Friday, November 30, 2012

Jimiyke once again

Jimiyke enjoying his food during his UK visit
Many of EducAid's long term supporters will remember Abu Bakarr Koroma (alias Jimiyke).  Jimiyke was kidnapped and taken to fight in the war as a child.  Although so many other youngsters in a similar position fail to emerge from the margins of society, Jimiyke got himself into the EducAid school in Rolal and made a success of his education.  He was extraordinarily determined.  In Sierra Leone, generally Arts students do the Arts and Science students do the Sciences, full stop!  Jimiyke was an Arts student who beat all the Science students in maths.  He never wasted an opportunity.  Just before his senior public exams, he nearly died of TB which was then treated but incompletely, due to the hospital's incompetence.  A year later, he lost the use of his legs because he got a TB spinal abscess because the half treated TB recurred.  Last year he had a son and after a period of ICT training in the UK and Sierra Leone he took an opportunity to start working in telecoms in Ghana.  A few days ago, he started having seizures, his speech was slurring, he was unable to eat and he was struggling to walk again.  Thanks to the intervention of some very kind friends, he is now in hospital in Accra and tests are being done to see exactly what the problem is and he is starting to improve with antibiotics.

He is a courageous young man who has been through an awful lot already.  With support he will surely come through again but this will not be thanks to the Sierra Leonean health system.  TB drugs are free in Sierra Leone and yet fully trained and experienced doctors twice gave him an incomplete course of treatment.  Anyone needing health care in Sierra Leone is really in trouble.  Through the kind offices of a Ghanaian friend who is helping him navigate the Ghanaian system, he has managed to get some treatment but as a foreigner he is in a very vulnerable position still.

We need doctors.  We need compassionate, honest and accountable doctors.

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

EducAid Bicycle Project 2012

This Saturday saw 20 students and teachers attending the village bicycle project workshop here in Rolal at the teacher training centre.  Its been really great working in partnership with the Village Bicycle Project which aims to
  • Bring discounted bikes to regions where bikes have been infrequently used
  • Offer bicycle riding and repair workshops to communities and people in need
  • Provide specialized bike tools and parts to keep bikes rolling
  • Address the special needs of African women and girls
Check out their website for more information

Several of our students walk 4 to 6 hours to get to school each day and having their own bicycle will cut the travelling time by half, so making more time for studying instead!

For teachers it means a cheap way to travel, when they need to for their work and to enable them to do the much needed outreach work in the community and communicate with parents and carers in the surrounding villages.

Both students and teachers were taught simple maintenance and repair skills on their own bicycle and the project also provided a repair kit for the site. Young women and men learning new life changing skills and enjoying it too!!

We had 9 girls on the workshop and one girl said she wished she had learned to ride a bike early on in life as she had been so nervous at first.  She is now riding with confidence but says she will be on the alert for all the pot holes, of which there are many in Port Loko.

We also had one student who joined the workshop with his own bicycle which he thought was beyond repair and Joe and Jak showed him how to repair and transform it, so he is one very happy lad now.

It is good to blow the EducAid trumpet now and then...............Jak the trainer was very impressed with EducAid students and said "we finished the programme early as the EducAid students are very quick to learn and take responsibility for their own learning, it's fantastic really"

Thanks Jak and Joe and we are looking forward to next week when 20 more students, staff and community members from Maronka learn new skills and receive their bicycles.

Remember if you haven't sponsored us already, we rode over 240 miles from Hoek Van Holland to Brussels, how about that!! Its not too late you can sponsor the EducAid bike ride by clicking on this link

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

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Alieu Moinina is off as well....

And another one.....

Alieu Moinina has just been informed that he too is due to be a recipient of a Moroccan scholarship.

Alieu has been with EducAid for his senior secondary education and despite some considerable health issues, he performed excellently in the public exams.

It is great to know that Alpha and Alieu will have each other to support them through the ups and downs of learning a new language, coping with a new culture and pursuing their studies.

The list of EducAid students on international scholarships now goes to 6.

Congratulations to Alieu and we wish him every success in his new adventure.

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

Monday, November 26, 2012

Alpha is off to Morocco

Alpha Bangura (generally known as Archimedes!) has been awarded a scholarship to go to Morocco to study engineering after an initial year of French.

Alpha comes from a small and very poor village near the Magbeni school and did his entire secondary schooling with EducAid.  He and his brothers are the first in the family to ever complete their secondary education although his father is a great enthusiast and has supported their pursuit of learning throughout.

Alpha finished his secondary schooling last year and got exceptional results.  He has been serving as a junior staff in the Magbeni school where he did a great job of preparing the science students for their junior secondary public exams.  A few months ago, he applied through the Ministry of Education for a scholarship opportunity to go to Morocco and after jumping through lots of hoops and making his way through forests of red tape, he has just been told that he was successful.

Alpha joins a small but growing number of EducAid students who on pure merit have gained this exciting opportunity.  Alpha is the fifth EducAid student to gain an international scholarship.  We wish him every success in this new adventure and we know he will continue to make us proud as he goes.

Congratulations Alpha and Good Luck!

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pat Horn's assessment....

Retired UK teachers, Pat Horn and John Young just got back from a three week visit to EducAid.  They spent most of a week each in three sites and lived the whole experience to the full.  

I am sure they will be making the most of their home comforts now after weeks of grass mattresses on the floor, endless spice and rice and no running water apart from the first two days.

This is what Pat had to say about his trip. ......

I have just returned from a three week visiting the EducAid Schools in Sierra Leone.   Whilst there I met Miriam and through her good offices I was able to see, briefly in two instances, all five EducAid Schools.   I was able to stay in Lumley School in Freetown for a couple of nights and was able to call in and see the Rogere School on my way up-country to the other schools.   I was able to stay for a few days at the Magbeni School, the Rolal School and the Maronka School and see, and share in, the work of pupils/students and teachers at each of them.

I found :-

  • clear evidence that Sierra Leone was a country in great need of support and help
  • that if Sierra Leone is the eighth poorest country in the world, the poorer ones must be in really dire straits
  • the country is working to reconstruct and establish an infrastructure after ten years of a brutal, cruel and bloody civil war 
    • the country has just completed (November, 2012) the third general election since the civil war ended some ten years ago ; the campaign was peaceful and we can only hope the result is accepted by all parties
  • the pupils/students were
    • aged from five years to students in their twenties - one student had travelled from Liberia
    • very keen to learn, determined, resourceful, resilient, co-operative, 
    • very hardworking, -  in their academic work and in caring for their environment and each other,
    • very kind and generous to visitors and each other  - they have nothing, but will willingly share it with you,
    • always demonstrating their religious faith 
      • mornings start with prayers at 6.30 am 
    • immensely proud of EducAid, - as they should be !
    • very appreciative of 
      • the work of EducAid
      • the support EducAid receives from countries such as England
    • ambitious for themselves and Sierra Leone,
      • it is well worth remembering that the fine qualities of pupils/students are those promoted so effectively by EducAid 
      • the qualities that the pupils/students take away from EducAid are developed by Educaid rather than the qualities they bring to EducAid - the EducAid pupils/students, like children everywhere, do not arrive with such attitudes and qualities!   
      • the qualities demonstrated by the pupils/students are the result of a great deal of hard work by a great many adults and the older students.
School starts with the pupils/students lining up and singing hymns, and prayers led by pupils/students, followed by The National Anthem and The Oath of Allegiance to Sierra Leone;  all sung and said with an obvious and transparent sincerity

  • the teachers and adult helpers were
    • very committed to their work 
    • very hard working in difficult circumstances and with very limited resources and materials
      • teaching areas are far from ideal
      • furniture is far from ideal 
      • text books and reading materials are in short supply
        • there is a desperate need for materials to teach phonics to enhance literacy as a threshold skill to enable pupils/students to access the subjects of the Sierra Leonean curriculum
    • very caring for all the children in their care

  • EducAid to be
    • very successful whilst working in very difficult circumstances
    • providing education that is far superior to that provided by the state schools, although such schools charge fees that many families cannot meet
    • the only school providing 
      • free education for children - materials and teaching
      • free care to support the education for children
    • very successful in enabling pupils/students to achieve success in National Examinations
      • The National Primary School Certificate of Education
      • The Basic Education School Examination
      • The West African Secondary School Certificate Education
        • EducAid frequently comes top in the list of schools in these Public Examination 
    • in desperate need of additional resources in order to extend their work.

In conclusion I am able to confirm to you and all the generous donors from Christ Church Parbold that 

  • every penny donated goes directly to support the work of EducAid in Sierra Leone 
  • there are no paid employees except those teachers paid in Sierra Leone 
  • EducAid does a fantastic job in providing improved life chances for all the pupils/students attending their Schools
  • EducAid makes no charge to any pupil/student for teaching, accommodation, food, books or clothes
  • EducAid is the most worthy cause I have experienced
  • EducAid is very worthy of continued support

My prime reason for visiting EducAid was to inform myself of the situation there in order that I may be able to inform others here in the United Kingdom of the need for support.   This being so I am looking for uncritical but generous groups that would be willing to hear my personal view of EducAid and any contacts would be welcomed ! I maintained a diary of my visit, and was able to take videos and photographs of life in EducAid and hope to work out how to use these to enable people here to appreciate some elements of life in EducAid, Sierra Leone.    In addition I recorded, in written form the stories from some EducAid students, and I intend to produce these in a booklet for purchase, at a nominal cost (although more generous donations would be appreciated!) as and when I am able to speak to groups.     

Very Best Wishes,


Patrick Horn

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

Difficult news

With great regret, EducAid has excluded a group of students from its school at Rogbere after discovering that they cheated in last summer’s public exams. This has been a very difficult and distressing time for our students, staff and trustees, as it marks the first time that any cheating has been discovered in EducAid’s 12 years of running schools in Sierra Leone. Miriam Mason Sesay, our Country Director, and our trustees have acted quickly and decisively, within a few days of the initial allegations being brought to our attention, to find out the truth and to ensure that the good reputation of our schools and our charity is maintained.
We have agreed with the students, their parents and the community that those who demonstrate their will to put this right will undertake community service around the school that they will assign themselves.  After one term, there will be a review and decisions taken as to who will be granted a place in the Senior Secondary School.  Those who are not willing to make amends will be permanently excluded.
We would like to stress that this misbehaviour on the part of the students in no way reflects on the teaching staff who prepared them for the exam.  These teachers worked with total commitment, giving up their holidays and weekends to ensure that the first exam group sitting from Rogbere were fit for purpose.  They could not have been more distressed by their students' choice.
We have achieved a great deal in all our schools and our results remain among the highest in the country. We continue to work among the most underprivileged students. We think it is essential to take a zero-tolerance attitude towards cheating. The vast majority of our students are a great credit to us, their families and teachers. We cannot afford to invest our donors’ money in students who are not prepared to invest time, energy and effort in achieving results based solely on their own endeavours. We believe it is only through honesty and hard work that our students will make their way in the world successfully.
As an organisation we are committed to working with examiners, students and staff to ensure that this does not happen again.

Miriam Mason Sesay, Country Director
James Boardman, Chairman
Swithun Mason, Treasurer
Mark Wallace, Trustee

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Matt's biology materials

Matt's biology booklets in action - the kids love them
Matthew Herridge, Biochemistry graduate, volunteered with EducAid last year in the spring term with his friend Harry.  He was village doctor, class 4 teacher and Biology tutor.  On his return to the UK, he continued his work on the Biology materials rewrite.  With retired British teacher, Ken Hall, they have turned the kids' experience of biology upside down.  There has been a historic problem with Biology here because the kids just don't believe it is a subject people can pass.  They have this year proved that this is not the case and the kids have done excellently in the WASSCE and Matthew has carried on his support, even badgering his grandparents into funding the printing of his new Biology booklets.
The kids love them and are really confident now that biology is doable!

Thank you Matthew.  Thank you Matthew's grandparents!

We are trying to book him for chemistry in the summer when he finishes his Chemistry PGCE : )

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