It started with 5 widows trying to keep their children safe from leaking roofs during the rainy season. While visiting the new homes we built, we were beset by children asking for school…meanwhile in a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates, there was not a clean room to deliver babies…all of this became our work!
These villagers are hearing the truth about Ebola to counter their skepticism and disbelief. The seminars we started running are a drop in the bucket of what’s needed to spread the necessary preventative practices and SAVE LIVES.
Two months ago we put eight solar panels up, powering 4 12-amp batteries and now the village has...
Let's hear it for the GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE! Stocking the medical center so quickly so that Nurse Mariama was ready for her first delivery...
The first report of our new village tutor, Mr. Saidu Massaquooi
Using Health Center solar power Tutor Saidu teaches our middle schoolers from 8 to 10pm.
This is Musu's thank you letter to her sponsor (wishing to be anonymous)
This young guy known as Musa Palm Tree was the standout village volunteer, heading up a list of so many villagers who worked very hard to help with construction and material gathering. Their pride in the center was palpable!
Nurse Mariama outside the Fatmata Health Center with our newest baby
April Trip to Sierra Leone - PART I....Three years is too long since my last visit!
Benmat student Jojo Decker with her familly and the nets bought for them by her sponsor.
The new sinz roof over thi village built home will keep Junissa's extended family safe from the rains for 20 years!
Philip and Afiju (orphan and college grad just hired part time by YVA) reach out. Thank you Alpha Kappa Psi of Ramapo U.!
$700 million US dollars spent on Ebola never touched our remote area of Sierra Leone, where the people originally believed Ebola was a plot by the government. The stories of the sick being taken away by men in suits to never be heard from again only heightened the people’s fears. To an illiterate population without access to any media, the best story wins the narrative.
Long before the actions of the U.S., the villages surrounding Blama Peri were actively protecting themselves, having received lifesaving information on the disease months before. Blama Peri is the center of our rural revitalization and a 6 year relationship including the building of a medical center gave us credibilty.
From the 12 villages served by our health center, we gathered together elders, teachers, and transportation providers (motorcyclists), to be educated on Ebola by our health staff and government representatives. Abdulai Swaray was back home on summer break from college, and he organized the efforts. YVA medical personnel distributed bleach and modeled its use in workshop format.
The truths about Ebola were not only shared, but also understood. The people were educated on the fatal dangers of Ebola, and so the villages implemented a very serious plan that restricted travel and normal visitation. To this day we’ve never heard of anyone else implementing a program like ours. It is nothing short of terrifying to consider what could have happened had we not intervened. The people we taught initially shared the same misconceptions as other communities in West Africa. In this case relationship and trust proved more valuable then millions of dollars.
Our district of Pujehun was the first in all of Sierra Leone to be declared completely Ebola free.
What was the amount we spent on our program? - $1,000!
Relationship and trust proved more valuable then millions of dollars.
A few months after our first visit where we were enlightened by the above statement, we began sponsoring 5 village children to attend the Middle School 5 miles away. A few years later and we have four of these students who attend high school after passing the challenging national exam. One is still in middle school.
We expect to have one middle school graduate and one high school graduate per year on average and we know that these now elite students will need even more help to pay for college. And we also expect that they will graduate and live lives consistent with our mission. They and the recent college grads we already know, are the future of their country and we are moving them towards a future of altruism and outreach
Meanwhile, with most of the small village children without a school to attend, we opened the Tato Primary School in August. About 100 children are learning English and other basics in an open air structure while we continue to fundraise for the school. Everyone in the village is very happy as the school has even drawn children from other villages.
Three hours away the growing city of Bo has more then one section out of reach of established schools. In 2013/14 Reverend Francis Charley spent most of his savings constructing the Benmat K-6 school in one of these newer sections. When he ran out of money his teachers worked on for months with the school future hanging by a thread. At that point we stepped in and raised $12,000 in less then two months in order to back pay the teachers for the whole year and ensure the continuity of the staff and school.
Ebola had discouraged hope for a better future throughout Sierra Leone, but this village has resisted Ebola and its district was the first to be declared Ebola free.
For the children in Sierra Leone, recovering from Ebola and the war will be the challenge of their lifetime, but you can help them begin the process of taking their country back from Ebola, now!ﾠ Having already saved a school in the city of Bo from closing, we have now expanded our own education outreach by starting a new school in this village.
"Nothing's gonna change in that village until you send the kids to school..."
- one of the young leaders that helped us run a camp in the village
When we found Saidu to lead the effort of two hours of tutoring every night, he stepped in with amazing initiative, commitment, ability and communication skills.ﾠ The tutoring sessions were sharp, attendance was consistent and his reports spelled out the needs and accomplishments of his program.ﾠ More than anything else, a good school is defined by good personnel and Saidu was a model of successful instruction in the village.
Parents of the 80 primary aged children in the village have cleared the land for the school and ourﾠfirst 80480 fundraiserﾠhas put us 15% of the way towards a new building. However, knowing that every day is another day of lost education, we decided to start the school in the open air village meeting center.
We were unsure of the results, with so much possible distraction, but the school has been an amazing success that has everyone in the village excited. One proof is that there are now over 100 children attending!
But we still need funds for the new building. Roof, walls, floors, doors, windows, desks, chairs, an outhouse, a well (since the school will be 400 meters from the village), books, uniforms, supplies and most importantly, teachers salaries for the first year, all need to be covered.ﾠ $30,000 will secure all of this, and we are excited, knowing we will raise this money soon!
Children throughout Sierra Leone exist, malnourished on one meal a day or less. And yet so many of them take all their steps on rich fertile and fallow soil. That soil is an untapped resource in Sierra Leone, neglected because so many of it’s rural residents are struggling to live every day. These villagers are sick from parasites in the water, rain coming through their roofs and their inability to make a few dollars to buy more seeds. With a little help, a little motivation and the excitement of great results, all this can change.
YVA’s first community farm has already seen two harvests of Cassava and Peanuts. We are expanding to potatoes and now a food-processing operation sponsored by Ramapo College’s Enactus Organization. This farm is the road to self-sufficiency for these villagers and on both sides of the ocean we’re excited with every growing harvest!
Sierra Leone boasts the 2nd highest first day and first month mortality rate for newborns (2nd to Somalia). It holds the highest rate of death for children under 5 years old. 185 children out of every 1000 will not live to see their 5th birthday.
During Alan's first trip to the village, the women pleaded for a space where they could have hygienic births. It took several years and much support from the Thaakat Foundation, but in the end, the Fatmata Health Center, named after the mother of Abdulai Swaray, was opened. After initially negotiations with the government of Sierra Leone, they gave us full support. The government pays for the attending nurse and for the monthly vaccines. The principle donor organization, the Thaakat foundation partners with us to run the center along with the government of Sierra Leone.
At Fatmata, mothers are educated and given resources to ensure that they have healthy children. The center currently has three rooms, furniture, nursing quarters, a front desk, a waiting area, and an area for storage. Plastered walls and tiled floors make sanitizing easier. The amazing solar energy system brought the first lights and the first refrigerator (for medicine) to the village. To date, 5000 people have been treated and provided healthcare services. Fatmata supports malaria prevention programs, infant and toddler acute malnutrition programs, and general healthcare initiatives for people of all ages.
On the first trip to the village, the people pleaded, “Fix our roofs!” The leaky roofs were causing sickness and death during the cool, rainy season. Within two years, we built four three-family homes for 50 villagers, all possessing 15-year zinc roofs. It was a careful process.
We watched as the villagers pitched in alongside the local construction crew we hired. We finished fundraising just in time to secure the houses before the rainy season occurred, making our first project an adventure! We have since completed homes for 24 families, including widows and children.
It was time to take action when the only well in the village was running brown with rust. Many villagers took water from the nearby stream, which led to health problems from parasites and amoebas. The Sunday School of Trinity United Methodist Church in Highland Park raised $1000 in a week to replace the piping of the well mostly through the production of their music video.
Technicians were hired from the city of Bo to change the piping, and the water problem in Blama Perri was resolved. Young Vision Africa plans to build many wells throughout Sierra Leone and expand its efforts to neighboring countries.