Bringing Food to Rural Villages During COVID-19
On March 21, Sierra Leone’s president imposed an inter-district lock-down and shut down all schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anticipating this, EduNations leaders had already trained staff on the prevention of the Covid-19 infection and supplied materials to schools in anticipation of quarantining. So when the presidential announcement came EduNations was already in action.
The people of rural Sierra Leone where EduNations has its schools are mostly subsistence farmers. These villagers are also frequently dependent upon support from relatives in bigger towns. When the lock-down prevented most travel between districts, that support stopped and hunger and starvation for people living only on bush yams and mangoes for food became the biggest concern.
To feed the hungry villagers, EduNations administration worked with the pastors of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, church elders and school administrators. The first step was to register everyone in the six EduNations villages – seven hundred and twenty households with over three thousand six hundred dependents in total. Next came the distribution of basic food staples (rice, noodles, onions, cooking oil, and salt) in each community on its own assigned day. EduNations’ staff also shared the importance of education for the future of Sierra Leone with those receiving food while modeling proper COVID-19 prevention practices like hand washing, social distancing and face-masks.
While each community had many stories of gratitude, here are just a few:
– a disabled widow with five children said for over five days they had lived on bush yams,
– an elderly woman praised God and thanked EduNations since she hadn’t eaten in three days,
– a 92 year old man, sick from too many mangoes, said “mangoes no more! It’s rice now!”
Thanks to your contributions, EduNations is continuing our mission to ignite hope in the rural villages of Sierra Leone.
Together, We Raised $22,470!
Thanks to everyone who joined us for our Connect for the Kids live stream event and campaign on May 28-June 5! We had so much fun connecting with all of you throughout the week.
Our first ever live stream event was a success and roughly 100 of you tuned in that evening. We were able to hear from various EduNations board and staff members, including our very own President, Samuel Sesay. Thank you to everyone who tuned in that evening and engaged in discussion via the comment section.
Our live stream event kicked off our week-long Connect for the Kids campaign, where we challenged you to help us reach our $16,000 goal and engage in our various daily competitions. Many of you competed in our week-long fitness challenge, where you had to complete 13 miles in one week. We loved seeing the progress you posted throughout the week! While we enjoyed engaging with all of you through the various challenges, we were really amazed at how you generously gave that week. A few days before the campaign ended, we had already surpassed our goal of $16,000. By the end of the campaign on Friday June 5, we had raised $22, 470! All of the money that was raised will be sent to Sierra Leone to support our students and communities.
We cannot thank you all enough for participating in our campaign! We are blown away by your faithful generosity, despite the hard times that many of you are facing in this uncertain season. We are convinced that we are blessed with the best community. On behalf of all of us here at EduNations, TENKI!
EduNations in Coalition Awarded EU Educational Funds
We are very pleased that the European Union (EU) awarded EduNations and two other NGOs an approximate 12,000 Euro grant for a project to increase school attendance by girls and children with disabilities in the next school year.
EduNations collaborated with two other leading NGOS from Sierra Leone’s northern districts, “Future in Our Hand” and “Real Women in Action”, to design a project to contribute to the access of universal and equal rights to education, focusing on under-served girls and children with disabilities. The project will increase parental and community awareness of the importance of equal access to education according to the education policy as well as inclusive educational support for children with disabilities.
The project award speaks well of the EduNations ability to work with other NGOs to develop the project as well as to submit a proposal that won acceptance from the EU.
Progress Being Made on the Rokassa Dormitory Construction
The new Senior Secondary School in Rokassa will be the long-awaited school where graduates from EduNations’ Junior Secondary Schools can take their education to the next level.
As you may know, EduNations started with Primary Schools in each of the six villages. Then as Primary School students progressed, EduNations built Junior Secondary Schools. For those wanting these young people to complete their education, the question has been, “where will the children go after graduation from Junior Secondary Schools?”
Without an EduNations Senior Secondary School, graduates of Junior Secondary Schools have been faced with difficult alternatives: either leaving school or travelling to nearby bigger towns to complete their education. Till now, many have ended their education they because they didn’t have the money to continue. Others who have gone to larger cities to attend Senior Secondary School have had serious personal problems, like unplanned pregnancy, living far from home. Both alternatives have been discouraging to other prospective students.
To solve this dilemma, EduNations’ Rokassa Senior Secondary School project was launched in 2018 with the vision of a learner-friendly school where children from different districts in Sierra Leone could come to have a first-class education. The EduNations Rokassa Senior Secondary School includes a school building that will provide classrooms with capacity for up to 800 children. The school will provide dormitory living accommodations for more than 100 children and 24 teachers since the students will be coming from their various communities to Rokassa,
We thank God for the generous donors whose contributions have enabled the construction of six dormitory houses with eight rooms each. Since October 2019, construction has progressed well and we are happy to report the roofing of all these houses is in progress. As this stage of the project nears completion, we would appreciate your continued prayers and support for God to bless the work that has already been funded.
If you are looking for an opportunity to support next stages of this project, contributions would be greatly appreciated to provide bedding and furniture to be used by the children, as well as for the construction of subsequent buildings.
Preventing Sexual Abuse During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Sometimes being in the “top ten” isn’t a good thing. For example, the United Nations’ 2015 research put Sierra Leone in the top ten for highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the world with about three out of ten teenagers having experienced a pregnancy or having given birth at least once. Even more disturbing is the evidence these pregnancies were commonly the result of sexual abuse.
Acknowledging the severity of the issue, Sierra Leone’s President Bio declared sexual violence a national emergency in November 2019. A law was also passed that allows pregnant girls to continue their education. This declaration and law were broadly welcomed across the nation.
As well known, 2020 has brought the global COVID-19 pandemic, including cases in Sierra Leone. In response, all schools, including EduNations’, have been ordered to close. Since this COVID-19 closure is reminiscent of the measures taken during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, EduNations has applied lessons learned from that critical period. Since there was an increase in the rate of sexual violence during the 2014 Ebola crisis and emergency response, EduNations has taken extra steps to prevent sexual violence in 2020.
With support from the Directors of EduNations, Ms. Fatu Koroma, the EduNations Psychosocial Coordinator visited all six communities to admonish the girls to avoid teen pregnancy and to be courageous in reporting any abuses even in hard times like these. Although it was dangerous to go to these communities during the government declared lockdowns, EduNations wanted to be proactive in prevention rather than have the girls experience the challenges of teen pregnancy or sexual violence.
Heading off sexual violence and keeping girls in school are just two ways for EduNations continues to pursue its mission of providing quality and free education to children in rural Sierra Leone. Thank you again for your support which makes this all possible.