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


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 www.educaid.org.uk or www.sierraleonegirls@blogspot.com

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:

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

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

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



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