have taken over the library.
Aruna Bangura of the leadership team underwent training and is now delivering
 sessions on key thinking skills for debating.
Bhumi Purohit, of SLEEP an American based organisation which has been working in partnership with EducAid for some time, is over in Sierra Leone for a few weeks and is using her time to train some staff and students in debating techniques [and in teaching debating techniques].

There is a lot of research showing the fantastic benefits of debate training in terms of thinking and analytical skills as well as behavioural and attitudinal change.  We look forward to those being trained this week and next benefitting from this but also, we plan to role out the opportunity to as many other youngsters as we can during the coming year.

This is what a couple of the youngsters have to say about it, themselves:

'I am enjoying the programme so much because we are exchanging ideas' says Isatu Kamara.

'The thing I enjoyed the most during the training was the interaction and discussion.  I specially liked working in groups,' said Baimba S Kamara.

'I like the fact that I can discuss with the staff too,' says Mohamed E Bangura.

A great opportunity.  Thank you so much Bhumi for the initiative and for so willingly giving your time and expertise.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young people, please go to and

Friday, July 8, 2011

Getting closer to being able to imagine it in action!

The roof is going on to the Rolal Teacher Training Centre and, wow, what a difference it makes!

It is now easy to imagine it in action.  This is going to be a fantastic space where we can bring teachers from other schools in the Port Loko District and thus help raise the quality of education available in more and more communities.

We aim to launch our Quality Enhancement Programme in Rolal for approximately 10 partner schools in November.  There is plenty of work to do still but we are excited.

Thank you to so many who have contributed and continue to contribute to the whole Rolal education project from donors to staff and volunteers.

If you would like to know more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Monday, June 20, 2011

New blog

Girls' Safe House in Maronka - under construction.
To chronicle the ups and downs of all the preparations and day to day functioning of the Girls' Safe House in Maronka, we have set up a new blog:
Have a look and see what you think.
This new project responds to many of the challenges and issues that we have faced before, in particular with regards to women achieving their full potential in education, by seeking to pre-empt so many of the elements of society which threaten women's self esteem and ambition.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dress a girl around the sewing for Maronka

Imagine a world where every girl had at least one dress!

Wow - what beautiful pillow cases!
This is how their website opens. is an organisation with a non denominational Christian foundation with the aim of giving a little bit of value and feeling special and pretty to as many little girls around the world as it can.  They sew pillow cases into dresses.  When I went on the website this evening, they had delivered 31,804 dresses in 47 countries.

Now, Esther's craft group has joined the ranks of the sewing enthusiasts and they are producing beautiful dresses for the girls in Maronka.

It is one of the things that sticks in my mind from when I first went to Maronka, 11 years ago: there were three houses and the children were rag poor.  If a kid had pants, he didn't have a T-shirt and those who had a top did not have pants and a good proportion of the smaller ones had neither.

Over the years, with the ending of the war, the coming of the school and various donations, things have looked up.  Now, most children would have a pair of flip flops [often worn right through underneath but....present] and a handful of clothes even if they don't fit properly and often have great holes in them.  However, pretty things that are the personal property of an individual are very rare events!

This is a lovely project and we are greatly appreciative of Esther and her team!

Thank you all.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans please go to and

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another set of important funding approved - Yes!

Thinking it through!

Bhumi of SLEEP, an organisation based in the United States of America has been battling away at a bid for funding to introduce a debate training programme.

Staff and students will be selected for training in research, analysis, argument construction and presentation following a programme of debate training which has seen significant improvements in many aspects of students' learning in numerous similar projects across the world.

The skills acquired will benefit the actual participants themselves but, also, the idea is that regular sessions will be undertaken with other students in both the senior secondary schools through the rest of the year.

In general, in Sierra Leone, questions, analysis, reflection, the development and ability to defend one's own opinion, are all actively discouraged.  It is clear however, that without these, it is impossible for the population to participate in a genuine democratic process.

We actively encourage these fundamental skills and are very proud of our students in general.  This is a wonderful opportunity for them to build up these aspects and help their peers do so to.

The topic is pertinent too.  They will be discussing women's rights and participation in key institutions in Sierra Leone!  Women are generally not even 2nd class citizens in most of Sierra Leone.  They often come in a lowly 3rd, after their children.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What? Where? Why? When? Maronka Primary teacher training / resource centre

Lots to do!

This morning I received an exciting email..... funding for a new project!


A teacher development facility providing short capacity building courses for teachers without qualifications or whose skill base needs reinforcement.

40% of Sierra Leonean teachers are trained and qualified.  There is a new distance course providing the possibility of training without leaving work.  This course however is not accessible to all because of the cost and also the entry requirements, which many are unable to attain.

Courses can be designed for a variety of needs.  Some examples might include:
·      Once a week [maybe evening] sessions for Port Loko based teachers who need some reinforcement in particular aspects of their subjects
·      A week at a time [hopefully returnees would come for 1 week per term] training in different methodologies [e.g. phonics for literacy, using Bloom’s taxonomy, skills focused teaching etc]

We would expect training courses to be a mixture of:
  • ·      Observation of different methodologies, 
  • ·      Group study, reflection on what has been observed,
  • ·      Opportunities for micro-teaching to try out different things they have learned, be videoed while doing it and then discuss with the group, how the session went.


EducAid has had a primary school in Maronka for over 5 years.
The new teacher training facility would be in the village alongside the primary school.  This will mean that it is conveniently placed for access to the primary school classes for observation and micro-teaching. 
It will be easy to lodge teachers on site as we will include a dormitory facility in the new construction.
Maronka is 2.5 miles away from Port Loko the district capital.
Girls' Safe House under construction at the top of the village
The teacher resource centre would probably be where the photographer was standing or behind the primary school building.
All of the school buildings are at the top end of the village.

View from the girls' safe house looking down into the village.

Provision of free (or low cost – there is a debate to be had about how much people value things that they have paid even a small amount for as opposed to something free), capacity-building opportunities could significantly change the impact of the teachers on their students.  Currently, students arrive in our secondary schools from local primary schools, incapable of independent reading, writing, thinking or learning.  In the NPSE, National Primary School Exams the tests are largely meaningless, as most teachers know their students will not pass and it is totally standard practice for them to stand in the middle and read the multiple choice answers to everyone.  Nationwide, approximately 40% of students entering the BECE (junior secondary exams) pass. Approximately 17% of students entering WASSCE (senior secondary exams) pass.

Generally, students are taught not to think, question or analyse, on pain of being thrown out of the class for insubordination and trying to embarrass the teacher.

Teachers able to teach thinking skills, how to evolve and defend an argument, how to retrieve and evaluate information and so on, without feeling threatened themselves, will have a significant impact on their students and on the future of democracy in Sierra Leone.


The construction will take 3 months approximately and could be started at the end of the rainy season i.e. October or so.
With appropriate recruitment and training of staff to run the programme, we could hope to get started in the spring of 2012.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New girls' quarters in Magbeni

Alice, head girl, has moved in.
A couple of months ago, I gave the go ahead to AA's building project for a new girls and female staff quarters as they were overflowing out of the women's project classroom where they had all been sleeping.
Now, it is already in use by the girls and there is just a ceiling to be added!
Bricks and much of the labour was courtesy of the staff and students. A technician was brought in to ensure the quality of the work, otherwise this was an EducAid Magbeni home grown project.
Fantastic job by all.
Well done!
That was quick!  

AA - lead teacher and chief organiser - Magbeni.
If you want to know more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Maronka Girls Safe House - on its way!

The context
Sierra Leone ranks 100 out 102 on the Social Institutions Gender Index [SIGI] because of statistics like:
·        47 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age are married, divorced or widowed.
·        Between 80 and 90 per cent of women are circumcised.
·        77 per cent of Sierra Leonean women think that gift marriage is acceptable.
·        9.5 per cent of women [20.4 per cent of men] have secondary education or above.
The above statistics add up to an environment where it is extremely hard for any girl to achieve her full potential in any aspect of life and thus overall as a woman.
There is little or nothing in the life of an average little Sierra Leonean girl to make her feel of value.

The aim
The purpose of the Girls Safe House in Maronka is to provide a home in which girls who would otherwise be vulnerable to a wide variety of emotional, mental and physical threats, can grow up strong in spirit, mind and body so they can live their lives to the full and contribute fully to society.

Girls' Safe House under construction - looking over the village. 

Concreting of lintels
Specifically, who will live in the safe house?
Maronka is a tiny village of approximately 20 adults, 2 miles from Port Loko in the north of Sierra Leone.EducAid has a small primary school in Maronka of 180 children, of which 30 + stay in the village but are not originally from there.  15 of them are girls.  There are also a number of girls who walk long distances to come to school each day from the surrounding area.This home will accommodate the 15 little girls who currently live scattered across the village, many of the village girls themselves and will provide the opportunity for many others from distant villages to stay at least during the week.

Little girls like:
Isatu, who we found living on the beach and hungry.  She had run away from a difficult and very deprived home situation and had never been to school.  She had learned to survive on the streets and some of her habits were not great.  Now, she is catching up at school and is a much-loved member of the village community – a changed young woman on the way to being somebody.
Mariama was kitchen skivvy to a family in Freetown; a difficult little miss who did the opposite of everything she was asked to do and got herself a regular beating as a result.  Taken to Maronka to start school, at long last, she is now a delightful little girl responding to love far better than she ever did to violence.  She is nearly always top of her class.

Binta was left to bring herself up at 2 when her mother was sent to prison.  She has clearly been seriously neglected for the best part of her little life.  She had a heart-breaking habit of throwing herself into the arms of all visitors, seeking a bit of love and attention.  She speaks now, though, and is starting to hold her own with her new playmates.


EducAid and Women
EducAid runs the only free secondary schools in Sierra Leone and our target has always been to have an equal number of boys and girls in all our schools.  This proved impossible until we introduced our catch up programme for girls: The Women’s Project.  The WP works with girls of all ages and standards who are beyond primary age but have not effectively finished their primary education.  However long it takes: 2 weeks or 2 years, a girl can stay in the women’s project working on basic skill acquisition until she is competent and confident to enter the mainstream secondary school.
The Women’s Project has been very successful at getting girls into school but we still see a lot of underachievement due to low self esteem, low expectations and social and family pressure.  To address these issues we now have a Girl Power Group, which teaches girls and young women about their rights and seeks to enable them to achieve more completely.
The Girls Safe House aims to address these issues at an even earlier stage and pre-empt the problem before low self-regard is allowed to take root.

Want to help?
We need:
·       Donations – see the Standing Order & Gift Aid Forms incorporated into this brochure
·       Volunteers – strong women to be live in house mothers in the home – see the volunteering pages on the website: or email
·       Materials: nice things to equip the house with; clothes, toiletries, starter kits [see suggestions above] – please contact
     If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to