Thursday, February 13, 2014

Justice? Equality? What are they? Haven't seen any round here for a while!!!

The war is surely not over but we have just won a minor victory. After 1 week of battling with the family we have finally managed to secure the safety of one of our girls: victim of an attempted rape assault.  How extraordinary to find the father of the girl trying to do a deal to get the boy freed!!!
The girl was put under pressure to change her story and then carried off to a village and hidden so she couldn't give her statement in court. When we pointed out to the girl's mother that this was sacrificing the girl's future and education she managed to get her back so we could take her to a safe place where she can continue her schooling.  The boy's family started again and managed to persuade her again not to let the girl go back to school.  In the end, the mother has accepted to have her daughter protected but she is clearly terrified of the family repercussions.
Unhelpfully, the police keep telling the boy's family that what they need to do is persuade me to drop the case!!!  I was in Kabala when the assault occurred, 3 hours away.  I did not take the case to the police.  I do not control the Sierra Leonean law! The law should take its course and the protection of the girl should be paramount.  It isn't.  There is no clear thinking in her family, among the police or in the community in general.

We are a long, long way from justice and equality for women in Sierra Leone.

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

Patrick Horn in EducAid

Patrick Horn is a regular visitor to and supporter of EducAid.  He was with us at the end of last year and here is his write up in his own words in the Parbold Church newsletter:

I spent three and a half weeks living in three of the EducAid Schools in Sierra Leone during October / November, 2013. Whilst there I worked with staff of four schools on developing their extended writing skills, and spent most of the time working with the staff and learners in the Womens’ Projects. I was able to work with the girls on both their English and Maths; it is humbling to see how keen they are to learn.
Each of the EducAid Schools has a Womens’ Project. The Projects have been created to enable older girls, who have missed education during the early part of their lives, but who have joined Educaid as older students, to
learn to read and write in English and to develop Mathematical knowledge to the degree that they can
thrive in the main school and continue a ‘normal’ education. It is amazing that most of the learners already speak their local language, then speak Krio, the language used throughout Sierra Leone, and then are taught in English. Some of the learners tried to teach me Krio, and that brought home to be how difficult it is to learn another language, and to be able to teach and learn in another language is a great credit to the teachers and learners in the EducAid Schools.

I was able to introduce a Phonics programme to both staff and learners, and I am currently working, at a distance and through emails, with the staff to produce a system whereby the progress of learners may be recorded, and successful teaching practice replicated. The Phonics programme was bought with the support of Oxford University Press, who gave a considerable discount on the purchase. This enabled me to have enough materials to support four of the schools. The problem remains that when the girls are able to read, there are insufficient books for them to read, and this will be my next project, subject to Miriam’s approval, of course. Miriam is, as you will remember, the country Director of EducAid, and was awarded the MBE recently - she still speaks to me !!
The number of learners within the EducAid Schools continues to increase. Last year there were 1,500 learners; this year there are 2,000. This raises many issues, not least the funds required to feed all the learners, many of whom live in the schools.

There are many developments at EducAid since my last visit. At one school, Maronka, the roof blew off one of the spaces where the boys sleep, and there is work going on, as funds allow, to build a larger space. In Magbeni School there are fifty girls sleeping in a room originally built for fifteen, and the Headteacher and the staff are busy seeking support from the local community to build an extension. Whilst I was there bricks were being made from sand taken from the river, and donations of cement and food were being made from the nearby villages. They are helping themselves as much as their resources allow, and sometimes beyond.
A very significant development is that the staff of the Maronka school are now organizing and running training courses for teachers of the state schools in Sierra Leone, and in this way, helping to improve the quality of education throughout the country. There are early plans to develop a further education college to continue education to a higher level, and to introduce more creativity into the learning and individual development. Nothing stands still in EducAid !
Everyone at EducAid made me so welcome during my visit, and are keen to learn about England and I was able to tell them a little about Parbold. They are all very appreciative of the support given by people in England and strive to make the very best use of all they are given.
I met one teacher in Magbeni School who started as a student then returned as a teacher. He is paid very little, and works in challenging circumstances. He was offered a post in a Government Department at five times his EducAid salary, but he told me that he did not take the post as he ‘wanted to work in EducAid to repay what EducAid had given him, and to help create better opportunities for everyone in Sierra Leone’. Absolutely amazing.
I have photographs and videos I made during my two visits to EducAid in Sierra Leone, and would be pleased to show them to anyone interested.
Pat Horn

Thanks for everything, Pat!

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

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Rebecca running in Reading for EducAid

Dr Rebecca Horn has been visiting and supporting EducAid for many years, the last time being in summer 2013 when she came to work with a team of staff and students to set up our Monitoring and Evaluation systems.  When I say summer, I do mean deep rainy season August of course, though!
This time, Rebecca has her running shoes on on our behalf.  She is running a half marathon in Reading in early March and can be sponsored for EducAid on this link:

Please do support her efforts for EducAid.
Every penny makes a difference but for example.........
£15 covers all education and food costs for 1 person for 1 month.
£180 covers all costs for 1 year.
£150 covers average costs for 1 teacher for 1 month.
£25 buys a 50kg bag of rice.

Whatever you are able to contribute, we promise to put to good use.  We are still in the very unusual position to be able to promise that the Trustees cover all UK overheads so everything you donate will go to the project and make a difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people in the world.

Thank you Rebecca for this new initiative and thank you all who sponsor her!

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