SIERRA LEONE MINISTRY
International Aid Trust has had a presence in Sierra Leone since 2009 and the headquarters of International Aid Trust are situated in the town of Lungi from here practical and pastoral support goes out to the four geographic regions.
Our director in Sierra Leone is Rev Michael Fofanah who leads a full time staff of 21.
Current International Aid Trust projects in Sierra Leone
The International Aid projects in Sierra Leone including an education programme based on the New Hope School which encompasses a Health Clinic and a free Nutritional Programme. Care for the family is also a priority for IAT and the Family Sponsorship Programme and the Rescue Children’s Project are able to cater for the neediest. While water and clean sanitation are the focus of the Water well and safe drinking water Project. Training and self-employment opportunities are catered for by the Sewing Project from which ladies are coached in seamstress skills. The Pastoral Programme looks after the welfare needs of those in hospital, home or prison, while the New Hope Church provides spiritual support and missionary outreach to the general community.
New Hope School
New Hope School started as a thatched structure with fifteen school children in 2009. But it was on the verge of passing as a failed education and feeding project when IAT provided support. The community elders gifted us with a piece of land (we later bought the adjoining land) on which New Hope School was built. The number of children rose from an initial fourteen to the present five hundred and fifty pupils who receive predominantly free education at the school. We currently employ nine teachers. The school feeding program has made a huge difference in the lives of these children from abjectly poor homes. They look a lot healthier, happier and hopeful for a better future – but we would dearly love to do more. Unfortunately, due to certain limitations in the scope of our operations, the school could not admit all the children that have the ambition and dream to start or continue their schooling at New Hope School. However, the policies, output, atmosphere, environment and conduct of our school activities continue to be an inspiration to other schools in the Lungi community. New Hope School continues to set the pace for other schools in terms of how to treat and relate to children without having to physically or verbally abuse them. We work to provide an enabling platform on which children could grow into gentle, polite, loving and god-fearing individuals.
The school teachers, led by head teacher Mrs. Alice Fofanah are enthusiastic in their transfer of knowledge to the children. All of them go through an annual re-assessment before their annual contracts are renewed. The school administration is planning to incorporate a mentorship and training program for the teachers.
Christian values and lessons are incorporated into the school curriculum by involving all the pupils and staff in what is a predominately Muslim community.
In a bid to enhance performance, a special committee of three experienced teachers was formed to monitor and supervise lesson notes, teaching materials, examination questions, and grades of pupils before they are entered into report cards.
Refresher training for teachers on the national school syllabus to enhance effective teaching and learning is organized by IAT Sierra Leone annually. This refresher training is done in consultation with stake holders in education in the Province and officers of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST). Feedback from staff is always positive and they show evident appreciation for the trainings.
Determined to maintain an effective and committed staff, IAT encourages and supports staff to upgrade their skills and knowledge. At the moment a total of six (6) staff members are undergoing Teachers training courses at different levels in Teachers Certificate and Higher Teacher’s Certificate.
Though constrained financially to do so, it is IAT Sierra Leone’s dream to upgrade the levels of formal education of all the teachers at the school to enhance the quality of their work in the classroom.
The School Clinic
A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in world and places the country as the most difficult place on earth for pregnant women and suckling mothers. This is very evident in the locality where IAT Sierra Leone operates. Despite the government’s recent effort to curb this problem the number of deaths in this category remains very high.
New Hope is the only school that has a clinic in the entire Lungi community and it is already complementing the efforts of the government of Sierra Leone in reducing the maternal and infant mortality rates in the country. The clinic caters for the immediate medical needs of the children of New Hope school, the staff and members of our church congregation. The clinic is an opportunity to provide practical evangelism to the wider community which, with financial support, can be expaned.
The assorted medical consumables we receive from our donors immensely benefit the school clinic. They enhanced the efficient treatment of the school children whenever such items are needed to administer medical aid to the kids. IAT also support the Lungi community hospital with medical provisions, the lack of which played a major role in the spread of the Ebola virus and its devastating consequences. The midwife also makes great use of the items in her community outreach endeavors.
School Feeding Project
International Aid Trust Sierra Leone New Hope School feeding program has become an integral part of the diet of many children, especially the ones from the poorest homes and orphans who have increased in number as a result of the deadly Ebola virus disease that took the country by storm in 2014. For many children it is their only proper meal and it serves as a motivation for their continuous school attendance. The act of feeding these impoverished and vulnerable school children portrays an act of the limitless Christian compassion and love. It also serves as a huge testimony to the larger Muslim community that the love and compassion of Christ on which IAT was founded knows no boundaries.
However, strong challenges are currently being faced by IAT Sierra Leone as a result of the sharp increase in food prices in the country. A bag of rice (50kg) used to cost Le 140,000 but it is now sold at Le 220,000. The price of cooking oil (20lt) used to be Le 112,000. Its current price is Le 185,000. Fish used to be Le 100,000. Now Le 200,000. The prices of all other cooking condiments have doubled in just less than four months.
IAT has introduced a mid-wife service to bridge the gap between pregnant women and new mothers since many are fearful of attending hospital due to cost, stigma and misconceptions they receive from traditional birth attendants about hospital care. The mid-wife educates women from the wider community about the dangers of home birth and the benefits of hospital care. A post-natal service is provided to ensure that hygiene procedures are followed, vaccinations are provided and education on the subjects of mother care and family planning. Other services involving vitamin supplements, re-hydration for children suffering from severe diarrhoea and the use of bed nets by women and children to protect them from malarial mosquitoes are complimentary to the work of the mid-wife service.
Family Sponsorship programme
International Aid Trust Sierra Leone provides spiritual, psychosocial and monetary support to the neediest people in the Lungi communities via its Sponsorship Program. The organisation continues to reach out to people most in need in our communities, expand the kingdom of God and win more souls for Christ. The Sponsorship Program is funded by compassionate Christians in the UK through IAT. These people have provided monthly sums of money to impoverished, the physically challenged, amputees and orphans, and to those at the very bottom of the economic table in our communities.
The program is headed by the Sponsorship Manager appointed by the Country director. The Sponsorship Manager administers the program by disbursing funds to the beneficiaries and keeps track of the impact the funding makes in the lives of beneficiaries. He also heads other side activities (organising visits to the beneficiaries, prayer meetings with them, counseling, reacting to emergencies) that IAT Sierra Leone has included as part of the support they receive under the oversight of the Country Director.
The program has impacted the lives of beneficiaries in the most positive ways possible. All of them now have shelters and decent clothes to put on, are in good health and are now sure of their daily bread; to the glory of the Most High God. In the midst of all this, the Sponsorship Manager and his team make it a duty to minister to our Sponsorship Program beneficiaries
The impact of Ebola virus disease outbreak in the country on the lives of the beneficiaries of the direct financial aid program through IAT Sierra Leone cannot be overemphasized. But notwithstanding all the hurdles that coupled economic, psychological and social difficulties, they miraculously survived the Ebola outbreak period, thanks in large part to the direct financial assistance they received from the sponsors in the UK. The beneficiaries give the IAT Sierra Leone team updates on how they spend the income they receive to sustain themselves and their families. They always demonstrate an attitude of appreciation towards IAT and their sponsors.
Water Well & Safe Drinking Water Project
IAT Sierra Leone aimed to provide access to safe drinking water for over 100 families through the provision of 10 manually-dug wells in Lungi by the end of 2015. A lot of the villages IAT targeted never had a source of safe drinking water. However, due to financial constraints and the deadly Ebola scourge that followed in 2014, only 3 water wells could be provided for these desperate communities. The objectives of the project were clear:
To spread the Word of Christ
through these social projects,
To mitigate the causes of waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, worms etc. especially among children who are the most vulnerable.
To improve the overall health of these village people through the provision of access to safe drinking water.
To raise awareness and educate the villagers on the importance they must give to the water they drink to consequently reduce the mortality rate associated with waterborne diseases.
The impacts of the water well project were enormous. More than 30 families already have access to safe drinking water. The reduction of waterborne illnesses was immediate in these families. Young babies and children are healthier and have a greater probability to escape dying before they reach the age of 5. There is also the increased awareness of the prominence of safe drinking water. Finally, the water wells have served as entry points for the witnessing of our Christian faith in these predominantly Muslim communities.
Having seen all these positive impacts of the Water Well Project in the lives of these impoverished village people, IAT Sierra Leone dearly wish to do more by expanding the scope of the project to reach more communities and families in Lungi, but we are seriously constrained financially to carry out these projects.
Rescue Children’s Project
The Eleona Homes RCP project supported by Salvatore and Hugh is going on progressively. A water well has been dug in the construction site and it has now begun to serve its purpose. The home shall serve as a safe haven, especially for some street children from broken/poverty-stricken homes and those orphaned by the deadly Ebola virus that very recently ravaged the country.
These children face enormous challenges growing up without their parents. Some of the challenges like hunger, lack of shelter and clothing, lack of access to basic health care could prevent them from having a meaningful future and upbringing. The benefits of being raised in a Christian atmosphere without having to worry or struggle for what to eat, where to sleep and what to wear would be:
Growing into loving and gentle characters/personalities
Being cared for by guardians
Growing in a secure environment
Not exposed to abuses of all sorts
(being used as domestic servants, physical and sexual abuse, etc.)
They will grow in the peace and love of the Lord as good Christians
Receiving a formal education and hence, the guarantee of a bright future
Upon finishing this current one, and due to the rising number of street kids, IAT Sierra Leone aims to expand this project to other parts of Lungi and Sierra Leone by extension by the loving grace of God and through the financial support of our selfless donors.
The Sewing Project
IAT Sierra Leone recognises that in the rural setting that education and training are powerful tools against poverty and hunger, and for women’s empowerment.
Skilled/Educated women are more likely to be healthier as a result of their ability to earn and plan their lives properly. Evidence in some rural communities have shown, that women who are empowered through formal education or skills are also more likely to ensure that their own children are educated, thus breaking the cycle of poverty and hunger.
It is based on these findings that the IAT Sierra Leone Country Director envisaged the Sewing Skills Training program to empower community women and open the door of economic independence for them.
If all the required conditions are met through the availability of needed resources to make the Sewing Project a reality, these women, after training:
– Will be gainfully self-employed.
– Will be able to sew clothes for themselves and their households.
– Will be able to build on their financial strength and economic independence
– Will have improved self-esteem and respect in their households and communities.
– Can afford to contribute to their children’s education, health and general wellbeing.
– Will be empowered to meaningfully contribute to the welfare of their communities through the new skills acquired.
IAT Sierra Leone dearly hopes that this project will one day be a reality for women in Lungi. It is also our hope for resources for an expansion of the project to other communities in future.
Pastoral Programme (Home, Hospital, Amputee and Prison Visitations)
The IAT Sierra Leone team makes it a priority to pay weekly home visits to members of New Hope Church, especially the sick, the elderly and those that have been unable to attend Sunday Services. This trend is followed throughout the year. Some of the main objectives of such visitations are to bring the message of hope to our brothers and sisters, to let them feel belong and thought of, to share the love of God with them, pray with them, cheer them up and bring smiles to their faces no matter the circumstances we may find them in.
IAT Sierra Leone organises periodic visits to the hospital to commune and fellowship with the sick. The doctor in charge is always prepared to receive IAT members and continually expresses gratitude for the hospital’s partnership with IAT Sierra.
In the same vein, we periodically pay visits to the correctional centre to preach the message of hope, salvation and forgiveness to inmates. It is usually a moment of reflection and unusual interaction for the inmates who are normally changed and transformed by our messages before they are released from custody.
We also often organise visits to a home for traumatised amputees. It is always a heart-warming experience as we fellowship and commune with them. We share stories, jokes and the team always gives counselling to the amputees when it is needed. Additionally, we never go to visit these people empty-handed as we always bring along gifts from what we receive in containers from our donors in the UK. Many amputees have received prosthetic limbs, wheel chairs and mobility aids. Many more are needed to address the serious challenge facing amputees.
New Hope Church
IAT’s New Hope Church continues to be a spiritual blessing to (many communities)the Tombo Bana community and Lungi at large. New members are welcomed at every Sunday service as the membership keeps steadily rising. The work of the Lord is evident in their lives as we witness their gradual transformations after receiving and accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and personal Saviour.
Services is held every Sunday morning plus the church organises midweek bible study sessions on Tuesdays. These sessions always present an opportunity and platform on which members can discuss God’s word at lengths, share their knowledge and ideas in a Christian family atmosphere. IAT Sierra Leone also encourages the membership of the church meets on Thursday evenings for “Jericho Hour” a time of fellowship and conducts an all-night service of prayer on every last Friday of every month.
New Hope Church organises weekly visitations to the homes of new members, and those members of the church that are ill and to the abjectly poor and physically challenged. Selected members from among the church workers are chosen to give free psychosocial counselling services to these very vulnerable and need support.
IAT Sierra Leone’s compassionate work has developed a positive in the wider Muslim community for the care and nurture provided to orphan and malnourished babies. Most of the babies brought to us lost their mothers during childbirth. We want to change this by developing a prevention programme to reduce maternal mortality so that the mothers will be alive to care for their babies with our support. IAT Sierra Leone now has a Mid-wife who works on full time and her intervention is already impacting greatly. This is also an effective way of evangelizing to the Muslim community.