Creating Opportunities for All

The idea for COFA grew out of several years of funding small projects in education, agriculture, clean water, and microfinance in the west African country of Sierra Leone, with funding from COFA’s founder, her friends and family, and Gofundme campaigns.

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What We Do

Nourishing Young Minds & Bodies - COFA

Nourishing Young Minds and Bodies

This month-long school and feeding program operates during July-August, when food supplies are lowest and many people subsist on a single meal each day, and when the regular schools are closed. Initiated in 2020 in four schools and paid for privately by COFA’s founder and a Gofundme campaign, since 2022 it has received foundation funding to support classroom teaching and provide daily lunch in 11 schools in the Lunsar region for more than 2,500 primary- and secondary-school students. The program provides a month’s salary to the teachers and the local women who prepare the daily lunch. For the last two years, the project also supported local young men and women, previously unemployed, who grew the rice used for meals, on land rented by COFA.

In addition, COFA provided funding to construct a toilet building for one of the schools which had no toilet facility for students or teachers.

Growing Family Prosperity

In November 2023, the first “graduating class” of 30 families successfully completed this 12-month agricultural support program, and are launched into self-sufficiency, and a new class of 25 families has been enrolled. In its first year, GFP—known locally as the agric program— provided basic farming supplies and guidance to 30 of the most impoverished households in six rural communities, to enable families to grow crops for family consumption and a surplus to sell in local markets. All supplies and salaries for the project manager—a trained Sierra Leonean agronomist—and extension workers were funded by COFA. Participants received field training from the project staff to grow rice, groundnuts, cucumbers, peppers, okra, cassava, and potatoes. In addition, each family was given pairs of goats and chickens. Harvests and seed banking, for future crops, took place over the course of the year. Families set aside some of the profits from each crop to purchase needed inputs for the next growing season. COFA will continue to provide advice and will monitor the families’ progress over the coming year. All indications are that these families will continue their progress. See the November blog to meet the agric families in one village, Gbomlimba.

Growing Family Prosperity - COFA
Expanding Access to Clean Water - COFA

Expanding Access to Clean Water

COFA has teamed with WaterStep, a US-based non-profit, to increase access to clean water in the region. WaterStep generously donated chlorination and bleach-making equipment for 11 installations. Once established, the only consumable needed is simple table salt. Each station requires an additional investment for storage containers and batteries to power the chlorination equipment, plus a small monthly stipend to the project manager. These stations are providing clean water at schools and health facilities, and many neighborhoods around Lunsar. Separate generators have also been supplied that produce bleach, which can be sold to health facilities and households, to offset costs.

ReSeed Microfinance

Building on the success of a 2021 pilot program, privately funded by the COFA founder, COFA has teamed with the Vision 8 Sierra Leonean charity to make small loans to individuals and some groups to support their businesses. The pilot program had 25 projects, chosen from several hundred applications, and which nearly all repaid the loans within the six-month repayment period. Most loan recipients are women, many single parents, or with husbands who are unable to find work in the stressed economy, and their earnings provide food and basic necessities for their families. ReSeed has expanded slowly as funds have become available, including a larger loan in the city of Bo to a woman opening a new small restaurant.

COFA - Reseed Microfinance
Bike Library - COFA

Bike Libraries

In Sierra Leone, girls are at greater risk for dropping out of school, and one reason is the difficulty in getting to school. There is no transport offered, and in rural areas, it can be more than five miles each way. In the past 10 years, The Village Bike project has established “bike libraries” at a number of schools, focusing mainly on girls, to facilitate their attendance. COFA is teaming with The Village Bike Project to support and expand the VBP’s existing bike libraries into the rural Port Loko District, and to offer bikes to both boys and girls who need them.

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How You Can Help

All contributions to COFA are used to directly fund projects. COFA has no staff and Directors receive no compensation for their time or reimbursement for expenses. Legal and auditing fees come from donations by COFA’s founder. Every dollar you contribute will be used for the project that you choose, or if unrestricted, for one of COFA’s projects in need of funds.

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