Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

We are raising funds for the Rogbere Community Development. Download the brochure here.

A Call to Business as a UK charity first visited Sierra Leone in 2007, when UN sanctions and roadblocks were in place, following the 10-year conflict that had torn the country apart at almost every level. The capital, Freetown was thrown into darkness every night, with no power to generate lighting and the country was vying with Malawi for the dubious distinction of being the poorest nation on the globe.  Some of the qualities that have shone through all the difficulties are the resilience of Sierra Leoneans, their extraordinary ability to forgive and their capacity to embrace opportunities for self-help with both hands and make life better for their families. We have seen this at first-hand over and over again.

A Call to Business has, through its partner, Truestone (a regulated private equity business), seen many millions invested into this nation to stimulate enterprise, recognising economic activity, particularly stimulation of small-medium sized businesses, as key to transforming the nation. In 2008 A Call to Business Trading Ltd was the first of several businesses to be established and, in the following nine years, it grew exponentially.  In May 2017 the company was granted a deposit taking license by the Central Bank of Sierra Leone, becoming the first credit-only microfinance institution in the country to transition into savings and loans – actb Savings & Loans Ltd.  More information is available on the company’s website http://savingsandloans.sl/

However, in a country where around one out of every ten children dies before the age of 5 and the average life expectancy is 51 for males and 52 for females there is a huge amount of need which cannot be tackled simply from a commercial perspective.

An unfolding vision

As well as opening the way for business development in the capital, in 2007 A Call to Business embarked on a journey which led to community development in Rogbere, a rural area of Sierra Leone where tin-roofed huts and cooking on open fires were the norm and where the basic human needs of education, clean water and shelter were limited. Many years later we have seen not only the establishment of a school, a home for disabled children, pastoral care and community projects but also the emergence of an economic engine and activities.

Rogbere is one of a cluster of some 20 villages in the Koyo Rural Ward, some 26 miles from the capital Freetown. 

The big picture is to see Rogbere transformed from a struggling community with a history of dependency on aid to a thriving commercial hub, providing both employment and business opportunities for the local people.

The Senior Management Team of the actb Group in Freetown agreed together that if you could see a community like Rogbere transformed there was hope for every community in Sierra Leone, and took on the responsibility for the project. We agree wholeheartedly with them, and continue to be involved in planning, mentoring and fund-raising, particularly in these early days of transition and immense responsibility.  Many of the staff in Freetown have also stepped up to the challenge, donating a gift from their salary each month to help resource the work.

The shift from ‘outside’ aid to management from Freetown has already made an impact in the thinking and expectations of the community. The Foundation has established a Hydraform brick production company, all profits to go into under-writing the costs of running the School and Home.  A poultry farm has been established and other businesses are planned, all of this with a view to providing not only employment and training but also financial resources.

 

Ro-Seleneh Home for disabled children (House of Hope)

With little State provision for people with disabilities in Sierra Leone and widespread ignorance and prejudice towards people with these conditions, disabled people are either totally neglected or used by unscrupulous people as a way of making money.

Ro-Seleneh is home to some 40 disabled children ranging from around 6 years through to 19/20. Some are physically disabled, some mentally and some both. Physical disabilities are mainly a result of polio or cerebral palsy; other conditions include epilepsy, autism, hydrocephalus, microcephaly and incontinence. 

Some will one day be independent and able to build their own lives; others will always need care and a home.

Ro-Seleneh is blessed to have input from a team of dedicated physiotherapists who advise on treatment and special equipment, prescribing bespoke therapy and exercises for each individual child. They have trained our staff to handle these exercises, which benefits both children and staff and further breaks down barriers and old mindsets which say that people with disability are worth less than nothing.

A major challenge is with regard to future expansion of the Home to provide sheltered housing for those children with mental disability or acute physical problems who will not be able to care for themselves and don’t have a family willing to care for them.  With very few facilities in Sierra Leone for such as these, our dream would be for Ro-Seleneh to be their permanent home.

The children

The children’s backgrounds vary.  A few are orphans, others have been handed over by families who are unable to care for them adequately.  Some come from families who simply don’t care or think the child is demonised and a few were rescued from begging on the streets.  Here are some of their stories.

 

Rogbere Schools of Excellence

Education is still not seen as a priority by many parents, and Sierra Leone is a long way from seeing girls fully integrated into school, with many families seeing them as only useful for marriage and domestic work.  Ensuring that good education is available to all the children in Rogbere and the surrounding villages is a high priority for ACTB.

Rogbere School of Excellence opened its doors in September 2010 as a Junior Secondary School, catering for 12-15 year olds. After being run by an external organisation for five years, the actb Foundation took over management in September 2016, with a desire to have greater input into the school and its growth.

Morie Saffa, School Principal and his team of dedicated teachers completed the first year of operations in July 2017 with some 200 students, 102 of whom were boarders. All 42 Year 3 students successfully passed the national BECE exam, which all JSS students must achieve in order to go on to senior education.

In countries where education is taken for granted it is sometimes hard to grasp how precious it is in nations such as Sierra Leone.

Catherine Koroma, one of our JSS 3 students, shares her story:

“I was admitted in to this school by chance two years ago. Someone told my mother that there was a boarding school in a remote village a little off the Bo highway and that the school was offering quality education. On our way to the school mummy was wondering whether she would be able to afford the boarding fees. To our surprise the Principal admitted me and told us that I would not pay anything and would be supplied with exercise books, pens and pencils. We could hardly believe it.

I soon learned that this was just the beginning of many opportunities in the school. Each pupil was provided with a bed and breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Three meals in one day was a strange experience for me – at home we had only one meal.

We were given exercise books, pens, pencils, erasers and for boarding students also soap, laundry soap and Vaseline.  What has made us appreciate these provisions more is that we are supplied with these items every month. As for the feeding, our three solid meals are as constant as the Northern Star.

But the greatest of all is that we do not pay school fees or any form of school charges. In addition, our teachers do not demand money from us like they do in other schools. If we fall ill, our Principal quickly takes us to the hospital where we are given immediate free treatment.

We are very happy at school. In fact, mummy has told me that no other school in this whole country is providing such opportunities free of cost. We are very thankful to ACTB, our Principal and our teachers”.

Senior Secondary

In January 2018, with pleas from the community and strong encouragement from the teachers themselves, the first Senior Secondary class was established, made up of some of the successful BECE students. The plan is to add a new Class 1 each year over the next three years, aiming that by September 2020 there will be a fully functioning Senior Secondary School.

This is an ambitious step on a number of fronts, the most pressing being to plan and build further facilities to house the Senior Secondary School. While it can function within the existing campus for the time being, new buildings will be essential by September 2019.

 

An Economic Engine

Attempting to break dependency on outside aid is a key goal for the development programme in Rogbere.  As noted in “An Unfolding Vision”, the main business in Freetown (actb Savings & Loans) has taken on the considerable responsibility for this work, with many of the management and staff getting involved personally.

A key part of the strategy is to establish an ‘economic engine’ in Rogbere through businesses, not only providing employment for the local community but whose profits will ultimately underwrite the running costs of the Home and Schools. 

The first and foundational business in this strategy is ROGBERE BRICKS, with a second – FRONTLINE CHICKENS – also now emerging.

More details in the Rogbere Community Development booklet here.

Get involved

We would love you to join us and the team in Freetown on this amazing journey.  Whether as an individual or involving others, there are great opportunities to contribute financially and practically on the ground.

GIVING - INDIVIDUAL OR CORPORATE

There are a variety of ways to help financially with the Home and Schools from monthly sponsorship to cover basic costs to occasional donations to help with small/medium sized special needs or even large infrastructure projects.

 

£25/$30 per month

£100/$130 per month

 

covers the costs of a student in one of the schools, including tuition, resources, accommodation and food (boarders)

 

covers the costs for each child in Ro-Seleneh Home, including accommodation, food, clothing, medical care/prescription drugs, school fees (where necessary), wheelchairs and staff costs

 

Regular essentials and large one-off projects

 

Whether replacing essential items such as mosquito nets, school supplies, wheelchairs, computers and sports equipment or sponsoring larger one-off projects there is always a ‘wish list’ to choose from.  Current items can be viewed here.

 

YES I WOULD LIKE TO DONATE

  • Donations of any amount are welcome, whether providing full sponsorship or a contribution towards total costs
  • If you are a UK tax payer donations are eligible for Gift Aid, adding a further 25% to your gift
  • Email marjie.sutton@acalltobusiness.co.uk for up-to-date detailsor further information on any of the above

Give as you Live – donate to Rogbere whenever you do on-line shopping!

Did you know you can raise free funds for us every time you shop online? Simply shop via @GiveasyouLive and each purchase you make will raise money!

  • Give as you Live is an online fundraising platform where you can shop at over 4100 top stores and raise free funds for charity at no additional cost to you 
  • Sign up and support A Call to Business - the store pays Give as you Live a percentage of your total purchase price in commission and 50% of this will be passed on to ACTB and used exclusively to support the Home and Schools in Rogbere.
  • Visit https://www.giveasyoulive.com/join/a-call-to-business and sign up today!

INVOLVE OTHERS

Why not mobilise your friends, business or church to be involved in partnership with the work in Sierra Leone, both through financial donations and also by people giving of their time and talents on the ground in short-term visits.

Email marjie.sutton@acalltobusiness.co.uk to start a conversation today

 

ADVANCE NOTICE ….

On Sunday 2nd December 2018 the first ever actb Savings & Loans 10k run is being held in Sierra Leone, open to all comers.  Further details will be posted on this website as they become available.  Email marjie.sutton@acalltobusiness.co.uk to be kept informed on this event.

 

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