The Sierra Leone Education Project
Every Child Deserves an Education…. Regardless of Where They Were Born
This project is to adopt the Ihsan Community Primary and Secondary Schools located in Calabatown, Freetown Sierra Leone. We will rehabilitate the schools with proper seating, and provide 258 children ranging from age 5 to teens with daily meals, school supplies, uniforms and hope, inshaAllah.
SIERRA LEONE IS OFTEN RANKED *THE * POOREST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD
Sierra Leone is a small West African country of 5 million that for YEARS as ranked as the world’s poorest country. After slowly rebounding from a horrendous civil war caused in large part by the blood diamond industry, an already economically deprived Sierra Leone was struck by a deadly Ebola epidemic that claimed the lives of thousands and left thousands more children orphans and alone. The people who live in this school area of upper Mayenkineh road are extremely poor and the families of these children break rocks as a source of income. Not all of the children in this area get the privilege of going to school, and of those who are lucky to go, many reach the school hungry, without shoes, clean uniforms and lack school supplies. It’s a terrible situation that no child should have to endure.
(The children carry water to the school from long distances)
WE BEGAN 12 YEARS AGO WITH A SMALL SCHOLARSHIP FUND FOR BORA & SENTU
This project is inspired by two girls, Bora and Sentu. Now teens, I met them 12 years ago while working in Sierra Leone as the African Program Coordinator for a Muslim Development Agency. Every day, these girls would sit outside of our office in downtown Freetown and peel and sell oranges. From morning till evening. EVERYDAY. I remember them laughing so hard when trying to teach me the delicate art of orange peeling and as much as I enjoyed our time together, I couldn’t shake the fact that they were here selling oranges instead of learning in school. It was sad and it was wrong. Here were two beautiful, smart, caring children who were not benefiting from a solid education. What was their future going to entail?
After talking to my family, we decided to start a scholarship fund for Bora and Sentu. But first, we had to convince their family to let them attend. Girls are valuable and those oranges they were selling were contributing to the household. No oranges, No money. Luckily their families agreed and they were able to go to school. For 12 years, we continued to support their education. The pictures we received revealed the smiles, the pride and the hope Bora and Sentu felt. Our goal is to now provide that same opportunity for other children.
(Young girl carrying a tray of oranges in Sierra Leone)
EBOLA MADE A BAD SITUATION EVEN WORSE
Ebola killed thousands of people and made life a living hell for all. To gain control of the health crisis, the entire country was on lock-down and schools were closed for almost an entire year. Can you imagine?!?
We get upset here when the kids have too many snow days or when a half day interrupts our schedule. I mean my 4 year old might cry when he gets an Avengers instead of Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtle folder. These kids in Sierra Leone were out for MONTHS and MONTHS! Life as they knew it ceased to exist.
The government tried to conduct school through the radio, but that wasn’t an appropriate situation. But Sierra Leone is a place of resiliency. Founded by people enslaved in America and sent back to Africa, the entire spirit of the land is one of YOU WILL NOT KEEP ME DOWN. It is this place that teaches forgiveness (look up the history of the civil war and blood diamonds). It teaches to SMILE even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
(BBC. Young Sierra Leonean student learning via radio)
Education is critical for breaking the cycle of poverty.
Studies show that education can reduce poverty. Given our many blessings, we have a duty to help uplift the world’s most vulnerable people and help to create a life for themselves and future generations. Our goal is to purchase school supplies and uniforms for the children of the Ihsan Community Schools and to properly furnish as many classrooms as we can through this project.
Ihsan Community School stats:
250 students: 100 in Secondary School; 150 in Primary
65% are girls which is unheard of!!!
We want to go from this…
WE HAVE A STRONG TEAM ON THE GROUND
No development work can be successful without a dynamic team on the ground.
HAJJA MINIATU KONNEH – former president of the Federation of Muslim Women in Sierra Leone, former country director for Life for Relief and Development Salone, and a revered educator is the manager of our funds. It’s Hajja on the ground running to schools to pay fees and going to the markets to buy the supplies.
SAEED KAMARA – Saeed has worked around development projects since he was a child. His father started the Ihsan Community Schools through meager resources and struggles to continue to survive. It is Saeed who provided the pictures of the school and will continue to update us on progress.
ALLAH GAVE SO THAT WE MAY SHARE. WE NEED YOU.
I pray for all of you who donate to this cause. We pray that your investment in these young children is returned to you tenfold. Not only monetarily, but in the establishment of positive communities of people worldwide. We pray that our investment returns solid individuals who are able to support themselves and in turn help the next person who comes behind them. We pray to the Creator and sustainer who has spread out enough resources in this earth, enough for EVERYONE to eat, live freely and be well, we pray that we as humans learn to share, to care and to spread what we have been given for the betterment of all. May you all be increased in health, wealth, wisdom and peace.
WHY I AM DOING THIS (MY STORY)
I took my first trip to Sierra Leone in 2003, just shortly after the civil war ended. It being my first time to West Africa, I was both elated and stunned at what I found. Sierra Leone had such beauty, but also such poverty. Though financially poor, the people were happy, they were spiritual, and they were GOOD souled. I ingested all the good I could and learned to apply that spirit of resilience to my own way of life. Now, I am an international publisher, global cultures consultant and sometimes headwrapologist based in Michigan. Though with 3 small children I am no longer able to work on the ground, I will always, with Allah’s permission, continue to support the upliftment of people throughout the world through what Allah has given me and my community. I thank you for being a part of this project!
(me in the middle back between Bora and Sentu, the two girls we initiated this program.)