A Quiz, Debate, and Spelling Bee
While students’ performances in exams are important, their ability to think critically and articulate relevant issues relating to national development within a limited time frame is another valuable aspect of their education. To help students practice these skills, staff and teachers organized EduNations’ first annual Quiz, Debate and Spelling Bee Competition, which all EduNations students participated in.
The excitement was almost tangible as all students from each of EduNations’ 6 communities arrived in the village of Rokassa. That evening, they began with their opening ceremony, where they prayed, introduced the judges, and gave a brief devotional. The students were then dismissed to their sleeping areas to get a good night’s rest before the next day’s festivities.
After having breakfast together the next day, the debate competition began. Each secondary school was represented by two pupils who participated in this competition. The pupils debated on critical emerging issues such as free education in Sierra Leone and the importance of schooling in rural villages. Audience members were impressed with each of the student’s ability to fluently articulate issues relating to national development. The representative for the Gbenekoro Secondary school who emerged as the winner gave an excellent presentation on the importance of education, which was both insightful and entertaining.
After the debate, the students came together for a seminar on Christian Student Leadership given by the Regional Training Secretary of the Sierra Leone Fellowship of Evangelical Students. The seminar was organized to help the students recognize their value as potential leaders and understand how to behave as a Christian leader in their schools and communities.
When the seminar was over, the primary students, who had previously been given 150 spelling words to practice, competed in spelling bees. To everybody’s amazement, ALL of the students had perfectly memorized all of the spelling words! Therefore, in order to properly determine a winner, the pupils were given extra spelling words. After the spelling bee, the students engaged in a quiz competition where they were asked questions relating to the history of Sierra Leone, Africa and other critical national and international issues. Later, the students were given the opportunity to have fun and play games against each other. The schools’ representing teachers also had their own fun game of football that evening.
On Sunday, the students closed out the annual competition with a church service followed by an awards ceremony. All of the students were given clothing as a participation award. The students who placed in first, second, and third in their competitions were awarded with bicycles, bags, and dictionaries, respectively.
While this may seem like just another school activity, the value for EduNations students is truly priceless. These children are living in communities where there is no way for them to articulate issues that deeply affect their lives. Giving them an opportunity to express themselves on these important issues opens their eyes and gives them a voice. Some students were so moved by this opportunity that they wept in expression of their feelings. This gathering also gave students the opportunity for fellowship with EduNations students in other villages who uphold the same values they do. They were able to encourage one another and worship together, filling them with hope and peace as they departed back to their home villages.
The Joy of Student Sponsorship
When you open the Student Sponsorship page on the EduNations website, you will read the following words from the Student Sponsorship Coordinator, Beth Weaver:
Every Student deserves a chance, and you can help!
Sponsoring an EduNations’ Student will offset all of the costs related to supporting the selected Student’s education, including, tuition, teachers’ salaries, school supplies, sanitary latrines, and fresh drinking water.
Over the years, we have read many of your personal stories about the ‘joy of sponsorship’ in which you have recounted details about how much joy you’ve received from sponsoring a student in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Many of you have expressed delight in writing a letter or sending a picture to your sponsored student. Some of you have even ventured to Sierra Leone to meet your sponsored student and have expressed the happiness of finally meeting face-to-face.
This joy goes both ways.
“At EduNations when students learn that they have been sponsored, even the smile on their faces shows that they are extremely happy and have received the best news ever.”
states EduNations’ Psychosocial Coordinator, Fatu Koroma.
The look of joy on EduNations students’ faces when they learn that somebody abroad loves them and has decided to support their education is priceless – they jump and dance around and make all kinds of joyful expressions. This positive news greatly impacts their attendance in school and performances in tests and examinations.
While students are enrolled in EduNations schools, they receive a completely free education regardless of their ethnic background, religion, or physical challenges. Yet, nothing refreshes the students’ eagerness to learn more than when they hear that someone across the world has their photo on their refrigerator, prays for them and sends letters or pictures to them from time to time. The students closely treasure these memories, pictures and letters that are so personal and filled with love.
Alpha Kamara, a 4th grade student at EduNations Hope Academy Primary School in Makump, talked to EduNations’ Psychosocial Coordinator about how the Student Sponsorship Program has impacted his life.
According to him, he was a very slow student in class and his participation at school was not something to talk about. Sometime last school year he received the information that he had a sponsor. He said that the news changed all his perceptions about him being a slow learner. Since that day, Alpha has doubled up in his schoolwork and classes. He studies every day, even when he is in their farmhouse. According to his teacher, Alpha is now among the best five students in class!
Recently, the sponsored students were asked to write letters or draw pictures to send to their sponsors. Alpha said he spent days thinking about his project. He had so many ideas of what he really wanted to draw for his sponsor that he found it difficult which one to choose. Alpha said he drew, erased, drew and erased several times. He even mentioned that he would wake up at night and think about how happy he was to be able to send a very nice card to his sponsor.
The positive impacts that the Student Sponsorship Program has on the lives of EduNations students is too many to count. Whether you are currently sponsoring a student or are thinking about doing so, you can contact our Student Sponsorship Coodinator, Beth Weaver at Beth@EduNations.org with any questions.
EduNations Runners Finish Strong
May 4-5, 2019 was an exciting time for many as over 20,000 runners from all over the country gathered in downtown Pittsburgh for the annual Pittsburgh Marathon race weekend. These two full days are always filled with much excitement and anticipation as runners participate for a variety of reasons – some are looking to break their personal records while others are running the race for the first time with hopes of simply finishing strong.
Each year, over 2,000 participants run in the Pittsburgh Marathon races to be part of something bigger than themselves. These runners connect their passion to purpose and commit to run for a cause that is close to their hearts. This year, over $1,000,000 was raised for charities all over the world!
On behalf of the board, staff, and students at EduNations, we want to thank every person who ran in one of the Pittsburgh Marathon races to raise money for students in Sierra Leone.
Last year, Jefferson Ellis ran in the 5k race on behalf of EduNations. This year, he wanted to do more so he decided to run the half marathon. On May 5, after months of training and hard work, he crossed the finish line strong. Not only that, but he was able to raise $405 for the children in Sierra Leone! Thank you, Jefferson and all the EduNations team, for your hard work and dedication this season. You are making a difference in Sierra Leone!
Two Trips to Sierra Leone!
Not one, but two teams will be taking trips to Sierra Leone this summer and we are so excited!
North Park Church of Wexford, PA will be sending a short-term team to Sierra Leone in early July. The team will be conducting EduNations’ annual teacher training seminar to help equip the teachers from all of the schools with techniques and resources. The training will focus on things like teaching phonics, classroom management, and critical thinking skills, among other things. Several members of the five person team have extensive experience in teaching, psychology, and administration who are eager to see how what they’ve learned and done for years might be helpful to the EduNations teachers.
The second team is a mix of EduNations board and staff, members from Memorial Park Presbyterian Church, and members from Covenant Presbyterian Church. This team will be heading to Sierra Leone in late July to meet with staff in Sierra Leone, check in at all of the schools in our 6 villages, and facilitate a 2-day workshop.
The teams would appreciate prayer for the following:
1) Pray for the North Park Team as it adjusts to the loss of one of its members who had to cancel her trip due for health related reasons. This will require other people to take over some of her training responsibilities.
2) Pray for both teams’ safeties and travels while in route to the destination.
3) Pray for the North Park Team as they desire to teach what is most helpful to the Edunations’ teachers. May God show them what information and skills are most needed at this time.
4) Pray for strong and lasting relationships to be built, not only among the team, but also with the staff, teachers, students, and community members in Sierra Leone.
5) Pray for receptive hearts, strength and perseverance.
Thank you for everyone who has and continues to support these teams going over. Be on the lookout for updates from these teams on EduNations’ Facebook Page.
Fintonia and Mapainda Schools Get a Facelift
Since EduNations schools are the centers for community development, it is natural that they have faced wear and tear over the years. During his regular visits to the communities of Fintonia and Mapainda, Samuel Sesay, President of EduNations, noticed significant deterioration in the schools and recommended a complete facelift on these buildings.
The facelift included significant updates and work done on 15 classrooms, a hallway, and four office spaces. Students, teachers, parents and community members were in full support of these renovations and were thrilled when they were completed. One school administrator stated, “despite regular maintenance, the buildings had naturally become tired-looking. Therefore, we support the facelift!”
After the renovations were completed in Fintonia, a parent approached one of the community leaders and declared, “Wow it’s new all over again. EduNations! EduNations! EduNations! our hope of education in the Tambaka chiefdom!”
Since the completion, students have been referring to the revamped structure as ‘the new building’. “This project means a lot to me” stated a former EduNations student who is now a community youth leader. “The school has been part of my whole life and has helped me define who I have become, I am very excited for the new looks.”
Encouraged by the students’ response to the updates, the principal of the Junior Secondary School had this to say,
“I hope that the dressing of the school will open students’ imaginations to the possibility of what a building is, and also what the learning spaces can be.”
Headteacher of Mapainda Primary School agreed with this statement and said, “I feel strongly that the learning environments should foster and empower students of all ages to be curious.”
We hope that these new buildings encourage and motivate students to continue to work hard in their studies so that they can make a lasting difference in their communities. As always, thank you to everybody who continues to support EduNations work to help bring hope to students in Sierra Leone.
Hernia Surgeries Underway
More than just education, EduNations is committed to the whole child, whole community, and holistic development. That’s why we partner with other organizations to help bring resources and hope to under-served communities. Jericho Road Community Health Center, one of our long standing partners, operates the Orfonthy Community Health Center in the village of Rokassa. They recently shared an exciting update and we can’t help but share it with you!
“Our Adama Martha Memorial CHC
Thank you, Jericho Road, for all you do to make a lasting difference in the lives of the people in Sierra Leone. And thank you to everybody who has supported this work to make healthcare a reality in Rokassa!