In January one of our trustees, John Harrison, and our founder Dave Cooke, ventured back to a ravaged Sierra Leone, a country still waiting for its lucky break after years of civil conflict and the crippling effect of the recent Ebola crisis. After our college had to be closed by Government mandate through the Ebola crisis of 2014 we had to start from scratch in Yams Farm, a community a few miles out of Freetown.
In 2016 we were able to re-open our college providing vocational training in tailoring, hairdressing or catering alongside literacy and numeracy to disadvantaged young people with little to no formal education. John & Dave went to see how our students were getting on in the first year of their training and even got to be judges in the catering exam!
The 32 students currently enrolled at the college are mostly young single women with their own children and very little experience of school. This two year course is their foundation to gain employment or set up a business and give them financial security.Read More
Hawa is 19 years old. She used to live with her father and his four wives but she has lost everyone. She didn’t go to school regularly enough to learn to read and write so she came to Freetown to scratch a living selling pepper in the local market. She doesn’t always know if she’s made enough to cover her term fees at the college plus her books, materials and uniform, but she’s desperate to learn. As a chef, she knows she can get a job in one of the hotels or set up her own small business (Dave told us the food at their exam was better than the food he had at the hotel!). Her exam involved preparing, from scratch, two dishes, setting the table (laying her own hand-made bead place-mats), selecting the accompanying drinks and presenting the food to the judges.
Whilst catching up with our students, John & Dave also visited the neighbouring Primary School, partially supported by Teams4U alongside private fees. Here, at the office door, they met Jonny. This young man was left orphaned at 18 by the Ebola crisis and brought to Freetown by his uncle who, with the promise of helping Jonny get his education, then abandoned him to the streets telling him to make something of himself. He hasn’t seen his uncle or any other family member since. But Jonny was determined. He wants to be a lawyer. He found a job in one of the shacks that line the main roads, guarding it at night whilst grinding cassava. His bed is a straw mat on the shop floor. His nights grinding the cassava root into flour scrapes him his school fees but when John & Dave met him, he was being turned away – he was £2 short.
But both John & Dave saw something in this young man and asked to meet him and hear his story. Jonny sits head and shoulders above his 15yr old classmates, his muscles ripped from nights of hard labour, but though he’s almost old enough to be their teacher, has no-one to support him, and works through the night to be at school in the day, he wants his education and has not given up.
The administrator of the school chose to pay Jonny’s shortfall because she believed in him. John & Dave chose to personally support Jonny with his books, uniform and shoes because they saw in him that particular spark of perseverance and courage in the face of adversity.Make a Donation