Empowering education & development in rural Sierra Leone
Sherbro Foundation Sierra Leone (SFSL) was founded by Arlene Golembiewski, a former Peace Corps science teacher in Rotifunk, Bumpeh Chiefdom, Sierra Leone.
We are all-volunteer with the mission of helping rural Sierra Leone move from poverty to self-reliance through education and economic empowerment.
In the five years since SFSL was founded, we’ve helped our Bumpeh Chiefdom community partner develop seven programs that have improved the lives of over 5000 of some of the poorest and most inaccessible people in Sierra Leone.
In 2011, Arlene returned to Sierra Leone for the first time in 35 years, thinking it would be a one-off trip. She reconnected with the chiefdom where she once lived and found it and Sierra Leone little changed.
They were still climbing out the wreckage of their 11-year rebel war. 60% of the people are the “extreme poor” living on $1 a day. Most of the country remains illiterate. 90% live in the dark with no electricity. 1 in 5 children will not see their fifth birthday, dying of treatable disease. And one of the most dangerous things a woman there can do is get pregnant and give birth.
But she found it wasn’t a hopeless place.By joining with Bumpeh Chiefdom’s Paramount Chief and his efforts, there were simple and practical things they could do that would have an immediate impact on improving the lives of the chiefdom’s poorest people and smallest underserved villages. Like sending girls to school, teaching illiterate adults to read and write, and creating fruit orchards, all started from seed of local fruit.
With two subsequent visits, Arlene laid initial plans with Paramount Chief Charles Caulker and a partnership born. In March 2013, Sherbro Foundation was created in the US to collaborate with the also newly formed Center for Community Empowerment & Transformation (CCET-SL) in its development programs for Bumpeh Chiefdom.
Sherbro Foundation follows the Peace Corps model of working with grassroots organizations on community-led development.We:
Work as partners– empowering the community to meet needs they identify, not ours. Our community-based partner CCET-SL lives locally and develops and manages programs on behalf of their chiefdom.
Use local authorities to lead the work – working directly with the Paramount Chief and chiefdom leaders down to the village level to introduce programs and lead local implementation. With strong local ownership, results are delivered quickly.
Stress sustainability – choosing practical projects and technology simple to implement and sustain in impoverished rural areas. We champion projects that others can replicate.
Leverage money– seeding productive new ideas that can attract additional new support and become self-supporting. Programs include income streams from needed community services CCET-SL provides that fund its day-to-day operations.
See our Programs page for an overview of the education and economic empowerment programs we support.