A Youth Camp to Remember
Every other year Edunations partners with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Sierra Leone to put on a youth camp for any interested students. On December 16, 2019, 647 students from all six of our EduNations villages flooded into the village of Rokassa for the long-awaited three-day event. Upon arrival, students were registered, introduced to their trained camp counselor, given materials for the camp, and assigned to one of four camp teams – Love, Joy, Peace, or Hope.
Each day of camp started with a quiet time for campers, where they spent time engaging in personal devotions and reflection. Once this time was over, campers and counselors participated in a fun one-mile run/walk to the neighboring village and sang songs the whole way. After freshening up, campers ate breakfast together and then began the day’s activities.
Following breakfast, campers participated in the “Morning Watch,” where they learned about the Bible and engaged in various activities. After a hearty lunch, campers engaged in more fun games and sports and then took part in a Bible study, starting in a large group setting and then breaking off into small groups for further discussion. Campers also had the opportunity to take part in specialized seminars, where they could learn more about specific topics. The days always concluded with a delicious dinner followed by an “Evening Watch” and camp-wide activity.
The evening camp-wide activities are always the most anticipated, as campers take part in competition to earn points for their camp teams and strive to bring prizes back to their villages. The first day’s competition was an eating competition, where a few campers were chosen to compete against one another to see who could eat a big bowl of rice the fastest. Students from Mayatta, Mapainda, and Fintonia took home the prizes for this competition. The following evening was the Bible quizzing competition, where teams competed against each other on their knowledge of the Bible. Campers from Mapainda, Mayatta, and Rokassa took home the prizes for this competition. On the final evening of camp, the most anticipated evening event took place – the singing competition. A choir from each village created a 10-15 minute performance of a song and dance related to the camp theme. Winners of this competition got to take home the sound system to use in their village. This year, Rokassa was the winner, closely followed by Mayatta and Mabum teams.
After the closing ceremony the next morning, it was time for students to head home again. Students said goodbye to their new friends from other villages and left feeling refreshed. We are so thankful to our staff in Sierra Leone who worked hard to make this event happen. Our students are looking forward to the next camp in 2022!
A Wonderful Weekend with Michael Card
Thank you to all of those who came out for EduNations’ Benefit Concert and Conference featuring Michael Card on December 6-7, 2019. Michael provided a beautiful evening of music on Friday, including performances of well-known classics and newer originals. At the end of the evening, Michael gave EduNations’ President, Samuel Sesay, the opportunity to sing an original song he wrote as Michael accompanied him on the piano. The church was flowing with people on Friday evening, with over 500 in attendance!
On Saturday, Michael provided a very engaging and informative time of teaching about the untranslatable Hebrew word, Hesed. There were about 70 in attendance at the conference, and Michael allowed for both large and small group discussion throughout the day. It’s safe to say that everyone walked away feeling blessed at the end of the conference.
Because of those in attendance at the weekend’s events, as well as giving that continued to pour in after the event, EduNations raised over $55,000! This money will go directly to students in Sierra Leone, providing them with free, quality education. On behalf of all of our students, staff, and board members, TENKI!
EduNations Christmas Celebrations
Each year around Christmas time, many of you give above and beyond so that our students and staff can enjoy a wonderful Christmas celebration together. This year was no exception and we received more gifts toward this celebration than ever before!
Thanks to your generosity, the students and staff at EduNations were able to celebrate the Christmas season together throughout a few different events in December. On December 12th, EduNations held its annual Christmas picnic where all of the teachers and students came together in each of their communities to enjoy a delicious meal together. This time is always greatly valued by both teachers and students, and each year a stronger sense of community is born out of this time of fellowship together.
Later in December, EduNations students took part in a Candlelight Procession, in which all of the students received a candle and paraded together throughout their village while singing Christmas carols. This is an event that both students and community members look forward to. The communities always love how beautiful the candlelight procession looks and enjoy hearing the students sing together. It’s truly a beautiful way for the entire community to enjoy the Christmas season together.
Not only do your generous contributions provide the opportunity for students and staff to celebrate the Christmas season together, but they also provide a Christmas bonus to all of the EduNations staff members. Each December, EduNations gifts the staff with a little extra cash in addition to their standard salary. Many use this money to find a special way to celebrate Christmas together with their families. We see this gift as a way to show our appreciation to our staff and to encourage them in the tremendous work they are doing.
The EduNations Christmas celebrations are one of the most refreshing times for students and staff during the school year as it provides a good break of fun and fellowship after a semester of very hard work. Thanks to your generous gifts toward these celebrations, our students and staff returned to school in January feeling renewed and motivated to study hard and take on another semester. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to work toward the wellbeing of all of our students and staff. It takes a village!
A New Bakery in Rokassa
In order to promote sustainable development, EduNations is building another bakery for the people in the village of Rokassa. Two years ago, a bakery was built in the village of Fintonia as there was no other bakery within 50 miles of the village. The purpose of the bakery was to not only provide a source of bread to the residents in Fintonia, but also to provide jobs and an income to members of the community through selling the bread to nearby villages. Over the past year, we have seen great success in the Fintonia Bakery. The community is so grateful to have a source of bread, and many of the community members have used it as a form of profit by traveling to other villages to sell and trade bread.
The income brought in from the Fintonia Bakery, as well as some significant gifts from generous donors, was used to start the construction of the bakery in Rokassa. Over the past year, EduNations has begun the construction of our first Senior Secondary Boarding School, where hundreds of students will be living and learning each year. It was because of this reason that we decided a bakery was needed in Rokassa. Not only will the bakery provide food for the hundreds of high school students and community members, it will also serve as a place of employment to many of the residents in Rokassa.
Construction of the bakery began in early December, starting with the creation of a commercial oven that has the ability to produce 1,500 loaves of bread each day. The next step of the process will be to construct an actual building around the oven that will serve as the store to sell the baked goods. When complete, the bakery will be run by a committee of several residents in Rokassa, including some teachers, pastors, and other leaders. We look forward to this collaboration and hope that it will continue to build a stronger partnership amongst all areas in the community.
We are so excited about this partnership with the people of Rokassa in providing another economic opportunity and we can’t wait to see the impact it brings to the community.
Unity Through a T-Shirt
When EduNations’ President, Samuel Sesay, returned to Sierra Leone in December from his brief trip to the US, he brought new staff t-shirts back with him for all of the teachers and administrative staff in Sierra Leone. The t-shirts are navy blue with the new EduNations’ logo displayed in white on the left chest. On the back of the shirt are the words “igniting hope” followed by EduNations’ website. Now, the EduNations staff in Sierra Leone can replace their old shirts with updated ones that will coordinate with the US staff t-shirts.
Something as simple as a t-shirt has brought so much pride, unity and dignity to our teachers and admin staff. Every Friday is now “T-shirt Friday” and all of the teachers happily wear their EduNations shirts together. The students enjoy seeing all of their teachers in matching uniforms and feel that it creates a stronger sense of unity among the schools. The teachers also feel that the ability to match with the administrative staff and teachers from other villages creates a deeper connection amongst the communities.
These t-shirts are also being used as a way to showcase EduNations around Sierra Leone. The teachers and administrative staff proudly wear their uniforms to differentiate themselves in meetings and when walking around town. Our staff have already had many opportunities to share EduNations’ mission and vision to others around Sierra Leone who are not familiar with the organization.
The teachers and admin staff are thankful for these new shirts and are proud to show that they are part of EduNations’ global family of board members, donors, sponsors, staff and students. They look forward to continuing to promote EduNations and making our mission known!