Wednesday, December 25, 2013

One beautiful smile less this Christmas - HipHop RIP

Saidu, always known as HipHop, for his easy ways and lack of fuss about anything - the little one who could sleep balanced on a bench or curled in a corner - had the most beautiful smile and was the sort of child everyone just wanted to take home with them; everyone except his family that is!  He had a very difficult childhood being passed backwards and forwards between indifferent relations and when he arrived in EducAid never left again.  He quietly got on with life and smiled his beautiful smile at nearly everything that happened.  The big dark spot that remained was the extreme pain he suffered when a sickle cell crisis attacked him.  He faced these with courage however and indeed they had seemed to diminish a little recently.  One of the causes of the crises is cold, so he and another sickle cell sufferer slept out of the way of the drafts, in the library, in general.  2 years ago, HipHop woke to find his co-sufferer dead by his side.  It cannot have been easy to know it could just as well have been him!  Today though, it was his turn.  The only student to have remained in Freetown for the holidays avoiding the up-country harmattan cold and winds, he had been staying with the Sesay family in the school compound and was taken in the early hours to the nearby hospital when a fiercer than usual crisis attacked.  There was nothing that could be done for him there and shortly after, he died.  Yet another terrible loss to the EducAid family and what an awful start to Christmas.
Our prayers are with him and all the EducAid family as we move forwards without him but in his name and the name of all those we have lost this year, we commit to ensuring that we use our lives that have been spared, as well as we possibly can to bring positive change in Sierra Leone and wherever we find ourselves.
If you wish to know more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Sunday, December 22, 2013

EducAid 2013-2014

2013 had some very hard things happen.  We have lost a number of students.  Their young lives were cut short before time and their families have lost the hope that they brought to them and we have lost their gifts from our midst too.  They have gone and we are left.  Let the light that went with them not be lost altogether.  Let us carry that light for them.  As we go forwards, let us remember that we have an even greater responsibility to use our gifts and carry on the fight for them as well as for ourselves.

Some have had disappointments and not been promoted or moved forward in our lives at a time when they wanted it and have had to learn the virtue of patience.  Many have learned to be proud of their decisions to wait and to use the time well.

We have also had some fantastic successes:

100% in the NPSE and the BECE (as usual – fantastic achievement by staff and students and representing a lot of work!)

Over 150 teachers trained through the QEP and QEPM, having an impact on the education of nearly 9000 children!

8 out of 8 applicants to the African Gifted Foundation Summer Academy were invited to Ghana and had a wonderful time in Accra.

6 out of 12 places offered went to EducAid girls for the GoWoman mentoring breakfast in Freetown.

3 Slow Farms started under Carrick’s management but with the great hard work of many many staff and students.

A wonderful EducAidian Professionals Conference was held where 100+ past pupils committed themselves to counter culture values of integrity and resistance to corruption.

Together, in 2014 and indeed going forward, we believe we can build on all these achievements and we have the potential for an amazing future.  

The Sierra Leone we are targeting is a strong Sierra Leone with a healthy population: healthy in spirit, mind and body – resistant to corruption, providing good health and education services to its people, leading the way in sustainable independent development and technology.  This is a Sierra Leone, where there will no longer be a great difference in wealth between the rich and the poor; a Sierra Leone where some are willing to come down a notch or two in order for the wealth to be shared more equally to everyone; a Sierra Leone, where every Sierra Leonean is a brother or sister with equal chances to achieve and equal responsibility to give.

In EducAid we want to learn to educate and be educated in order to make this real.  We want to use our education to disrupt injustice and inequality, as much as possible.  We invite each member of staff and each student to see the gaining of their own education not as a means for them to leave the group of the oppressed and become one of the oppressors but to help the oppressed rise up with them and to hold the oppressors to account.  If one person alone succeeds, they fail.  If someone succeeds while bringing others with them, that is true success.  Let us rise but let us maintain our compassion.  Let us see our education as a means to change not only our own personal situation but that of our communities and indeed of the country as a whole.  If we can maintain our motto of Love, we are powerful.  If we forget love, we will use our education to be better crooks, liars and thieves.  In that case, it would be better that there was no EducAid! 

We have the opportunity to do something very exciting if we work together and pursue excellence in our academic studies as well as in our service and love of one another. 

We call all EducAidians to use this time of Christmas to choose to love; to love powerfully and courageously. 

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Magbeni - Such very very hard news!

Last week we were celebrating Magbeni's fantastic achievement in the recent public exams.  This week we are in mourning.  Kadija (17) and Aminata (16) were playing in the river while doing their laundry and were caught by the currents.  Jumping from a nearby boat and playing in a river they have known since they were small girls, these two students lost their lives when they lost footing and misjudged the strength of the water.  A classmate saw them and went to call for help but was too late. Familiarity with the river seems to have made them take its power too lightly and despite rules about not swimming in the river, their paddling got out of hand.
The village and the school mourn their loss. We have all committed to hold even higher the light, knowing that as they can no longer carry their own, we must carry ours for them as well as for ourselves.

Our prayers are especially with their families.

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Public exams - 100% success AGAIN!

Once again, all EducAid's Junior Secondary Schools had 100% pass rates in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Countrywide, the standards are consistently closer to 40% pass rates.  With some of the poorest and most vulnerable young people in the country, EducAid achieves very very different results.

Magbeni came top of the EducAid stakes and this photo shows, Abu Koroma, Language Arts teacher, who had the best results, proving his right to his prize bag of rice by lifting it up (50kg of rice - that's a lot of rice an it's heavy!)

Fantastic job, as ever, by staff and students in all locations.  With this attitude and effort, we will make a difference in Sierra Leone. We will!

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

Widad Worneh, new Coordinator for Pastoral Care and Behaviour Management, is getting stuck into her role.  A key part of EducAid's positive behaviour management strategy is the peer mediator system.  Students are trained on each site to mediate in situations where students have got themselves in trouble.

The training focuses on listening skills, empathy, being a role model, mediating and conflict resolution.  Being a peer mediator has a high status in the schools and the team plays a vital role in addressing issues of poor behaviour and conflict student to student and even between students and teachers.

Well done Widad on an excellent initiative.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Isatu Kanu RIP

Another full on day in EducAid, with its great ups and terrible downs. 

Today we have heard that Jimiyke Koroma has completed his anti-TB treatment and one very lucky young man has come through after being very close to death with TB throughout his brain and body. 

On the same day, we have heard that, completely out of the blue, Isatu Kanu, student at the Rogbere School and sickle cell patient, has got up this morning and dropped dead from unknown causes on her way to the bathroom. To our knowledge, she was not ill and we will never know more than that. What a terrible loss to the school. What an appalling loss to her parents who today lost their 3rd child! 

For those of you who pray, please pray for the consolation of all those near her.

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

1st EducAidian Professionals Conference - 12th October 2013

Modupe Taylor-Pearce inspiring the young EducAidians
So many good things happening that there is no time to blog about them!

On 12th October, 2013, the EducAid past pupils held their first EducAidian Professionals Conference.

Emmanuel Gaima leading the conference
in drawing up the Charter
The event was organised by Haja Gbla, Fatmata Romalieu Barrie, Yahyah Kamara and Ibrahim Bai Bundu - all past pupils themselves.  Haja is now doing her distance Higher Teachers' Certificate and teaches in the Women's Project in Lumley and Freetown Central Prison.  Fatmata is teaching in the Women's Project in Lumley and pursuing her ACCA studies.  Yahyah and Ibrahim are studying accounting in the same class and they both help out at the Lumley school.

They did a fantastic job, the event was well attended and participants were enthusiastic about the opportunity to get together and to reaffirm their principles.

EducAidian Professionals lining up to sign the Charter
The purpose of the conference was to provide an opportunity for the youngsters who leave EducAid enthused and principled, ready to take on corruption and do their bit to change the world to reaffirm this commitment.  It is hard to be the only person resisting corruption in a working place or class.  It is easier, if you have signed a commitment, if you have others supporting you, if you have reminders from other like-minded people as to why you are taking this stance.

Apart from the excitement of seeing friends they had lost sight of for many years, the youngsters were enthused by the appeal from exciting speakers: Harriet Gaima, Ibrahim Tommy and Modupe Taylor-Pearce.  Later, Emmanuel Gaima, facilitated a session when the participants put together their Charter: Vision, Mission, Commitments and Mutual Accountability Mechanisms.

Keen to commit themselves to a life with integrity
We had great media coverage on African Young Voices (AYV radio), SLBC, and Voices of the Diaspora.

Our hope is that, through ventures such as this, we can start to have a significant impact on the country more widely.  We are starting to position ourselves so that we are able to have an impact more broadly in Sierra Leone.

We aim to re-inspire each other to live and work well.  We aim to encourage other likeminded people to believe it is possible and to join forces so that the habits of corruption and greed get left behind.

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Monitoring and Evaluation with Dr Rebecca Horn

Standard practice across all sorts of projects, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is the bane of many project workers lives.  In large part, this is because the dreaded logical framework (logframe) ends up dictating what has to be done, so activities are undertaken because they will satisfy the needs of the M&E strategy rather than because they are good things to do.

EducAid to date, has escaped doing any further self assessment than has been provided for by the public exams and we are very clear they don't measure half of the things we think are important.

I have been so relieved and impressed by the fantastic work done by Rebecca and the team of staff and students she has been working with this last week.  Working up from scratch using stories written by all students of their 'most significant change' since joining EducAid, they evolved 10 objectives and worked out how we could measure them.  They worked hard, debated thoroughly and have evolved something really excellent.

The team presented their work to me on Thursday and were clear and enthusiastic.

We now have a clear structure to help us assess ourselves on all the key criteria we see as important and we will be able to demonstrate to supporters, donors and critics alike exactly how well we are doing on our various goals.

Thank you Rebecca - it would have been completely impossible without you being willing to give us your time and expertise - and thank you to the staff and students who worked with her.

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

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Corruption corruption.... no!.... Integrity Integrity!

Transparency International published their statistics on bribery, this week:
Sierra Leone is head of the league once more.  And this time it is for the highest percentage of the population that has paid bribes for goods and services.  In Sierra Leone 84% of the population has paid a bribe in the last year.

When discussing with people, even intelligent, kind, apparently good people, there seems little clear thinking about what is acceptable and what is not and even less of the possibility of staying clear of corruption as an individual.  It is expected that people will give a little something to smooth their way.  It is expected that you will help your family and friends get jobs when you are in recruitment positions.  It is expected that you will 'use' your position to sort yourself out.  Siaka Stevens' 'Wherever you tie a cow, that is where he will eat' idea is still tying us into habits which are fundamentally corrupt.

The role models for straight forward, upright living with integrity are few and far between.

Parliament Building, Freetown.
At EducAid, we put a lot of time and energy into stressing the importance of integrity, honesty and love.  Our Augustinian motto: 'Love and Do as you will' is used as a frequent reminder. If we love, then we will want to do all the right things.  It is impossible to truly love someone and cheat them or love someone and lie to them.  Our youngsters are very proud of having different values and want to be part of the much needed change in the country.  However, when they get out into the big bad world, the challenges are enormous: lecturers telling them blatantly that they need to pay up if they want to pass; colleagues who treat them as idiots if they are not ready to cooperate with a little cooking of the books; girls who are put under pressure to sleep with their bosses or lecturers in order to progress and so on and so on.
EducAid building, Freetown.  If the inspiration
 for change doesn't come from the political leaders,
maybe we can ensure it comes from the youth leaders.

To support all committed EducAid past pupils, a group of them have decided to run an EducAidian Professionals Integrity Conference in October.  The idea will be to think together about what living and working with integrity looks like; about the real life costs of corruption and most importantly how we can support each other to hold on to the values gained in the EducAid schools but not so easy to find elsewhere.  We will establish a support network and a charter to be signed by the end of the day so we can commit to working well and with integrity and so be part of a revolution in attitudes that is so needed.

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

Monday, June 24, 2013

On and up.....

What a great weekend......

Small group work - thinking through our dreams
for the future of EducAid
It was the second women's weekend, with all the EducAid female staff talking over their progress during the last month, putting together their ideas about how they would hope EducAid will develop over the next 1, 5 and 10 years, role-playing through various decision making, practising public speaking and writing up the 2nd edition of our women led newsletter: EducAid Now etc etc.  It was not only great fun but also really inspiring and moving to hear the women's successes in implementing their resolutions made last time and how passionate they are about helping the young women in their neighbourhoods and now in their classes.
Getting some inspiration from Ginger in Chicken Run :)
Writing up the articles to go into the 2nd edition of
EducAid Now!

At the same time, the Maronka kids were participating in an inter-schools quiz. Six schools, including one junior secondary school, assembled in Maronka for two days.  At the end, Maronka had correctly answered all its questions and achieved an overall score of 50, leaving the other schools standing - the nearest competitor got a score of 35.  It was great to have our methods and approaches validated and for the children themselves to see how well they perform in comparison with others.  Some people might try and belittle us, on occasions, calling us a 'poor man school' but they can't beat our education.  The children from the other schools all looked fine in their uniforms but their performance did not live up to appearances.  Our children were all dressed in their best and shining and they performed with confidence, speaking in excellent English and answering accurately.  Staff and students were just delighted and they came away loaded with prizes.
The winning Maronka team, after their evening revision session.
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to and

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Haja Gbla supporting female inmates in the Freetown Central Prison

Haja and another teaching colleague
EducAid has been contracted for several years to provide literacy and numeracy classes for the female inmates of four prisons.  

Haja, one of our young past pupils, teaches in the Women's Project, bringing dropout girls back into education.  She is also part of the EducAid AdvocAid team.  She is deceptively slight and dainty.  Behind that smiley gentle exterior is someone really strong.  The female wing of the prison is not for the faint hearted!  It is a tough battle ground for some very hard prison officers and the women inmates. 

You can see Haja is doing an excellent job from the rapport she has with everyone from the women to the prison officers. The women are keen to learn and there is a good balance between quiet learning and happy banter in the class.

At the end of the teaching session, some of the women give their feedback:

"Haja makes me feel loved"
"When I feel discouraged about my case, Haja encourages me to continue."
"I have learned a lot from Haja, I can write my name and read small small."
"I like the English best, in fact I like everything about this class."

There are enormous injustices in the system - the women can be imprisoned for months or years without their case progressing.  Often, the case is nothing more than struggling to repay a debt on time or something equally petty but they and their families are held in limbo and disgrace as evidence of Sierra Leone justice being done.  Thank goodness for AdvocAid and the team of women who provide some positives in the face of the terrible bleakness they experience.

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

Young song writer sings out against violence against women

My name is Bernice Bangura.  I am  in my  20s. I live at 9 Hill Cut
Road. I used to attend Government Model Sec School. I came to EducAid  due to
lack of financial support from my family. They would not help me go to school.  I suppose it is not a priority because I am a girl but I really want to go to school.
I am originally from Bo, a town in the South East of Sierra Leone where all my family members are residing. I'm presently staying with my elder brother's friend. 
My hobby is music.

This is the song I wrote against violence against women:

All the students in Lumley learned the song.  It has been part of our campaign to ensure our schools are all Human Rights Friendly environments.  We are seeking accreditation as Human Rights Friendly Schools from Amnesty International.

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

Friday, June 7, 2013

Hannah and Bev climb Mt Kilimanjaro for EducAid

In their own words:
We met playing hockey for the same team in our local town. 
We have been talking about it for a while and have finally booked it, Bev is the more adventurous one of the two of us as she has already climbed Machu Picchu. We both went travelling through different parts of the world in August 2012, Bev to South America and I went to Australasia. We have both since gotten the bug for travelling and seeing the world! Trekking and camping isn't something we have done before so we thought it would be a challenge and something that would test us both physically and mentally. But we wanted to do it for a reason and so that is why we have decided to support EducAid. Miriam Mason-Sesay was formerly a teacher at my secondary school in England and from time to time she would come and talk to us about the amazing work that she is a part of in Sierra Leone and I have always wanted to help out in some way so we thought this was the perfect opportunity to raise money and awareness for the charity! 
We are climbing Kilimanjaro on 17th July 2013, only a few weeks away now!! We have heard all the horror stories of altitude sickness and the obstacles we may face but non the less we are off to climb the tallest mountain in Africa with a smile on our faces!! 
We have brought the gear and are all ready to go......with jelly babies at hand to help us on the trek up!! 
We are climbing Kilimanjaro not only as a personal challenge but also in support of EducAid and all its amazing work. 
This is the link to our just giving page: 

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Women's Project Success Story

Abibatu and Mabinty, the Women's Project teachers in Rogbere, are passionate about getting girls back into education.  Both of them have stories to tell of their owndifficulties but have come through strong and in a great position to help their younger 'sisters'.

The Women's Project, EducAid's catch up education programme for secondary age girls who have not achieved secondary academic standard, is a special class attached to each secondary school.  It provides an efficient route for girls back into education who would otherwise have no other option but to go back and sit next to the seven year olds if they want to get back into school.

Abibatu and Mabinty started the year with over 70 girls in their WP class.  On Friday, the last 18 were promoted out of the WP and into the mainstream secondary classes.  It was an excited group of girls that underwent their orientation session on Monday morning and a very proud pair of teachers that set off into the community to replenish their empty classroom.

Education for girls is still seen as something of a losers' game in large parts of Sierra Leone and in the North, in particular.  It is wonderful to be part of a change and challenge to these attitudes.
Great job, well done to Abi and Mabinty.  Keep it up!

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

Amadu S Fofanah (14) RIP

Sierra Leone is a small country the size of Wales on the West African coast, 8th poorest country in the world. What is the face of this poverty?  The lack of justice and the lack of health care!  What is the answer?  Education!

How many times have I said that, when talking to potential supporters of EducAid and people I meet and am explaining our work to and yet, each time we see it again, it hits me like a sand bag. 

Yesterday, Amadu S Fofanah (14) died. 

What did he die of?  Who knows!  Probably malaria. 

Why did he die?  Because he was taken by his family to some quack doctor’s place for endless drips, probably of saline solution and Vitamin B and there was no proper diagnosis or treatment.  Because this guy is not licensed to practice, his body was then sneaked out and taken away for burial. 

Who will ask questions?  Nobody! 

Why did his family take Amadu there?  Because the quack pharmacy guy is also part of the family and he will treat at a reduced rate.  Because there is no free medical care.  Because the nearby government hospital, with only one behind the times doctor, is in fact just as disastrous a place anyway – with guess work, over-priced prescriptions and needless death a daily reality.

If you are ill in Sierra Leone you are in trouble.  Those that survive, do so against horrible odds but the average life expectancy is still in the 40s.

I still believe that education is the answer.  I still believe that the only way the appalling life and death statistics here will change is when there is an educated population, from among whom good, well informed doctors with integrity can emerge and a population that is able to ask intelligent questions about their health, the diagnosis, a proposed treatment and stop blindly believing whatever they are told and a population that knows its responsibilities and demands its rights.

We are fighting and we will continue to fight but before these enormous problems are solved, far too many more Amadus will be lost for no good reason.  Tragic, heart-breaking, unacceptable!  In the name of all those we have lost, we renew our efforts to fight ignorance and pursue informed integrity.

We are angry.  We are devastated.  We are ready to fight on.

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The first EducAid wedding

The first EducAid wedding:  Ezekiel and Mamie are now Mr and Mrs Nonie.
The very smiley Ezekiel is a founder pupil who joined EducAid on 18th September 2000 for the earliest lessons on the back veranda of the rented building EducAid called home for the first 5 years of the school's existence: 105 Regent Road, Malama, Lumley.
When he joined EducAid he had been out of school for 7 years and though he was desperate to finish his education, there had been no way he could, due to the lack of family finance.
After finishing his secondary education, Ezekiel went and served as junior staff in Rolal and Maronka and then went to Milton Margai College to train as a teacher, sponsored by friends of EducAid. When he emerged with his qualifications he joined the full EducAid staff and has served now all over the programme.  For all the right reasons, Ezekiel has risen to become a key member of the Leadership Team where his contribution is invaluable.  With his easy going manner and sunny nature, he is a great mediator.  Wherever there is conflict, disagreement, misunderstanding, Ezekiel's calm, firm voice can be relied on to bring sense to the situation. He is un-tiring in his service to his juniors and someone of whom we are very very proud.
Through nearly all the years that Ezekiel has been in EducAid, there has been a quiet presence by his side.  As time has gone on, Mamie too has started to play a vital role within EducAid, particularly working with the girls.  She is gentle and firm, with a ready laugh and a peaceful sense of herself that the girls love to emulate.

They may be beautiful to look at facially but they are also lovely to watch in terms of how they look after each other.  Couples that role model respect, love, courtesy and integrity so well are not ten a penny.  It is wonderful to have this example at the heart of EducAid.  We are very proud of them.

We wish them much love, much happiness, much courage and strength as they continue their lives together.  We hope that many within EducAid will follow their example.

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

Monday, May 27, 2013

EducAid students selected to go to Ghana

How exciting.......

A number of EducAid students applied for a place on the African Gifted Foundation's summer academy and ALL OF THEM WERE SELECTED.  

This is the letter we received:

African Gifted Foundation Academy Summer 2013 – 21st -27th August, 2013

Following a detailed selection exercise we are very pleased to invite the Educaid Students to the African Gifted Foundation’s Academy, and look forward to welcoming them at The Kofi Anan Centre of Excellence in Accra, Ghana from Wednesday 21st – Tuesday 27th August, 2013. It will be a very fruitful experience for both the student and the Foundation, laying the groundwork for the online learning programme to take place throughout 2013.

Each participant has been selected for their clear potential in the mathematical field and their ability to articulate a powerful vision of Africa’s future. The Academy programme is designed for such gifted children to introduce them to further fascinating concepts.

We have industry experts from two different fields coming to inspire the students and introduce them to mathematical concepts unlikely to have been encountered before. David Cope, from Bletchley Park in England, will focus on codes and cyphers. Simon Roberts, from the UK’s Space Academy, will take classes looking at the role of mathematics in space, specifically exploration, satellites, and mapping.

In addition we have a varied and extensive extra-curricular programme. This will compliment the mathematical modules, while also ensuring that the students enjoy themselves, engage with other young people from across the continent, and learn about Ghana. Activities include a visit to the Volta Aluminium Company, and a chess masterclass by the Chairman of the Ghanain Chess Federation, George Arko-Dadzie................

Accordingly, eight EducAid students will be heading off to Ghana to participate and benefit from this wonderful opportunity.  Congratulations to them all!

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