ORPHANS LEAD THE WAY
The Blood Diamonds war of Sierra Leone was infamous for child soldiers and horrific violence. It not only destroyed so much of the country, but also traumatized the population. The United Methodist Church founded an orphanage to protect children during the War. Ending up there unplanned, I met orphan youth with vision and hope waiting to be actualized. Seeking to empower one of the orphan youth with an ambitious dream, some friends and I funded and organized the construction of homes for widows in his remote village. When I went to see the houses, I brought the CRC youth with me to run a VBS for the illiterate children of the village. Knowing these kids were missing opportunity, the youth challenged us to educate them. Starting with the education of five village children, YVA was born.
Although we have fixed wells, opened a solar powered health center and helped protect the area from the Ebola epidemic, we have come to focus on empowering youth through education and God’s hope and compassion. Our original scholarship program with the five children has developed into a comprehensive leadership and character development mission utilizing church community and weekly American mentor sessions. Our primary school has triggered amazing, un-looked for progress in attitudes towards girls education and in our focus on creative confidence through the arts. Hoping to spread and share our work we brought a team of six Americans in 2016 and seven in 2017, holding medical clinics and school programs for the arts and English literacy. At the request of the Muslim villagers, we started a church and in an amazingly courageous commitment, our board member Reverend Enid Benjamin spent five months in the village to encourage the church and the school. Always though, we’ve been led and inspired by youth…their judgment, their vision, their ideas. Many of the orphans I met years ago have worked for us and now comprise our staff.
Young Vision Africa has always been about the vision of young Africans.
Our mission is to empower young leaders in Sierra Leone to fulfill their dreams of helping and changing their country. We would never make a pretense to be successful in this without the Grace of God, which we seek to submit to. In our small room where our five high school boys grow, in our crowded one room schoolhouse, through our young adult orphan employees, through the commitment of weekly US mentors and volunteers who break barriers by traveling to the ‘below third world’ of the Salone bush, we believe in humility, spontaneity and the future!
We are also a tremendous opportunity for any American looking to give to something hardcore, real and effective. If you realize that you have a responsibility to help those in need, then you need to join us.
Meet our team that makes it possible.
Alan’s been an educator who’s led mission/service work in homeless communities in Manhattan, the Cheyenne River reservation, Appalachia, and New Jersey. He went to Sierra Leone alone in 2009 to see the country and volunteer with different development efforts for children and youth.
Alan travels to Sierra Leone periodically to bring Americans to participate in YVA’s work, observe completed projects, and create/enhance new initiatives in conjunction with our beneficiaries and YVA interns.
Some of our Sierra Leone Staff
Abu Bakarr J.
Abu grew up a war orphan in Salone. Having completed certificates in higher education, Abu joined the YVA family to facilitate communication between students and sponsors. Abu finds joy in his work, “ because whenever I look at the faces of the kids that are sponsored by Young Vision Africa I always praise God for his goodness. I hope through the grace of God to see these kids with good future.”
Intern Head Teacher Tato School/Church Pastor
Our lead teacher at Tato Primary, Saidu displays amazing intelligence, versatility and commitment while living in rural Sierra Leone. Working with children and adults, educating, encouraging and telling their stories, Saidu is the complete picture.
Intern Early Childhood Teacher/ Asst. Pastor
Princess is a born educator – naturally animated, creative and engaging. Besides that she’s fully committed to the work of the school. She also serves as our worship leader and Asst. Pastor at our church, setting an example for our younger girls of an independent, self sufficient young woman.
Intern Assistant Head Teacher
Malikie, teaching 2nd grade, has been serving the school since the beginning with sincerity, humility and reliability.
Katumu has taught 1st grade for two years.
New to Tato, Kon comes on as the 3rd grade teacher. Like most of our other staff, he is attending Teacher Certification classes through Freetown Teachers College (Distance Program).
Our newest teacher, working in Grade 1
Reverend Enid Brotherson Benjamin
Reverend Enid has an amazing story of Providence in finding Sierra Leone and YVA. From Guyana, South America Enid has committed herself to YVA’s future, taking an amazing role in our April ’16 trip and blazing the trail of staying long term in rural Sierra Leone for 5 months in ’17.
Megan Gabon Chan
Megan is a registered nurse in New Jersey. She heard Alan speak at Ramapo University and started promoting and working for YVA even before anyone knew it. As secretary, she is incredibly efficient and dedicated, and exemplifies the hope and faith that YVA seeks to spread in Africa.
Regina is an all around YVA bastion, coordinating volunteers, recording our dispersements and improving our social media. She has a Master of Arts in Political Science from California State University, Northridge with a focus on International Relations and Comparative Politics.
Roy is currently serving in the U.S. Military. Roy has always displayed an interest in philanthropy and mentorship. Traveling throughout the world to include places such as: Israel, Hong Kong, Scotland, Malaysia and Bahrain. Roy has taken the opportunity to help wherever he could with community relations to improve the quality of life for those who are in need. Roy has earned a certificate in counseling and computers and is continuing lifelong learning studying accounting. Roy was exposed to the YVA family through his lifelong friendship with Alan
Lloyd came on our trip team in April, shooting the student movie, taking great portraits and making quick personal connections with the kids everywhere. Now Lloyd manages our Instagram page daily and brings his open and giving spirit to the YVA leadership.