Fatmata, Umu and Safi have done something no one else in their Sierra Leone families have done. Or almost anyone in their community. They graduated from high school. But then what happens?
The three Rotifunk graduates are among the first Bumpeh Chiefdom girls to finish high school in more than 20 years since Sierra Leone’s war.
They’re now embarking on new careers in community health nursing with the second college scholarship Sherbro Foundation introduced last year.
With three deserving young women, the scholarship is split three ways among them.
You can help these young women continue in college another year with your gift – and on to careers in health care, one of Sierra Leone’s most dire needs.
Getting this far It was a struggle for Fatmata, Umu and Safi to get this far, coming from subsistence farming village families, some with single parents. No one in their families finished high school, let alone college. Local schools have also been on a long path to rebuild after the war and attract trained teachers to this rural setting. The young women didn’t have the benefit of a strong academic start.
None met the requirements to enter a four-year or two-year college degree program. Very few Rotifunk students have. Discouraged and at a loss for what to do, they volunteered at Rotifunk’s mission-run hospital as nursing aides. They liked the work, and the hospital found them hard working with potential for health care careers.
Rotifunk’s education godmother
Enter Rosaline Kaimbay, our Rotifunk partner CCET-SL’s managing director and former high school principal.
Rosaline, left center, has been like a godmother to so many Bumpeh Chiefdom children, encouraging them to start – or return – to secondary school, and finding what minimal resources she can to help them on their way.
Rosaline’s new task is helping girls with career counseling and identifying higher education options that fit their interests and abilities. Imagine coming from an illiterate rural farming family and trying to figure out what to do with your life. Girls have little idea of jobs to prepare for, let alone how to make it happen.
Win – win solutions Sherbro Foundation strives to support students in higher education fields that can benefit Bumpeh Chiefdom and its development. Students with family connections are more likely to return to the chiefdom to work – if there’s available jobs.
Health care is an area with rural jobs. It’s also one of Sierra Leone’s biggest priorities, in a country with one of – or the highest – infant, Under-Five and maternal mortality rates in the world.
The Sierra Leone government needs trained nurses to staff community health clinics in the rural areas where 60% of the country’s population lives, especially those who speak local tribal languages and know the culture.
Community health nursing is a great entry point for young women like Fatmata, Umu and Safi. Nurses like Adama, above, run small village-based Public Health Units, where they treat common infectious disease like malaria and dysentery, stitch wounds and perform other first aid. They give women basic pre and post-natal care, serve as midwives at birth and offer well-baby care, including checking infants for stunting.
They’re important in identifying more complicated maternity cases and chronic illness like diabetes and hypertension that need higher professional treatment. I’m told nurses with local connections like rural assignments, where the standard of living is low and their salary goes further.
A good educational value For $750 we can send a young woman to a year of training for this critical job, including tuition, lab practicals, supplies and weekly transportation home for 36 weeks.
Meet our college students
Last year you met our first college scholarship awardee Aminata Kamara, left, who continues to do well. She’s finishing her second year of a B.A. degree in Banking and Finance at the University of Sierra Leone, and is ready to start her third year in September.
Now meet the three nursing students on scholarship.
Our goal is return all four young women to college in September.
Fatmata Sesay lost her father ten years ago and her mother has struggled to raise her and her brother.
Her mother is a small farmer and participant in our Women’s Vegetable Growing program to grow peanuts as a cash crop. But that won’t put a girl through college.
A high school dropout, her mother values education and volunteers her free time as a local kindergarten teacher.
Giving Fatmata the chance for higher education and the career she didn’t have is her hope.
Umu Bangura’s parents are farmers in a small Bumpeh Chiefdom village. Her mother has elephantiasis in both legs and can no longer do much. Her father, in his 50’s and after a hard life of physical labor, is limited in how much farming he can still do.
Umu is the first girl in their family to complete high school. She’s excited to be among the first Bumpeh Chiefdom girls to have the opportunity to continue into college and a real career in nursing.
Umu passed three of her introductory nursing classes “with distinction” above 85%.
Safi Bendu comes from a small village “downriver” some distance from Rotifunk. She had to leave home to go to secondary school.
She got pregnant, but returned to complete her high school education. Safi now appreciates another opportunity to continue her education. She’s determined to become a nurse and get a job that enables her to care for her child.
Fatmata, Umu and Safi all successfully completed their introductory nursing classes in May with Sherbro Foundation college scholarships. They now have two years of courses in front of them, and a third year where they’ll be placed in a government hospital to gain practical experience.
Help send these young women to college. Fatmata, Umu and Safi are now proudly dressed in their nursing student uniforms and have someplace to go – nursing school.
You can help these young women complete a year of their nursing degrees. $750 gives each of them a full year of training so they can join the ranks of trained nurses Sierra Leone so greatly needs.
Our total goal for 2019-20 college scholarships for all four young women is $4000. This includes $1750 to return our first college student Aminata to her third year at University of Sierra Leone with tuition and living expenses.
This year we combined fundraising for college and high school scholarships into one campaign. If you wish to specify your gift be used for college scholarships, please note that on the “special instruction line” with your donation HERE. Or you can let your gift help all girls return to school from Jr. High to Sr. High to college students.
College is an opportunity still uncommon in Sierra Leone and cherished by its students. Thank you for supporting Bumpeh Chiefdom girls in reaching for their dreams.
— Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director