THAT’S NOT HEALTHCARE… SO WHY?
The short answer is Covid. While Sierra Leone and Australia have been fortunate so far, the UK has suffered badly in the pandemic. This has been a blow to fundraising for the London-based Set4Life friends who have been supporting Yiben’s primary and secondary education development.
A path to secondary school
Six years ago the first little group of Class 6 children left the village to begin their high school journey at a school run by UK charity, Educaid. A day’s travel from home, they braved the great unknown to study for and sit the national secondary entrance exam. When they returned home for their first term break, the community called them their ‘Shining Lights’.
In the years since, this has been the path for Yiben students to continue their education, with a few more brave souls joining the Educaid group each year. Even with their generous sponsorship and the support of a wonderful school, it’s been a challenging road for these young people. Each has their own story of struggle, disruption and determination. Mallam has been their constant support, coordinating arrangements, travelling with them, encouraging and advising both students and parents.
Last September, as the new school year was about to begin, the UK group sadly advised that they could no longer fund the growing number of Educaid students. The community and students, grateful for the help they had received, were none-the-less devastated. There was no way that the parents could cover the costs to keep them learning at Educaid. Several had relatives who could help, but ultimately eighteen students had lost their opportunity, including three of the original group who were about to begin their Senior studies.
They asked for our help to continue but on top of our healthcare commitment, it was out of our reach too… until Mallam found a solution. The owner of an almost-built boarding house in Fadugu was willing to lease it for the students. They could move in immediately while the tiling and painting work would continue around them. This we could stretch for! The parents would provide books and uniforms and the community would help with food. Mallam enrolled them in the Fadugu government schools as his wards; and so their new school year began.
With Mallam’s watchful and fatherly guidance, the tightly-knit group of thirteen to nineteen year-olds have settled into their new environment and adjusted to their new schools. They cook together, do their laundry, clean the house and take care of each other. They attend school and extra study classes daily. Being closer to home, they see their families more often and it means the community is more closely involved in the secondary education process.
Passing the national exams at the end of Class 6 and the end of Junior Secondary are great personal achievements for these students and help to raise possibilities and set norms for their community. Those now aiming for their West African Senior School Certificate are proving all things are possible with motivation and opportunity.
We believe that healthcare and education development go hand in hand. We are extremely grateful for like-minded supporters who have made it possible for us to lease the accommodation, install solar lighting and study furniture, pay extra study fees and incidental costs as well as full expenses for orphaned siblings, Sarah and Kumba.
We are still seeking education sponsors at just $20 per month to help us sustain the support for the next school year.