Our Partner in Sierra Leone
Helga was born and lives in Sierra Leone. She graduated with an HR degree but her vision and passion was always to work with disadvantaged young people and so she now works full time for Teams4U looking after the various in country projects.
Helga lives in the capital Freetown with her daughter and sister.
Experience they say is the best teacher, little did I realized the intensity of the statement until I became a victim of what experience has taught me. I was once harassed sexually, abused and molested when I was a child trying to be educated. It was an emotional, psychological and social torture that I went through. Was it the fault of my parents? This answer was definitely no as they tried their best to let me be educated but the economic situation was not favourable for them as at that time. It was during this period I was faced with all forms of abused.
I however transcended over them all and today I am part of the Teams4U squad. The journey started when I first met with the team from UK who came for a humanitarian visit to Sierra Leone. I was introduced to them by my Pastor and we had some brain storming conversation and later agreed upon establishing a Vocational Centre that will cater for deprived youth especially women. At the centre, I serve as the coordinator for the program with the focus of reducing the rate of dependency of women and help them be partners in development to the house and family which will have a ripple effect to the community and society as a whole.
Our Projects in 123
1 – Waterloo is a bustling town located 15 miles from the capital Freetown and where T4U run the only vocational college based in this town.
The college has 3 disciplines of hairdressing, tailoring and catering, each with its own tutor. Numeracy and literacy are also taught by Pastor Brima.
Currently, there are 40 girls enrolled in a 2-year programme. Some of the young women have had no education at all while most have not had more than a very basic education at best. Without the opportunity of attending the college and learning new skills they would be returning to their old way of life and trying to earn money through things like rock breaking, selling water or even themselves!
2 – Koindu is a town, 317 miles inland from Freetown, on the border of Sierra Leone adjoining Liberia and Guinea. Because of its situation is was a very important market town but was devastated in the 1990s by the civil war. If that was not enough it was devastated by Ebola which spread into Sierra Leone in 2014/15. Both these horrific events meant that many children had to abandon their education.
In 2019 T4U began to work in the forgotten town of Koindu. T4U introduced the Develop with Dignity programme to 6 local schools and the impact was significant with many girls now not missing schooling each month. The local chief has recognised the significance of this programme and has requested that T4U return to help more schoolgirls to not miss out on their education. He has also requested that T4U start a vocational college to provide skills training for the many young people affected as described above.
3 – Plans are now well underway to open a vocational college in Koindu this year. Initially we will only teach catering, but the vision is to expand the work to include hairdressing and bricklaying. In anticipation of the opening, 40 girls have already signed up.
I am Hassanatu, a graduate from the Teams4U Vocational Training Centre; I am a married woman who was seen as a liability in my matrimonial home. I faced several humiliations, violation and abused in the hands of my husband. Whenever I asked for money for my toiletries, he will remind me of my ineptitude and will reign insults on me and at the end will not provide it for me. In Africa, we are bonded by the concept of extended families and so my siblings were looking forward to me for the education as our parents were very poor.
I thought getting married would have reduced the burden from my parents and I would have stepped in to cushion the situation. It was a mirage until I was enrolled at this Vocational Centre. It was a difficult task for me as I keeping always when I wanted to go to school. I will say I am going to the market to buy food stuff for cooking. I will then have to hide my uniform inside my bag for him not to see it. For a period of two years my husband could not notice that I was studying. After my graduation ceremony, I was enrolled at a restaurant as a caterer and I can now boast of being self- reliant and my husband was shocked when I showed him my appointment letter. I then took the time to explain to him how it all happened. Today the abuse, molestation and violence have diminished because I am now a bit independent and I am the bread winner of the family as my husband has lost his job and now unemployed. All because of Teams4U vocational centre!
I am Mariama, a student of the Team4U Vocational Training Centre, a Centre that is focusing on developing the middle level man-power of the society. I am proud of myself today because I am now self -reliant as I can now take care of my immediate needs. I am an orphan who lost both parents during the Ebola surge in our country. Prior to their death, I was living in our village were things were really difficult for us. I decided to leave the village for the city were my parents were, couple of months after my arrival, the Ebola outbreak became a state of emergency issue. It was during that period I lost both of them. Life became unbearable as there was no one to take care of me and I became a destitute.
Upon hearing of this Vocational Centre, I decided to give it a try and was enrolled. Though I cannot read and write, provisions were made for all categories of learners and I fit into one of these categories. After several months of concentrated learning, today I can now plait with varieties of African and European styles. My handy work craft has increased and can now do a host of various hand works. I am still in the process of learning at the centre. I am who I am today because of an opportunity given to me by teams4u vocational training centre. You can also be independent if you endeavour to cross over hurdles and join teams4u vocational training centre.
I am Martha, age 17 and I am out of school because of divided family. My mother was wedded to my father but dies when I was at age 6. After the death of my mother, my father had to remarry. After him remarrying, that was when things turned out to be negative for me. I was abused by my step mother and my father could not defend me. After several years of abused, I could not hold the forth so I had to leave home and was housed by a friend who was also staying alone. As kids, we could not guide ourselves properly which led me to becoming pregnant.
After I realised that I was pregnant, I explained to the father of the pregnancy who was also another teenager. He had to deny that he is not responsible for my pregnancy. I had no option but to carry the pregnancy under a difficult situation until I graciously gave birth. Things become difficult after giving birth as I have to take care of myself and the baby. This added responsibility prompted me to visit the newly established vocational centre in my locality an opted that I want to be enrolled so that I could do catering that will bring me the much needed income to take care of my child.