Thursday, April 26, 2012

Excellent volunteers

EducAid has periodic visits from volunteers who contribute greatly to various aspects of EducAid's life.

Matthew Herridge and Harry Simpson spent the spring term in Sierra Leone, contributing variously to Biology provision in Lumley and Rolal, 'medical services' in Maronka, teaching assistance in the Eagles and Flamingoes classes.

They got stuck in at every level and lived the village life, washing with a bucket and cup in the palm branch wash yard, having a couple of hours of electricity a day (unless the generator is down or fuel runs out!), no vehicle and the nearest cold beers at the end of a very hot dusty 3 mile walk, eating their rice or gari with spicy sauce each day, washing their clothes in the swamp and so on.  That is not so much the challenge.  The challenge is all of that and still having plenty to give.  What makes it possible, of course, is the wonderful warm welcome, the generosity and the enthusiasm for all development that we experience when living in the communities that we work in.

Matt's photos give a flavour for what they were up to:

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gaza - the danger zone!

All in his Sunday best, ready for his interview at the
British High Commission before  his trip to the UK in 2011.
The quiet version!
He's exhausted himself
running up and down the country
and with all the extra maths lessons : )

Gaza is a character.  Looking at him, you would think he was one of the students and indeed when he first joined EducAid, it was very hard to tell the difference at all.
As time has gone on, Gassim Sillah has taken his role as science teacher and now head of the Science Department more and more seriously.  If other members want to book the exam classes for extra sessions, they will have a problem: Gaza will probably have already booked in for extra maths before anyone gets a look in.
It is hard to get good science teachers in Sierra Leone.  Science has long been neglected and Maths more so.  If EducAid gets good maths results and produces competent mathematicians, it is thanks to Gaza.  If we do well in our science exams and have a good number of scientists doing engineering and medicine at university in Sierra Leone and on international scholarships, it is because of Gaza.
Gaza regularly houses youngsters who are promising scientists but have difficult home situations.  He encourages them to study.  He advises them about how to organise themselves and preparing patiently for exams so they can do well.  He is not perfect but he is a wonderful role model.
This week he has finished off the last science practicals, having been chasing all over the country for materials and then to organise both sets of practicals: Rolal and Lumley.

Thanks Gaza for a fantastic job.  If we had more patriotic committed science teachers around like you, it would be a very very good thing for the country.

Keep up the excellent work.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Musa in Russia - update

My dear fellow EducAidians, both past and present.  We are all students of that noble institution far away in Sierra Leone which aims to create hope and confidence in the lives of some of the most vulnerable and war affected children – working for over a period of 12 years so far.
I am grateful that such an opportunity has been given to me too.

To outline the short period I have spent out of my country in a very strange land, the former Soviet Union: Russia…..
After so many ups and downs trying to get my visa and medical tests for a period of almost 7 months, I finally left my country on the 5th of December 2010 to study in Russia with a scholarship awarded to me by the Sierra Leone government through the Ministry of Education and the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for a very good performance in the West African Senior School Examination (WASSCE). The way from Sierra Leone to Russia was hard, as it was only the second time undertaking any journey out of my country. We had to go from Sierra Leone to Ghana and Egypt and finally to Russia. I spent some days along the way, two days in Ghana and a day in Egypt. Arriving in Moscow on the 9th of Dec. At the airport I was at once hit by the weather. It was winter and the atmosphere was unfavorable as I saw every one wrapped in a very thick coat with even their heads covered and no face, just voices. I stood in a corner for a while gazing on how to move, but the way was windy and my feet were almost freezing and my hands were folded around me posing like a policeman. It was then I heard a voice from a distance calling and asking, ''где студенты из сьерра леоне (where are the students from Sierra Leone)'' but I only heard the name Sierra Leone in the message and the caller was black in skin, so I at once knew he was looking for us and I raised my hand for answer. We were taken to the Embassy of Sierra Leone, from the airport to embassy we almost took about 2 and half hours, looking through the windscreen and I can't see anything because the atmosphere was foggy.
I slept in Moscow a day and the following day we were taken to another town south of Moscow to attend high school in a pre-university academy for language course and defending of the certificates we earlier sent to the Russian ministry of education. We spent two days in a train to get to the destination and finally we arrived in the morning in a state called Воронеж (Voronezh in English). We came late according to the rector of the academy, but the following day we started classes.
My first day in class, the situation is hard to describe.  The teacher did not speak any English and all she was able to ask me was ''как тебя зовут (what is your name?)" and Ii was without a word to say and the rest of them went into laughter. Then I was given a textbook full of words and letters with English meanings. The day was horrible and at the end of that day I asked myself what I was doing there.  The answer was simple, recalling a day in EducAid when I was told that ‘Musa, there is nothing you can't do in life as long as you have determination for it and you can apply effort to that.’ This memory gave me courage to say to myself that I can do it no matter what it is. I went to my room and the room was like a refrigerator with no heater and no blanket, then I asked my room mate to help me get a blanket, the guy was from Angola and he can only speak Spanish.  We were the same level in Russian. He then gave me one from his bed and said good bye by waving his hands to me. I had wanted to ask the guy for food but I kept my words till the following day. In the morning he woke me up and said is time for us to go for lessons and I never read the past night the alphabet and the news words, so we went to class with empty stomach. The teacher came again and repeated her question and my friend whispered in ears the answer that I should say '' меня зовут  муса (my name is Musa), she was impressed as that was my second day in class, so I was not asked any other question about the alphabet and the new words.  We took the language class for few months and we were faced with 12 other subjects to add to the language.
I was eager to look among the subjects if there was chemistry and maths, and indeed they were there. That was a happy moment for me I thought. But my mood changed when we entered the first day for chemistry class, I was in the back row of the class and the teacher started asking question as a test but no one knew he was testing people based on the certificates they had submitted. My Ghanaian friends were in the first row and they were unable to understand the questions so they were asked to stand up and it was my time for question. The teacher was so aggressive and I was so confident that I could answer my question and he fired a question at me ''что такое периодеческая химия (what's period chemistry?) and I was left without a word to say but I understood the words  периодеческая and химия and so at once I  knew he was asking for a definition of periodic chemistry.  Thanks to my preparation in EducAid, I was able to draw on the board a row and a period indicating some elements of the periodic table and then he congratulated me but I never did that with the hope I was correct, but having learnt from EducAid that we need to have confidence in whatever we do, so I was saved for that day and Sierra Leone was on the lips of all the teachers. My room was always full of friends from all over Africa and Asia so that we can learn from one another.  But it was difficult to be enthusiastic about learning the Russian grammar called падеж (padesh), as I found it very difficult and hard to understand ….so do all students even to date. We spent about 8 months in the school and we sat to public exams with other schools around the states to enter university for the real course.
We took about 17 modules including the language, and most of us were successful and others were asked to repeat the course or they go back home, but going back was not an option as we all are ambassadors of our various countries and so we asked the students to repeat the course with some encouraging words that they too can make it no matter what may come. We left the school for our various universities, our good friendship became separated by thousands of miles. Some went to Moscow, Saint Peterburg and I and few others remain in the same state as our university is found in the state just few miles away, the Russian State university of Architecture and civil engineering. We started classes the 1st of September 2011 and all students from every part of Europe, Africa and Asia were all expected to attend class that day, with failure you are rusticated from the university.  There I was in my green white and blue in the front line as I was told by the embassy, the Russians don’t play with the first day of school in colleges.  During lectures we foreigners did not understand any thing.  We recopied from friends and the first semester went by.  I was able to pass all my modules including Russian history and Sierra Leonean history.  There I came to understand what it was all about with Mr. Bailay in his history class in EducAid. I now appreciate even more, the holistic system and self-learning skills. I am the only black student in my class.
Students pay for almost every thing with the exception of tuition fees and they are quite expensive.  The weather is horrible and this time winter is still with us. I wear almost 4 layers every day for classes with a thick coat. Snow falls like rain here and almost all the outside windows are covered with snow and ice. Walking around, you should have very good shoes with a very good grip which can create more friction with the snow and yourself or else you find yourself toothless.
We keep on striving to the peak of success to achieve those dreams long kept for our nation and our families and the world as a whole.  I am very grateful and I will be always be grateful to this noble institution for giving such hopeful confidence in life and I will always remember to pay respect to my alma mater, THE EDUCAID SCHOOL.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Marie McHugh on the run!

Marie McHugh, Dr in the making and long term supporter of EducAid, is undertaking a half ironwoman for EducAid and here she is in training!
Please do support her:

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