“Living by Faith”: a note from our President
Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus with its debilitating effects on individuals, households, nations and our world at large, various people have asked themselves these questions: “How do we cope?” or “What is our survival strategy?” or better still, “Where do we see ourselves in light of COVID-19?”. Some people have described organizations such as ours as ‘donor dependent’, suggesting that there is no chance for us to survive when our donors are practically fighting for their own survival. I would like to describe EduNations as a faith-based organization, with the point being that we are at our best when we are called to TRUST in the faithful promises of God. With all the EduNations schools forced to close and students forced to stay home due to the COVID-19, the admin staff has gone out of their way to mobilize the teachers to train and form COVID-19 taskforce groups in each community. Additionally, we have provided veronica buckets, thermometers, hand sanitizers, facial masks, hand gloves, portable loudspeakers and printed materials to be used to create an effective awareness and sensitization campaign. With our organization receiving accreditation (vehicle and body passes which enable us to travel around the country), our admin team continues to travel to our operational sites to provide guidance, support and encouragement to our staff and the community members. Our work never really stops! And, our God never stops caring for us. Through the generosity of our donors and partners, we have been able to retain all our staff so far, continue with our Senior Secondary School construction project, proceed with our Poultry project and maintain our administrative operations. This is nothing but the faithfulness of God. Trusting Him for our lives and for our work is the only strategy we can have in uncertain times as these. “But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38
Bicycles Ready to Ride, Again!
With your help over the past two years, EduNations has purchased bicycles for many students from neighboring villages who had been walking between 5-13 miles to school each way, every day. As you might imagine, the students arrived at school exhausted and performed poorly in their academics. Of course, the bicycles changed those long walks into much shorter rides and our students have been happier and much better learners.
Since our students ride the bikes over narrow dirt roads that are rugged and bumpy, there is a lot of wear and tear on the bicycles. And while the students do their best to care for their bikes, they simply don’t have the tools or know-how to fix them. After a visit to our Rokassa schools in which he learned how many bicycles were out of service, EduNations’ President Samuel Sesay reached out to the organization who supplied the bikes to see about getting the bikes fixed. Thankfully, the Village Bicycle Project’s manager sent a team who repaired 55 of the student’s bicycles!
When schools open back up, our students will be able to get to school without any issues because they will have working bicycles again. We know this is a crucial aspect to our students’ academic success, and we are thankful for our partnership with Village Bicycle Project and for the donors whose generosity made this possible.
Pregnant Girls Continuing Education
According to the United Nations, the African continent has the highest adolescent pregnancy rate in the world resulting in many barriers to continuing formal education. Since adolescent pregnancy commonly results in young women dropping out of school and education is the key to sustainable social and economic development, this issue must be addressed head on.
Adolescent pregnancy and the right of pregnant students to continue their education has evoked many emotionally charged discussions across African Union member states in recent years. Sometimes these debates focus around issues of morality and various interpretations of religious teachings prohibiting sex outside of marriage. It has been a common practice for pregnant girls to face punishment, including expulsion from school. Regardless of the morality of the acts leading to pregnancy, we believe that all girls have a right to education.
On March 30, 2020, Sierra Leone’s courts overturned a law that prohibited pregnant schoolgirls from attending school and taking national exams. The Sierra Leone government followed this court decision by putting into place a nationwide program to help pregnant girls continue in school. EduNations will stand with the Ministry of Education to ensure that all pregnant girls are given the opportunity of education.
When schools open back up after COVID-19, we will continue to support in every way possible the young mothers attending our schools so they can become women who make positive contributions in their communities. We believe these are important steps in building an all-inclusive country where all children, regardless of class, ethnicity, social-status, disability, or location, will be able to live and learn in safety and dignity.
From Sierra Leone to Israel
A dream was fulfilled when Reverend Hassan Koroma traveled to Israel in March to visit some of the world’s most famous archaeological sites. As you may know, Koroma is EduNations’ beloved Education Officer, as well as the Church Training Officer for the EPC* churches in Sierra Leone. When a generous donor provided funds for the trip, the General Secretary of Sierra Leone’s EPC encouraged Koroma to go so that he could share what he learned with the people in our communities and with the EPC pastors.
“If ever there is a country one should visit on earth for historical research or Christian pilgrimage, it is Israel!” said Koroma. Not only does the small country have a wide variety of unique landscapes, ranging from spectacular mountainous deserts to lush, spring-fed forests, but its place at the crossroads of middle-eastern religious history make it an especially fascinating destination.” To get the most out of his trip, Koroma traveled with a small group tour coordinated by the Obed Project, a non-profit dedicated to promoting educational travel to Israel.
Pastor Koroma tells us: “We arrived in Israel on Sunday, March 8th and met up with the other team members from the United States at the Tel Aviv airport. Then we boarded a bus and drove about three hours to the Dead Sea area for our first evening. During our eight-day stay in Israel, we visited many archaeological sites, historic towns, and ancient remains in what the Bible calls ‘the Promised Land’. Each day in Israel was full as we learned more and more about the rich history and geography of Israel.”
As a way of helping biblical stories to come alive, the team approached each site in a thoughtful manner. On the way in the bus, the expert tour guide taught about the site’s background and people. Upon arrival, Scripture passages relating to that particular site were read. Then the team leader expounded on these scriptures in order to put them in context within the greater arc of the story of God reaching out to humanity. Lastly, the team prayed together.
“Though the Israel team was made up of different people from many various backgrounds, we experienced strong bonds of fellowship through shared meals, travel, and shared learning. Every evening, we came together as a team and talked about our day’s experience. The trip was not only educational, but also lot of fun including once in a lifetime experiences such as floating in the Dead Sea, re-dedication in the Jordan River, and even a camel ride!
Although our trip was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an experience that I will never forget!” Pastor Koroma said he returned spiritually charged and eager to share what he’d learned.
* EPC stands for Evangelical Presbyterian Church