EduNations’ COVID-19 Response
Our outstanding team in Sierra Leone is well prepared for a time such as this. Due to their exemplary work responding to the Ebola crisis in the past, EduNations is well positioned to respond again if it becomes necessary. The government of Sierra Leone is taking wise and precautionary measures including the shutting down of all schools in the country on March 31. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone currently, and we all hope and pray that that will continue.
Some of the things that our staff are doing to prepare include:
- training our principals and head teachers on how to respond to the crisis in the event it occurs,
- creating educational materials based on the current and best learnings about COVID-19 so that our communities can protect themselves,
- putting into place a mobilization plan that would include caring for people in our communities if they were to become infected,
- developing a budget for outreach based on our previous experience with the Ebola crisis,
- mobilizing people in our communities and those connected to EduNations in prayer,
- and finally, communicating with our Board of Directors and US staff the most current developments so that we can be supportive and responsive.
We know that you will join us in praying that God would spare the people of Sierra Leone from the tragedies that they experienced previously during the Ebola crisis. Many of us from resource-rich communities in the West are beginning to experience on a very small scale a limitation of access to resources that our friends in Sierra Leone have known on a much more severe scale for a very long time. May our experience in the times in which we live now serve to sensitize us to those in vulnerable and under-resourced communities like Sierra Leone. Let us not forget “the least of these” and those who are serving them.
A Story of Hope
Despite facing many adversities early on in life, Jariatu Jawara’s story is one of hope. Jariatu had a hard life growing up. She was born to a mother who had experienced multiple miscarriages before giving birth to her. In the village where she lived, miscarriages were seen as a sign of being cursed by God, so their family was looked down upon. Jariatu was given the harsh nickname of Nyamakolo, meaning trash can, and was not respected in her village. She didn’t have much hope for the future, and prepared herself for a hard life ahead.
In 2006, EduNations came to her village of Mayatta and opened a school, free of charge to students. For the first time, Jariatu saw a glimpse of hope and enrolled in Primary School. Knowing what it meant to work hard and motivated by the chance to change the course of her life, Jariatu studied hard in school and performed exceptionally well. In 2012, she passed her National Primary Exams and moved onto Secondary School. Again, she continued to work hard and perform well. Eventually, she graduated from Senior Secondary School, continued on through college, and successfully received her degree a few years later.
Upon graduating from college, Jariatu decided to return to her home village of Mayatta, the village that had once viewed her as worthless. Now, Jariatu teaches at EduNations Hope Academy in her village and faithfully serves the least of these as she was once served all those years ago. Jariatu is passionate about seeing the students succeed and shares her own story to inspire those she teaches. Reflecting on her own story she says,
“I used to not have any means of education and was not sure I could ever receive an education had EduNations not come. Born to poor uneducated parents made it difficult to be educated. And it would have been impossible if EduNations had not come to my village. But, today I am happy I get to stand before the pupils and share my story.”
We are grateful to have such an incredible teacher working in our schools. She inspires and motivates so many of our students, especially girls, to work hard and aspire for more. She is a great blessing to the EduNations community, and we are so thankful for her service!
EduNations Holds Annual Sports Competition
Each year, EduNations hosts an annual sports competition in each of the six villages where we have schools. The purpose of the school sports competition is to encourage physical fitness, while also teaching students important lessons in sportsmanship, teamwork, discipline, and respect.
The annual competition is highly anticipated each year by not only EduNations students and teachers, but also by parents, guardians, community members, and other leaders from surrounding areas as they are invited to watch the multi-day event. Each year, the students are split into 4 teams – Rumer House, Krieger House, Weaver House, and Kennedy House – which are each distinguished by a different color. Flags are pitched in the village and teachers are appointed as judges of the various competitions.
This year, the events began with a welcoming speech from the Principal in each village. Following the speech, the head student of each school lit a ceremonial torch, indicating the start of the games. There was much excitement as the competitions began and students cheered on their fellow teammates. Some of the most popular sports among the students included the sprints, relays, sack races, obstacle races, and tug-of-wars. Throughout the next few days, points were tracked on a large display board as students had fun representing their teams in various competitions.
On the final day of the sports event, all of the students gathered together as leaders in the village presented awards to individual students and teams. Awards were based on skill, participation, and sportsmanship. The final trophy was given to the overall winning team in each village who gained the most points over the multi-day competition. The winning teams celebrated together and were proud of their accomplishments.
Each year, we find that the annual sports competition encourages personal growth, morale, and unity among our students and teachers. This competition comes as a well-earned break from rigorous academics each year, yet still produces important lessons for our students. We see this as another way that EduNations can continue to care for the overall wellbeing of our students, and it has easily become one of the favorite events that our students look forward to each year!
EduNations Employs Student Interns
EduNations’ has begun to employ well-qualified college students as interns with very positive results. EduNations’ Administration and Finance Manager, Isaac Boima, established these short-term positions as a way to benefit both the organization and the young people. EduNations has gotten well-qualified collegians to help fulfill expanding administrative tasks and these young professionals have gained valuable experience working in a business with a supportive environment.
With five internships completed, Mr. Boima is very gratified with the interns’ stories of how the strong ethics and family feel of the administrative team have impacted them both professionally and personally. One intern wrote, “When I started my volunteer work here I was optimistic to gain experience with the EduNations staff. Not once have I been disappointed. The emphasis on operational integrity, intellectual development, and our potential for good in Christ made the internship program especially powerful.”
These administrative internships are just another example of the creative ways that EduNations works to ignite hope in Sierra Leone.
Students Benefit from Psycho-Social Support
The remote, provincial villages where EduNations established schools Sierra Leone were some of the most challenging environments anyone could imagine. Living in subsistence-level poverty, both adults and children struggled to survive with no resources or expectation for a better future. EduNations’ thriving schools have changed this outlook since students have the opportunity for a free, quality education.
While many students thrive in this new environment, EduNations also provides additional assistance for those who may need extra help. EduNations’ Psycho-Social Coordinator engages students, teachers, and guidance counselors in all the communities throughout the year, especially after the end-of-first-term assessment identifies students who could benefit from more support. Once students’ needs are identified, a variety of encouraging interventions are employed including extra time with slow learners, supplemental learning techniques, and group studying. In addition, counselors visit students’ homes to encourage school-attendance.
Students are taught about self-awareness and self-motivation as they first learn to identify their own strengths and limitations while having a well-grounded sense of confidence in their ability, and then learn to harness those abilities, thoughts, emotions, and behavior to improve self-confidence as they learn and grow.
Students, parents, and EduNations’ staff have seen many benefits of this assistance in better attendance, behavior, and academic performance. Psycho-social support is just another reason why EduNations’ schools continue to thrive and its thanks to your faithful support.