The Newton Preschool – January 2017

Excellent news from Newton today, 26th January 2017. At last the end is in sight for the completion of the Newton Preschool. Registration has begun and this is a photograph of some of the children who will attend. We hope to shortly have photographs of the opening day.

The project was proposed in the autumn of 2014 but became more urgent as the Ebola crisis took hold.  The Newton Committee had perceived a need for a Preschool in order to enable young women, especially those who have taken on the care of Ebola orphans, to work and thereby supplement the family income.  To date we have sent £25,000 and a carton of toys and other ‘educational ‘ materials.  We have also provided a water well at a cost of approximately £3000, which will serve both the preschool and the Olney Institute next door.

Inflation in Sierra Leone is currently running at about 10%.  At the beginning of December the SL government raised the cost of fuel by a whopping 40%, from 4300Leones/litre to 6000Leones /litre thereby sending up the cost of most commodities. The treasurer, Mabinty Sesay, sends us accounts several times a year so that we know what they are buying with the money we send.


What does the Newton Committee spend the money on?






These are photos of the team hard at work building the new school.


So how has the money been spent? Basically on a standard set of materials that any builder would recognise. Initially foundations must be dug and then building blocks made. These are made of concrete, a longer lasting material than the mud blocks used for local housing. Cement has to be imported and the cost varies considerably.  Sand is extracted from the local beaches, a practice much criticised by environmentalists. We were intrigued to hear that the Newton committee had decided to include extra strengthening of the walls so that a second storey could be added at some future date. Land is something else that is becoming more expensive on an almost daily basis.

Roofing materials are then required. The most durable material is zinc, again this has to be imported and the price varies considerably. Doors and windows need to be made of metal to prevent termite damage, again all must be imported.

Other materials purchased are what anyone needs for building: nails, boards, iron rods, plaster, paint etc. and  of course, payment to the workmen. The average pay is approximately £1/hour. There is no machinery such as a JCB or concrete mixer, everything has to be done by hand.


Why does the cost of projects like this rise?

Firstly, we ask for an estimate of cost before we undertake a project BUT we have learned from experience that these are very unreliable. The way business is done in Third World Countries is a far cry from UK practices.  Builders, architects, plumbers etc. are self-taught and the idea of tendering for a job such as building a school is not understood. This also means they cannot always see in advance what is likely to be needed.

Secondly a small charity like ours cannot raise money quickly, we can only send money as we get it. As there are no credit facilities available in Sierra Leone the Newton committee can only purchase materials as the money comes in. In the meantime, the costs have risen.

Thirdly we are at the mercy of the exchange rate. An increase in the rate is good news in one way as we get more Leones for our £ BUT the cost of imported materials rises too.


A remarkable achievement?

Against this backdrop, plus many more problems such as heavy rains, the Newton Committee and Mabinty in particular have succeeded in building a preschool for at least 100 disadvantaged children. A remarkable achievement. I hope you agree and will continue to support the work of the Olney-Newton Link.

Rachel Lintern



A roof for the new Preschool

We’re nearly there!  Our friends in Newton have sent us photographs of the new Preschool roof being built (sent July 2016). Fingers crossed the building will be in use by September this year.

June 2017   June 2016 (2)

Updates on the Preschool, December 2015

Building the new Preschool

Building work begins

Over Christmas, we are pleased to say that residents from Olney were finally able to visit their friends in Newton again (Ebola has meant no flights for over a year).  The Preschool is well underway, despite a few teething problems, and the walls are now approximately 4ft high.  Due to a need for finances (see below), building is currently at a halt, and the ONL is discussing whether it can help. A water well is also needed to serve both the Skills Training Centre and the Preschool.  A borehole has been started but needs more work.

 Construction headaches

Sadly the Preschool has been set by difficulties, partly due to the very intense rainy season (see ‘Flooding’ in the News section).  However, the Preschool has also been impacted by a common West African problem – land disputes.  Land disputes are a real problem in Sierra Leone as there are virtually no written records of who owns what. This is mainly due to title deeds being destroyed by rebels during the Civil War.  Similar problems happen in the UK, although thankfully less frequently – it’s known as ‘acquiring ownership by adverse possession’.

The Olney Newton Link Committee in Newton believed that they had bought a piece of land the size of ‘3 town lots’ for the Preschool and started to build.  Then sadly someone laid claim to the land and won the case.  Consequently everything has had to move!  The Committee is now using the land next to the Skills Training Centre – land definitely in their ownership but which had previously been earmarked for the expansion of the Centre.  They have ensured that the foundations and walls are strong enough so that, if necessary, they can extend upwards.

The Skills Training Centre, with building work next door

Both time and building materials have suffered.  However, it is hoped that with support from the Olney Newton Link, and with the precious dry spell of weather underway, the situation can be quickly recovered.

Building a new Preschool – December 2015

We live in a country which loves its children.  Imagine if a British child lost its mum and dad and maybe its brothers and sisters too – our hearts would go out to them. It has been reported that 3,912 people have died from Ebola in Sierra Leone (BBC news 8th June 2015).  Thousands of children have lost their mums, dads, brothers and sisters.  There are horrific stories where houses have been entered, only to find the whole household dead and one little child sitting alone.  Children from Newton

In Newton, 105 children have lost parents and are now being looked after by single parents, extended family or friends.  Many of these people are working or have other things which keep them from full time childcare. There is no such things as a ‘State Benefits’ system in Sierra Leone – you have to work to stay alive.

We need your help now.  Can you help us to raise £10,000 to build a new ‘Preschool’?  This school will provide care during daytime hours.  The Committee in Newton (Olney Newton Link) have told us that it’s desperately needed.

 Handouts for the children  preschool coloured sketch

The scheme proposes that a building will be constructed (sketch above) to accommodate 105 children.  There will be 3 rooms (20x30ft) with a large covered veranda, staff room/ office and store room (10x15ft).  At the present rate of exchange, it is expected to cost approximately £10,000 to build – not a large amount compared to UK prices!

Please help!  It’s desperately needed – lives have been devastated.

See the page on this website titled ‘how you can help’

Continue reading “Building a new Preschool – December 2015”

Cheese and Wine Evening, Saturday 30th April

Cheese wine night

Socialise with your neighbours and enjoy some nibbles and a glass of wine!

Come and join us for a lovely evening at 34 Carey Way, Olney.  We can promise great company and lovely food. Saturday 30th April 2016 at 7.30pm.
R.S.V.P. to Rachel on: 01234 711751 or Anne on: 01234 711196. Email:

Proceeds will be used to help us complete and furnish the Pre-school in Newton.

Proposal to build Preschool/Day Care Centre

The consequences of the ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone are many and varied, one of them being the effect on children.  Many died during the outbreak and many lost one parent or both parents or the person who was looking after them at the time.

Although not quite so badly hit as in some areas of Sierra Leone the people in Newton are no exception so they have put forward a plan for a Preschool/Day Care Centre for vulnerable children.

The proposal is for a building to accommodate 105 children plus teachers and helpers.  Not only will it help the children but more women will be able to work in places such as the Pineapple Plantation and contribute to the family income.

preschool coloured sketch

The scheme appears to propose 3 rooms of 20ft x 30ft accessed off a covered veranda, with at one end a Staff Room / Office, with a store room leading off this.  Each room being 10ft x 15ft.  [The sketch above is based upon a sketch plan  received from Mabinty]

This seems to be compatible with the approach to the Skills Training Centre and the schools we visited.

We have received an estimate of the cost of building this facility which at the present rate of exchange is approx £9,000.  This facility is urgently needed.


  • Donations can be made through Virgin Money Giving, or to Tricia our treasurer (phone 712919).
  • Perhaps you would consider becoming one of our corporate sponsors, details from Anne (phone 711196).
  • Would you consider giving a small amount each month by Standing Order, Tricia has the details for this.

Many thanks indeed for all your support, past and present. I can assure you it is greatly appreciated by the people of Newton.

Rachel Lintern

Soup Lunch, Friday 29th March

Soup lunch

Warm up with a tasty bowl of soup and great company.

We have a limited number of places available for our soup lunch.  On Friday 29th March, at 34 Carey Way, Olney. Sittings avaliable from 11.45am.  Donations for lunches for the Olney Newton Link would be appreciated.
Tickets available by ringing 01234 711751 or 01234 712540.

Toilet block at Newton Junction opened!

At last the toilet block near Newton Junction and Skills Centre is open. Formally opened by Mohamed Sesay who organised the project.
There are 4 cubicles and a hand-washing bay, all enclosed within this new building.

IMG-20150128-WA0004 IMG-20150128-WA0007 IMG-20150128-WA0006 IMG-20150128-WA0005
In April 2014 the block looked like this:
Entrance at this end!