April Updates

COFA’s work is moving along on several fronts, with new achievements in agricultural self-empowerment and expanding education. It’s exciting to see the progress!

Here are some updates.

 

GROWING FAMILY PROSPERITY

The harvest of the first crop has begun!  A fast-growing leafy vegetable, krain krain—aka jute—is the first crop ready for picking by COFA-supported farmers.  Like other leafy greens, krain krain is packed with vitamins and fiber.  Check out this video for a local recipe (you might have trouble finding some of the ingredients).  Kadiata Kanu and Ramatu Kanu (not related!) have picked and bunched krain krain for sale at their local markets. The hard work is paying off, the first crop fulfilling the project goals of improving agricultural skills while aiding household menus and budgets.

Kadiatu Kanu from Gbom Limba Village

 

Ramatu Kanu from Konta Village

Ramatu Kanu from Konta Village

 

BAI BUREH HERITAGE FOUNDATION BIKE LIBRARY

Bike Library

In early April 2022, 15 bicycles were delivered to the Bai Bureh Heritage Foundation in Port Loko to establish a new bike library, for students who previously spent hours walking at least 10 miles to school every day. The Village Bicycle Project in Seattle, Washington, sponsors this program, with funding from COFA. The project is designed to encourage good scholarship.  Students can borrow the library bikes for as long as they maintain good attendance, are promoted to the next grade every year, and take care of their bikes. COFA and VBP coordinator Karim Kamara and his VBP staff have trained the students in safe riding and basic bike maintenance and will make major repairs and an annual maintenance check. Karim started bike libraries five years ago at various schools, with an emphasis on girls, to help keep them in school longer. The schools keep track of the students’ grades and attendance and report to Karim. He’s got clear evidence that the bikes improve the scores on both counts. And we’ve got clear evidence that bikes cause shy smiles…

 

SCHOOLS

SLMB Primary School

Another COFA goal is expanding educational opportunities, including grants to build classrooms and schools. The first initiative was a toilet building in 2022 at the Mile 91 primary school, and the second is a new building at the overcrowded SLMB Primary School, which will be completed in 2023.

Building under construction at SLMB Primary School

 

King Kama Primary School

COFA has been funding the lunch program at King Kama for two years, and for the last year, has been providing stipends for the teachers. It’s the only primary school in Lunsar that provides lunch, currently serving 220 youngsters.

Karim interviewed a mother of students attending King Kama, who told him that she lost her husband during the pandemic, leaving her with three young children. She struggled to provide one meal a day for them. When she heard about the lunch program at King Kama, she got them enrolled. She wanted to thank the funders, and tell them that this program is having a huge impact on her childrens’ ability to learn—it’s a blessing for the community of Lunsar.

The teachers at King Kama are very appreciative of their $75 stipend every month—they have no other salary. They are happy to teach the students every day and even hold extra classes on weekends. Their first batch of students will be taking the National Primary School exams this year—the pathway to a secondary education in Sierre Leone—and the teachers are confident that they’ll do well, a result of nourishing their minds and bodies. We’ll see the results in a few months!

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