We have recently had a request from our friend Brima James Kabia in Newton. He would like to set up a dressmakers/tailoring business for young people who have missed out on education. He had asked for manual sewing machines and an electric one plus a small generator. We are delighted to say that a charity based in Chesham – ‘Workaid’ – has supplied us with an electric sewing machine plus an assortment of accessories all free of charge (see photograph). So all the Olney Newton Link need to do is pay shipping costs. The manual machines can be purchased in Sierra Leone.
We are looking forward to receiving photos of the workshop in due course – we know it will be a very successful little business and are looking forward to watching it develop.
*Workaid tackle poverty by supplying disadvantaged people with the tools they need to acquire practical skills and become self supporting.
Preschool’s end of term ceremony
We are really pleased to say that all of the hard work has paid off! The Preschool, which we helped to set up in response to the Ebola crisis which killed so many, is now up and running and doing really well.
Set up to look after young orphaned children whilst carers worked, the Preschool has just celebrated it’s first end of term ceremony. We’re told that the children read and sang, prizes were awarded and speeches made. A great success!
The photograpPhotos show (from left to right, rows 1 and 2):
1. Teacher and pupil reading rhymes, with Val King the Chair of the Newton Committee in the background;
2. Prize giving
3. Children reciting rhymes;
4. Mabinty giving welcome address;
5. Speech from Councillor;
6. Pupil reciting a rhyme;
7. Bakkar, secretary of the Newton Committee and Principal of the Institute, giving a vote of thanks;
8. Cross Section of parents and carers.
The Matriculation Ceremony
Yes I know you were all experiencing a milder than usual Christmas this year but in Sierra Leone the temperature was in the upper 30’s . In case you are wondering, no we didn’t tuck in to turkey and all the trimmings followed by an ample portion of Christmas pud!
On 19th December, we drove for 4 hours along a metalled road (believe me that is worth commenting on!), to visit Newton. We had been invited to attend the Matriculation Event – what we would call a Graduation Ceremony – for the first students who had been doing the courses at the Skills Training Centre. This is now known as the Newton Institute and is providing courses in accountancy, business studies, banking, engineering, IT, and sociology. The tutors are from local universities and the students from the local community.
We were greeted like royalty and I hardly have the words powerful enough to describe the gratitude that the people
of Newton have for this facility. People of all ages are now able to study for the qualifications they have been unable to access through restrictions due to the Civil War in the 1990’s, transport problems and more recently the ebola emergency. It was a privilege to be able to join them for the event that day.
From there, we were quickly and proudly ushered to see the Preschool/Day Care Centre. It was not quite where we thought it was going to be as a land dispute, the scourge of Sierra Leone, had meant it had to be moved from the site originally earmarked. This had meant a loss of some building blocks and precious time, but nevertheless good progress has been made and the walls are approx. 4ft high. Since returning to UK we have been able to send some more funds so building has resumed. We were impressed that, because of the clamour for building land, the foundations and walls are being made strong enough to take a second storey if needed in the future. This facility is URGENTLY needed and we still have to get the roof on and the internal fixtures and fittings put in so please continue to support this important work.
The Link is pleased to say that it’s been asked to support the Pineapple Plantation project. The Plantation is a crop being planted by the women of Newton which we first became aware of 2 years ago (when we managed to get a bit of sponsorship from a local company). The women are working really hard to plant thousands of pineapples which will provide an income for their families – a brilliant undertaking which we really hope will provide some badly needed funds.
The plan is to sell some of the fruit to the local juice factory and some will be sold in the markets. Although the project started off very well, things have been badly hindered, both by wildfire and by the Ebola outbreak which killed or disabled a number of the workers. Ebola also stopped social interaction – a serious problem when plantation and harvesting is carried out through teamwork. Last year’s crop was seriously lacking but we’re thrilled that they have started the project again with the usual energy and belief.
Our friend Mabinty from Newton has told usOur business plan is, we decided to seek help from donors to plant 70000 pineapple suckers. We have already planted 20000 last year. This year we have planted 15000. We decided to do it by phases– every year we do the planting as we continue to seek for funds. Out of those plants we will get suckers from after harvest. The first plants suppose to produce this year but was burnt by wildfire. The products we will sell to the factory and fresh market.”
Mabinty has told us that the cost of the pineapple suckers is 300 leones /sucker (5p/sucker) and that they have to pay someone to clear the land. They plan is to make the project self-financing. The ONL intends to send them funds of 250 for this year’s harvest.
As is common in Africa, the women are a major workforce who are often the only breadwinners within the family. However, they also expected to raise the family. You can read more about the PreSchool and how we are trying to raise funds to help them look after the children whilst allowing them to also work in the fields. See under News Post Ebola.