Monday, July 23, 2012

Ann Beatty, the torch bearer

Ann conducting family literacy classes in Maronka.
Ann Beatty, long term supporter and volunteer with EducAid is helping ensure we participate in the Olympic fever at least a little bit.
Nominated for her generous work with EducAid and in particular for setting up the Girls' Safe House in Maronka, instead of pursuing her original plan of swanning off to Latin America to sip cocktails on a beach somewhere (who could possibly have chosen that over the opportunity to work for love in service free Maronka!), Ann is a little nervous about her run tomorrow.
We want to add our voices to the many who will be cheering her on at 11:53 a.m. as she runs through West London and wish her all the very very best and at the same time thank her for all her love, generosity and hard work on our behalf.

(Official photos to follow!)

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

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Balla making EducAid's name in Venezuela

Balla playing football for his university.

A year or so ago, Balla Turay, EducAid past pupil, took up his scholarship to study ICT in Venezuela and has clearly been making his (and our) name since.  I was touched to receive this mail today:

Hi Miriam,

Attached are my grades for this semester which ended on Friday the 20/7/12 and I´m on holidays presently. 

I want to say much thanks to the EducAid staff and family as a whole for the great role they played in my life. 
All the achievements I´m making now are because of the holistic education I got from EducAid.

I will like to make it known to all that EducAid is not only the best in Sierra Leone but it´s one of best in the world.
The HOD for science was curious to know who is this Balla Turay at the University. I was called to his office on the 19th in order for him to interview me personally. He asked me to tell him the high school I went and what the educational system is like. After explaining to him about the EducAid holistic system he said “I don´t think there is any high school in Venezuela that covers a lot like your school.  Congratulations for your scores.  We are really happy to have you as a student here.” 

Words cannot really express how sorry I was to hear the death of the boy in Magbeni my condolences to his family and EducAid as a whole.


Love from Balla

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

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Independence Powers Development

So often the development world seems to be very disempowering because the money and therefore the agendas and goals are driven and dictated by foreigners. True sustainable development must surely step away from this dependence. This is why we so strongly believe in education as a tool for real development. With a thinking education, nobody can tell what the seeds that are sown will grow into. We can hope and wonder but there can be no exact foretelling.
It is therefore very exciting to be able to talk about just that..... a group of the young staff, almost all of whom are past EducAid students, have come together to form a club they are calling IPoD: Independence Powers Development.
The members get together to train and play football on Saturday and have a good time but have not stopped there.  They came to me this week with a list of all the things they have seen around the Lumley school that need doing before the new term and they want to take the responsibility for doing them: repainting the gates and railings, re-screeding the middle floor, repainting the blackboards and so on. Their plan is to unite to solve problems first within the school and then extend out into the community.  Fantastic!  Very encouraging attitudes and a real hope for independent development that will last beyond foreign interventions.

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

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Osman Kamara: RIP

Hope and development on the one hand versus poverty and death on the other!
Osman Kamara, student of Magbeni, died yesterday.  A bright young mind who was to join the exam class next year, he died on Saturday probably of malaria although no-one really knows exactly.

It has been over a year since we last lost a student but if we needed another reminder of why we fight the fight we fight, here it is.

In the UK if a school child dies, the whole school comes to a standstill.  The family does not know how to cope.  In Sierra Leone, it is regarded as sad but commonplace.  People die daily of nothing and everything without the doctors and medical practitioners being able to intervene meaningfully.  For the privileged in this country of course there are enormous differences.  If you are ill, you go to the best hospitals or as likely as not, out of the country for your treatment and you may well live into old age.  Amongst the poor, the elderly are significant rareties!  The president’s mother died at a ripe old age last week and is buried today with the whole country in attendance with great pomp and circumstance.  This in stark contrast to Osman who was buried under a tree wrapped in a cloth, having not made it out of his teens.

May we never tire of fighting for the education of the poor so we know how to maintain our own health better, so we know what to ask of the doctors and how to hold them to account and so that we can earn a living and afford decent nutrition and medical care.

Our condolences go to Osman’s family and friends in the Magbeni community.

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

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Essential skills acquisition.

Talking it through together with the Maronka kids.

Anyone for a wash?

Neesha and Kate have been getting stuck in to life in Maronka but have also enjoyed their friendships with the young teachers they have been working alongside.
One thing that has struck them has been the differences between their own training and the distance training course the majority of the young Maronka teachers are doing.
At the moment, the Maronka teachers are not only preparing for their final residential in the summer and exams in October but also writing up their dissertations.  Here are some of Kate and Neesha's thoughts on the dissertations they have read:

During our time at EducAid, we have had the pleasure of working with a group of dedicated teachers. Alongside their hard work in the classroom a number of staff have juggled the responsibilities of training college and writing a dissertation (a difficult task, as we know too well.)
At this point, we would like to thank Agnes, Cobra and Issa for sharing their work with us.  Each has selected powerful and emotive topics for discussion such as early marriage, FGM and Encouraging patriotism in youth.
Reading and supporting the group in their work has not only opened our eyes to poignant issues in the community but also made us appreciate so much more the opportunities we have had in UK completing our own degrees.  The three have committed themselves to writing informative and thought provoking assignments.  In doing so, they have been faced with challenges such as limited access to computers and appropriate literature, internet through mobile phones including the expense of credit as well as time restrictions.  However, the work produced has been powerful enough to bring us to tears, particularly Agnes’ work on female circumcision whilst Cobra and Issa have been discussing insightful and sensitive issues and delivering inspirational outlooks for the future. 
We would like to finish by commending all the young staff at EducAid Maronka for their continual hard work whether in exams, studying or facing the challenge of writing a dissertation.  It has been a pleasure to work with these learners in their journey as well as experience our own.
Best wishes Kate and Neesha

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kate and Neesha and the 'Rights R Us' Club

Enjoying the rain - Yes, it's rainy season

What? Chocolate? ooooh!

Who needs a washing machine anyway?

D*** mosquitoes!
Kate and Neesha, fresh out of teacher training college in Lincoln, arrived in Sierra Leone three weeks ago and have been having fun, despite some of the culture shocks they also experienced!
They have done some great work especially with the early years classes, working with Cobra and his team.
From our point of view, it is always good to have our work validated by people who know what they are talking about.  This is what they have to say about the 'Rights R Us' club.

Reflecting on our time in Maronka, EducAid, we have found the schools’ strengths lie in their ethos for teaching children about their rights and responsibilities.  This stems from cobra and his team’s passion for supporting children to think independently and recognise the role they have in their futures and that of Sierra Leone. 
This is developed in a number of ways, ranging from discussions in assemblies, work in class, extra curricular activities such as drama and Cobra’s group Rights R Us.  This group in particular stands out as they produce plays with poignant messages that highlight significant topics in their community and raise adult issues like child trafficking, slavery and FGM.  Watching the children’s performances demonstrated to us, how mature the children’s understanding is on such sensitive topics. 
Relating the productions to educational practice in the UK and other areas the subjects discussed may seem emotionally challenging for such a young age group however, the issues raised are an important part of Sierra Leone’s life, therefore drama provides an effective means for discussion provoking thoughts leading to awareness of their own rights and responsibilities.
Subsequently, the drama is effective, inspirational practice which we intend to continue in our own classrooms so that our children in the UK can develop and understand their roles in the classroom and the wider world to the same level.
Keep up the great work.
All the best Kate and Neesha

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

Monday, July 2, 2012

What next?

I am asked often about what our students go on to after school.  
I firmly believe that whether or not there is definite employment for them, education in itself has great value and keeps doors open but it is a real concern!
As many of our youngsters as we reasonably can, we take on as junior staff when they finish their own senior secondary studies.  In that role, they mature greatly while they put back into a system that has helped them.  We also try and see if we can link them to potential donors who can support their studies at tertiary level.
This too is a challenge.  We are struggling to fund our core activities and are already making difficult choices about who we feed, how much and how often and so on.  We can't afford to distract our loyal donors from core funding and so we go in circles!
We have a super group of youngsters right now who have just finished their senior secondary exams.  A number are taking up key support positions as junior staff within EducAid and we will be looking around to see about ways of helping them forwards.  
Last year, one group got together and started, with support from Swithun and others, a small printing and book making enterprise.  Some of them actually have formal sponsors but others in the group have not.  They have currently put aside enough money to help a couple of their colleagues with their college fees.  I am delighted at this communal spirit and really proud of their desire to support each other.
There is some talk of helping some of this year's leavers take micro-finance loans from a recognised lender, in order to start mini enterprises which they can use to help those who do not have formal sponsors.  
We are looking at internships with some of the up and coming businesses that are starting to be established.  We are keeping our eyes open for anything we think might help these young people keep moving forwards.
If, as you read this, you have any bright ideas as to how we might be able to source sponsorship for tertiary courses for some underprivileged bright responsible young Sierra Leoneans, please feel free to pass the ideas on to us : )

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