Friday, October 30, 2015

Sew for Sierra Leone: Joan Keeps Going

Back in April we wrote about the ladies from District 9 of the Inner Wheels Club. They had hand-made over 400 sleeping bags that eventually contributed to the largest shipment of donations that we’ve ever sent to Sierra Leone. This is what I wrote at the time:

“Great fun was had by the ladies from Inner Wheel Clubs. From all across District 9, UK (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) they got together to ‘Sew for Sierra Leone’ on 26th February. They were busy creating over 400 cotton sleeping bags, requested by Miriam for the youngsters at EducAid’s schools and Interim Care Centres.

Friendship and service are key elements of membership in Inner Wheel, a worldwide service organisation for women, and this event provided an ideal opportunity for both. There was plenty of chat and large quantities of tea were consumed as ladies gave their time to sort, cut, stitch, iron and pack for EducAid!”

It seems as though one of those ladies never stopped – Joan has gone on to create a huge number more. This inspirational and committed woman has managed to find an unlimited source of cotton, and must’ve been working non-stop since 26th February. When Miriam went to visit her on 17th October, Joan had made another 125 sleeping bags, and she is on the case to make many more before the container leaves London for Sierra Leone in December. What a tremendous achievement! Thank you so much Joan, our youngsters will be so grateful! Thank you to Ernie, Joan's husband, for all the help and support you must’ve given during the time – it all counts!

This is another incredible story of how our committe community helps us to provide a comfortable and caring home for our youngsters.

You can read more about the shipment coming to Sierra Leone here. If you would like to contribute, you can find out what items we are trying to collect for the shipment in that same post. If you would like to discuss contributing something else, please do get in touch by sending an e-mail to this address, and we can discuss how best to support you.

If you have not watched our new video, you can do so on the homepage of our website or on facebook. Please do share this post and the video to help spread our message.

EducAid – Learning for Life in Sierra Leone

Thursday, October 29, 2015

EducAid Community Working Together: Lloyd Igunbor & Carolyne Beckett

Lloyd Igunbor – one of Miriam’s past students from Salesian College, Battersea – has spent the past couple of months organising and packing a container full of donations destined for Freetown. He has been travelling around the country picking up donated items from collection centres – usually friends and family of the charity – in preparation for the final shipping date in December. As you can imagine, this is no small feat, so he has asked Miriam to spread the word to help drive some high quality donations to ensure that the container is full of things the schools really need.

Whilst working in one of the Ebola testing labs in Sierra Leone last year, Carolyne Beckett met Miriam through one of Miriam’s old schools friends, Julia Yelloly, who was on the same team. She visited two of EducAid’s sites, and was introduced to some of our wonderful students. Upon her return, Carolyne felt compelled to assist EducAid in any way she could. Earlier this month, Carolyne started to organise a fundraising drive on Facebook to help fill up the container. Based in Bristol, Carolyne has asked all of her friends and family to donate what they can from the area, which will then be transported down to Lloyd’s collection centre in West London.

Here is Carolyne’s facebook post:

As this shows, EducAid relies heavily on the generosity of our donors. Our students are always extraordinarily happy to receive new clothing. Many of you will know that we do not make our students wear uniforms, but we do insist that their clothes are clean and in decent repair – we are at school at the end of the day!! – so these donations really do help our students in this matter.

If you are able to contribute anything to this wonderful fundraising effort from two of our community, you can contact Farah here and she will send you in the right direction. For those living close to Bristol you should coordinate with Carolyne, and for those living in the London area you should coordinate with Lloyd. Just for the sake of clarity, here is the list of essential items:

  • Second-hand clothes and shoes (esp. flip flops/crocs) ages 3-adult.
  • Boys and girls underwear
  • Black shoes (a requirement to take exams) ages 11-adult.
  • Books - non Euro-centric (i.e. not full of skateboards and microwaves etc) e.g. fantasy/factual/thought-provoking
  • Educational resources esp. children's encyclopaedias, dictionaries, 
  • thesauruses
  • Blank CDs and DVDs (for recording lessons for remote teaching)
  • Old laptops (2010+ software please)
  • Old microscopes and other resources for teaching at secondary level
  • Sharable hardwearing toys e.g. Balls (deflated) and treats

As if organising this donation drive wasn’t enough, Carolyne is also doing a fun run in November then to prepare for the Filthy Girl Mud Run. If you are able to sponsor her directly for her run, you can do so from this link.

Carolyne sums up her post like this:
"Any money or gifts donated will go directly into helping the children. EducAid is a corruption-free zone whose trustees cover any administrative costs.
Come on Facebook let's make a difference!!"

Thank you very much both Carolyne and Lloyd for your amazing work in bringing this together. Without the committed efforts from the EducAid community we would not be half as strong as we are!

If you have not watched our new video, you can do so on the homepage of our website or on facebook. Please do share this post and the video to help spread our message.

EducAid – Learning for Life in Sierra Leone

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Miriam Presents Medals to 820 Naval Air Squadron

Members of the 820 Naval Air Squadron invited Miriam Mason-Sesay to their Operational Medal Ceremony at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose last week. Not only were Miriam and her son, Kofi, in attendance, but Miriam was invited to present the medals to the serving officers. The 820 Squadron had been deployed on the RFA Argus to Sierra Leone for 6 months during the Ebola outbreak.

Commander Ross Spooner said that “personnel from 820 were tasked at very short notice to a place that was, at the time, full of uncertainty and fear.”

The fear of the deployment was encapsulated in a facebook post by one of the deployed men’s partner:

“As you all probably know by now my husband is on board RFA Argus which is in Sierra Leone dealing with the Ebola crisis.
We are all feeling pretty helpless back home here especially as we get to hear some of the stuff not reported on the news.
The lads on the ship are all working really hard in challenging conditions working 8 hours on 8 hours off with no set date for their return.”

820’s mission in Sierra Leone was to assist with the logistical operation in combatting the spread of Ebola. Assisted by 3 Merlin helicopters, the Squadron was able to reach several parts of Sierra Leone that were simply too difficult for supplies to reach by ground. Among their expeditions, the Squadron came across some of our students who quickly invited them to have a look at our schools.

Struck by the plight of youngsters during flights into Port Loko, one of the worst-affected towns in Sierra Leone, Petty Officer Diccon Griffith decided that the ship was able to further help the fight against Ebola.

“Each and every face I saw seemed so happy that we were there, many of them quoting the slogan that is seen stickered on many of the UN vehicles out here – togeder, we de fet Ebola – together we will fight Ebola.”

Lead by Diccon Griffith, members of the Squadron decided to undertake a sponsored charity row in support of some of the children that they had been responding to – we were incredibly touched when the Squadron contacted us to let us know that they would like to donate the money raised to EducAid schools.

In addition to the substantial amount of money raised, and unbeknownst to the charity, the crew had been co-ordinating a fundraising drive in the UK for essential daily items. When the Merlin arrived a few days before Christmas the children were elated. When they saw Santa and some elves jump off it, they were ecstatic. The crew delivered over 300kg of clothes, washing materials, and dried foodstuffs to EducAid. Bearing in mind the travel restrictions in place, many of these items were absolutely critical to the on-going health and happiness of the students.

The generosity of the women and men aboard the RFA Argus is hard to overstate. Not only were these courageous people putting their lives on the line for another nation, but they were so committed to genuinely helping the cause that they gave their own possessions, time, and money to help EducAid bring Sierra Leone one step closer to eradicating Ebola.

We are forever in your debt, 820 Squadron, and you will be forever in our minds.

If you would like to read the BBC News article, please follow this link:

Monday, October 5, 2015

World of Children Education Award Winner: Miriam Mason-Sesay

This month, Miriam Mason-Sesay was bestowed an honour that few are worthy of. The World of Children award is an extremely prestigious and unique organisation that scours the plantet each year for the most effective change-makers for children worldwide, thus improving the lives of the most vulnerable.

The World of Children describes itself as an organisation that, since 1998, has invested $7 million in cash grants and programme support to more than 100 Honorees. They estimate that they have touched the lives of 30,000,000 children around the world, with those children being rescued, rehabilitated, educated, given counselling, and receiving urgent medical care.

The World of Children was founded by Harry and Kay Leibowitz. In 1996, Harry had a vision for World of Children when he was recovering from cancer surgery at age 55. Watching the Pulitzer Prize announcements on TV, he noted that while there was a Pulitzer for art and literature, and a Nobel for the sciences and peace, and an Oscar for films, there were no awards for those who were tirelessly serving children in need.

That realisation was a catalyst for Harry, and he subsequently founded World of Children with vital support from Starr Commonwealth. Harry then pledged to dedicate the rest of his life to creating a prestigious awards program, to support social change makers helping children in need around the world.

Harry Leibowitz believes that you don’t have to be Bill Gates to make a difference. All you need is a genuine desire to help. As Harry puts it:

"One little hand by one little hand by one little heart, we will fulfil that sacred duty given to us by our forbearers—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—for every child we can reach."

The World of Children say that each of the 2015 Honorees has created life-changing programmes that benefit children in countries around the world. They are working on a wide range of issues, including homelessness, teen pregnancy, and life-threatening medical issues.

At this year’s Awards Ceremony, World of Children Award will present the first ever Education Award. Asked about the decision to add an Education Award to the program, Leibowitz shared that the Board of Governors recognises education as a key component of elevating young people out of poverty, out of trouble, out of dependency, and on to a better life. He pointed out that 60 million children worldwide do not receive even basic education and that, in view of the magnitude of the issue and the large number of education-related nominations the organisation receives each year, it was vital to establish an education award category.

It is without a doubt a huge honour for Miriam to win this award, but one that we are sure you’ll agree that she wholly deserves. Miriam will be travelling to New York City next month to receive her award, and the event will provide the platform for Miriam to raise awareness and funding to continue the growth of our charity.

Congratulations to Miriam, and to the whole EducAid organisation without whom the high-quality impact would not be delivered. International recognition significantly helps those that are involved at EducAid to keep doing what they are doing, but it will not take our focus from what really needs to be achieved: the sustainable and holistic education of vulnerable children in order to raise them out of poverty, and to create a prosperous and corruption-free Sierra Leone.

If you would like to read more about the World of Children Award, or indeed other winners, you can find our more on their website: