Sowing Seeds in Sierra Leone

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Link to more information on the Sowing a Seed project and previous updates

August 2008

Project Update

Benji Kamara gives an update on the Sowing a Seed project in Sierra Leone

Our voluntary team in Sierra Leone, Common Ground, has recently completed sowing of educational seeds across the country by keeping 901 students in school this year. The Sowing a Seed educational project has also been a huge success by bringing good feelings into the lives of its volunteers, school children and teachers in the Bulkley Valley, as well as friends across Canada and beyond. The project is the talk of Freetown, and brings hope and inspiration for teachers, school children and their parents in Sierra Leone.

Breakdown of Sowing a Seed 2008 beneficiaries:


Eight hundred and nine primary school children were supported through a mixture of uniforms, text books, pamphlets and school materials.

Sixty-five junior secondary school children were supported by paying their yearly school fees.

Eighteen senior secondary children were supported by paying their school fees

Five young women were paid for to continue their nursing school for the whole academic year.

One young woman was provided with a tailoring machine as she is in her final year in tailoring school.

Two young men who volunteered with the project were supported by paying their school fees to complete their studies in computing skills. One young man, also a volunteer, was supported by paying his school fees to continue his career in electrical installation. 

Next steps:

The third term of school is completed for 2007 and we have almost half the money fundraised left to spend. In September, Sowing a Seed will continue to support the existing beneficiaries by paying school fees, materials, etc. for the entire 2008-09 academic year. This will be a huge relief for families, knowing that they won’t have to worry about school fees for the year ahead. We want to keep track of our current beneficiaries and support them through their entire education. We are also looking forward to supporting more beneficiaries if we’re able to, as the demand is never-ending.

Schooling in Sierra Leone

To get the opportunity to go to school, much less finish school, is one of the biggest challenges for young people and their parents in my country. It is really hard for parents to cope with paying for school fees, buying uniforms, and school materials for their children. Most of the families are traders; the only way they can survive is for the whole family to sell things. For example, the mother will be selling “cookery” which is street food in Sierra Leone. The older girls or boys will be selling with their mom, measuring the rice and sauce on plates and attending to customers whiles the younger ones will be roaming around selling cold water in small plastic bags or other small items. Sometimes in businesses like this, each family member has a “catch box” piggy bank to save money, but it adds up very slowly. Even civil servants may not be paid for many months, which adds to the difficulties for many families.

It is a lot of work for some families, and for others I don’t how they do it. This is what worries me; I was in the same situation for numbers of years and I know how its feels because I use to struggle to survive with my parents. I used to sell goods on the street – oranges, water, biscuits - for my mom and dad in order to keep me in school. Lots of families that I know personally and some of my friends who fought in the war as child soldiers are in difficult situations right now. Lots of girls are selling their bodies to make ends meet. Some of them even support their parents from what they are making from the streets.

I can see a brighter future for these girls. They have potential, just as girls do anywhere in the world. If they are given the opportunities, they can be whatever they want. They are strong and beautiful human beings. Giving girls the gift of education gives them the skills to get jobs when they finish school, it gives them choices and it helps give them the confidence to stand up for their rights. Some of these girls are future leaders for Africa and they can do big things if we give them the opportunity. In my culture the woman plays a great role in maintaining the family. I’m not talking about a rich African family, I am talking about the poor and average families. It’s easy for some men to leave the women with the burden of taking care of the children.

One of the things that makes me feel proud of myself and gives me hope and happiness in this universe is making people happy and giving them opportunities. Whenever I read the appreciation letters from school children in Sierra Leone about what Sowing a Seed has done for them and the expressions of their determinations about schooling, it makes me feel like we are really taking a positive action.

Common Ground organization is the managing and voluntary team for Sowing a Seed educational project in Sierra Leone. It’s an organization founded during my last visit to Sierra Leone in November 2007 in order to implement projects there. Recently we’ve finished our early 2008 goal by registering, paying fees, providing school materials and uniforms for students. Learning materials were bought from book sellers who are local traders in Freetown. Photocopied textbooks were also bought from schools – this is a source of income for schools to help them run the school. Uniforms were bought from local traders as well. Another project that Common Ground is initiating is the idea to establish a trade school for young people. 

This project has benefited thousands of people because of the ripple effect through families, community, and the economy. Everyone who has benefited is extremely grateful for the inspired support this project has received.


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