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 www.educaid.org.uk and www.sierraleonegirls.blogspot.com