Sherbro Foundation wishes everyone the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year. Thanks so much for making our 2019 a great year!
Sherbro Foundation wishes everyone the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year. Thanks so much for making our 2019 a great year!
With education, the world opens for a Sierra Leone girl.
You can give the most rural girl from a family living on less than $2 a day the gift of education – and change her world.
She’ll marry later and avoid early pregnancy. When ready, she’ll have fewer, healthier children and send them to school with the higher earning power her education brings. She may start a business or become a community leader – or go on to lead her country. The circle of positive impact from education only keeps growing.
It can start with only $30 for a secondary school scholarship that helps a girl complete high school.
$50 pays a local teacher’s monthly stipend for teaching after-school classes that prepare 9th and 12th graders for their national exams – the entry to senior high and higher education.
$100 pays annual tuition for a student to attend vocational school and advance to a wage-paying job.
$375 pays annual tuition for a college scholarship at the University of Sierra Leone.
This Giving Tuesday, change a Sierra Leone girl’s life. Give her the gift of education. And you’ll feel great!
The future of education in Bumpeh Chiefdom has been growing by leaps and bounds – with more acres of fruit trees and annual crops flourishing in the Orchards for Education project. With a second Rotary Club Global Grant, our partner CCET-SL’s project has blossomed into 60 acres of orchards and a new vegetable growing effort. Here’s a six-month update.
The latest $69,000 phase of Orchards for Education has been completed, with innovative changes along the way, thanks to CCET-SL’s new agriculture manager, Ibrahim Rogers. He saw opportunities to optimize Rotary’s two-year $142,000 investment and generate cash income sooner.
Instead of interplanting vegetable crops in the new orchards and carrying water over tens of acres there, Mr. Rogers advised growing vegetables in raised beds in a swampy area. There, water is plentiful to grow intensively year-round.
A large berm, below, was built around a 7-acre swamp to contain and control water from a stream that naturally floods the area. In the heavy rainy season when 120 inches of rain would wash out raised beds, the project converted to growing rice.
Annual crops will be more productive in an inland valley swamp, or IVS. And that extra money will provide more income to support orchard operations while fruit trees mature.
Seven acres of IVS rice, above, were just harvested in what proved to be a bumper crop.
The rice harvest was manually cut into sheaves. A borrowed power thresher, left, cut the time-consuming chore of separating out rice grains. Hand-winnowing, below, is still needed to clean the rice and remove chaff.
The rice will be sold to the Sierra Leone Ministry of Agriculture as seed rice for their program to increase rice growing in the country. Half the rice now consumed in Sierra Leone is imported — the cheapest, least nutritious white rice.
The Ministry will distribute the seed rice to district small farmers to improve their yields and expand their farms so Sierra Leone can feed itself again.
So, our rice project will support both chiefdom education programs and making Sierra Leone self-sufficient in rice-growing!
The IVS is now being converted back to vegetable growing for the dry season. Ten thousand pepper plants grown in seedbeds will soon be transplanted in newly prepared raised beds. Below are last season’s peppers mulched with rice straw. Okra will also soon be growing gangbusters.
The project will start experimenting with other crops, like bell peppers, carrots and watermelons, to see what does well. A strong market is nearby. Freetown with its 1.5 million urban people only 55 miles away depends on rural farmers for fruit and vegetables.
Paramount Chief Charles Caulker donated the IVS land conveniently located next to the fruit tree nursery. To launch this extra project, $9,000 came from Sherbro Foundation donors and Foundation board members.
CCET-SL’s agricultural projects are already paying dividends as a source of employment for the community with rare wage-paying jobs. The project employs 21 full-time orchard workers, 20 part-time women, plus about 100 seasonal workers (men and women). The part-time women, below, tend the vegetable crops in the IVS, leaving them time to work on their own garden plots and double their earnings.
Meanwhile, fruit trees in the project’s orchards have been soaking up five months of the rainy season’s heavy rains and going through another seasonal growth spurt. The year-by-year progress is now clear to see.
The third, most recent orchard was planted in June-July of this year with coconut saplings on newly cleared ground. These will take five to six years to fully fruit.
Rows of limes and guava that will fruit in three years alternate with coconuts.
Trees in the second orchard, left, planted in 2018 are strong, sprouting up with two rainy seasons of growth.
Avocados, sour sop and oil palm (a local diet staple) were added to coconuts, together with more guava and lime.
The ground still tries to revert back to bush in Year Two and needs to be regularly whacked back. Cassava were planted among some coconuts as drought resistant short-term crops. Tubers are harvested in two to three years, with plants easily replaced with sticks cut from the parent plant.
The first orchard planted in 2017 is now in its third year.
Coconut saplings are now trees, many taller than a 6-foot man. Limes and guava are approaching this height.
Old trees and bushes have largely been beaten back and the ground is becoming grassy.
Guava and lime trees planted in 2017 in the first orchard are sporadically fruiting, and will yield a good harvest next year.
The early guava, left, took first place in the country’s annual agriculture fair in October.
Thanks to the Rotary Club grant, much-needed capital investment was made in the project. A storage building and concrete drying floor at the IVS were completed, below, including an office/meeting room and a night guard’s sleeping quarters. A second storehouse is under construction at the orchard.
A simple, portable and flexible approach to watering was purchased — a minitruck equipped with a tank will carry water around the orchards to keep fruit tree saplings watered throughout the dry season. After two or three years, trees no longer need hand watering. The minitruck is available for other uses, like carrying the rice harvest, below.
Note, the new truck driver, Zainab, is a woman, in keeping with the project’s objective to hire women wherever possible. Who said this isn’t women’s work?
Paramount Chief Caulker intends Orchards for Education to be a demonstration ground to show the Sierra Leone government, NGOs and farming neighbors that productive agriculture projects can be community-led and used to reach nonprofit goals.
The Orchards for Education project is set up to fund Bumpeh Chiefdom education programs for the long term. It’s also providing employment and growing seed rice to help local small farmers. Other rural communities can decide how they want to grow their own futures. CCET-SL is showing them it’s all possible.
We send our deep thanks again to Sherbro Foundation donors who generously gave to this Rotary Club grant project with 2018 year-end donations. Your gifts were matched by Rotary International Foundation. You can now see how far your money already has grown on the ground!
Zainab is now a Bumpeh Chiefdom truck driver. You won’t see another woman driving a truck in the chiefdom, and I doubt anywhere in Moyamba district or most of Sierra Leone’s rural districts.
It’s a mini truck, but a vital part of our partner CCET-SL’s Orchards for Education project, carrying loads and workers from project fields to town in Rotifunk. Importantly, it’s a full time wage-paying job – another rarity in the chiefdom for man or woman.
Orchards for Education will create income for chiefdom children’s education. Another objective is to create local employment, with women hired wherever possible. When a truck driver was needed, the project’s response was, who said this isn’t women’s work?
Zainab was one of the first woman seasonal workers hired at the new vegetable growing swamp project, or IVS. Vegetables or rice are being grown year-round for income to operate the orchards before fruit trees mature and bear fruit.
While at the IVS, Zainab did well, taking responsibility and showing initiative. She was the women workers leader, responsible for sharing work assignments with the other women. She was good at monitoring them to ensure that work was done effectively and efficiently. And, she voluntarily sold the IVS produce at the weekly market.
Paramount Chief Caulker is a strong women’s advocate. When the project bought the mini-truck, locally called a keke, he said hire a woman driver. Zainab was the clear choice for the vehicle, a motorcycle pulling a small flat-bed.
Zainab had never driven any vehicle, motorcycle or otherwise. She started her training on a regular motorcycle a week before the keke’s arrival. She quickly moved on to the keke. Last week the keys were handed over to her and she is now the project’s first full-time female worker.
Who said women can’t drive a truck? Zainab showed they can. After the rice harvest, she’ll be carrying a water tank on the keke around the orchard keeping young fruit tree seedlings watered throughout the coming dry season.
You hit the target. With your generosity, Sherbro Foundation’s 2019-20 girls’ scholarship campaign reached it’s goal.
Actually, it’s 460 individual goals that were met. You helped 460 girls achieve their personal goal of returning to school another year and advancing to the next grade.
Bravo to these girls pursuing their education. And bravo to you, the ones that made it happen!
I always anxiously await seeing what happened to individual girls I’ve gotten to know. This picture of Fatmata proudly smiling in her senior high uniform made me smile, then left me teary thinking of her story.
Fatmata, now starting 11th grade, just received her fifth SFSL scholarship. She’s thriving and moving through senior high.
We wrote about Fatmata two years ago. She lost her father to Ebola, and her pregnant mother died shortly afterward. A relative enrolled her in a Rotifunk school because she could get a scholarship. She resisted her father’s family’s efforts to move her to another town where she would not get scholarship support. She wanted to be sure to stay in school. Now, a few years later, she’s nearly finished with secondary school.
There are many more Fatmatas also getting their chance for education.
We’re thrilled to repeat last year’s highwater mark of 460 scholarships, covering four Bumpeh Chiefdom schools of all faiths. And four young women will return to another year of college with their SFSL scholarships.
With your support, more and more chiefdom girls are staying in school each year. We’re grateful to you for your generosity in backing their growing numbers year after year.
We’re told no other community in Sierra Leone receives this number of scholarships — and all for girls!
Distributing scholarships is always a joyful day. Below, Bumpeh Academy students spill out of our partner CCET-SL’s education center after receiving their scholarship package of a school uniform and school supplies. Without textbooks, it’s essential students get notebooks for recording teachers’ blackboard notes.
Rosaline Kaimbay, CCET-SL Managing Director and former school principal, above, encouraged students and told them of their responsibility to learn and become successful. CCET-SL’s role she tells them, “is to help transform the lives of chiefdom people. When you are successful, you will transform our community.”
Mrs. Kaimbay reminded students of the college scholarships we have started. She told senior high students, “it’s now in your hands” to study hard and qualify for a future scholarship.
The Ahmadiyya Islamic school, above, is the chiefdom’s smallest secondary school. But the ranks of girls in the school keep growing year by year.
Walter Schutz Memorial Secondary School (WSMSS) is the chiefdom’s oldest school, and the one where I taught as a Peace Corps Volunteer many years ago. I remember feeling good back then to have 70 girls in all six grades of the town’s only secondary school. Today, the CCET-SL center, above, was overflowing with over 150 girls receiving scholarship packages in just one of four participating schools!
Pictures weren’t yet available for our fourth school, Ernest Bai Koroma Junior High, the newest school ten miles outside Rotifunk.
But what about the boys?
Every year when I visit Rotifunk schools and meet with student assemblies, I’m asked directly by boys, “What about us? We need help going to school, too.”
The fact is, they do. And with the scholarship program, the number of girls in Rotifunk secondary schools is catching up to their male peers.
As Westerners, we’ve had the notion that African families favor boys over girls for education. I’ve asked enough people in Bumpeh Chiefdom over enough years to now satisfy myself this is no longer true. Girls have caught up with boys in junior high, and now we’re helping girls do the same in senior high. It’s poverty that’s kept girls from progressing now, not favoritism, especially when village girls face the added expense of lodging in town suitable for an unaccompanied teenage girl.
The SF Board decided last year to start scholarships for boys at the modest level of 10% of the total given to girls. We paid for 46 additional scholarships for boys ourselves. This year we set the same target, and one Board member paid for all boys in full.
Student profiles show just how important it is to support boys as well as girls. Mustapha, left, is doing well now in 12th grade with his second scholarship.
He lost his parents during the early days of the Ebola outbreak when they were quarantined. They may have only become infected when kept in close quarters with those who had contracted Ebola. Now living with an uncle, Mustapha wants to become a lawyer “to stop too much crime.”
There are many disadvantaged boys who need our support.
Sallu, middle left, is disabled.
His education means everything to him, as he won’t be able to earn his living with physical labor.
We’ll continue to monitor this issue year by year.
Once again, we send our deepest thanks to everyone for making this year’s scholarship campaign another successful one!
— Arlene Golembiewski
Sewing uniforms locally keeps costs down, and employs local tailors and their assistants. We need your help by August 10 to sew uniforms now and be ready for school in September.
Send a Bumpeh Chiefdom girl to school: http://www.sherbrofoundation.org/donate
We combined secondary school and college scholarships into one back-to-school campaign. Your gift will also help return our first four young women to college with their scholarships!
Mabinty’s math teacher says she’s quick to answer questions and tries to understand new material. Competitive, she sits in the front row of class. She loves to rub it in when she beats the top boys for the best grades in class. At fifteen, she just finished the 10th grade with her second SFSL scholarship.
Mabinty is one of 460 Bumpeh Chiefdom girls waiting for her chance to return to school in September. You can give her that chance with a $30 Sherbro Foundation scholarship.
Mabinty doesn’t know her father who left the family soon after she was born. Her mother remarried and her stepfather raised her with three of her siblings and two other children.
School is important to Mabinty.
With a $30 scholarship, you give a girl much more than a year in school. With a new-found sense of self-worth, girls set goals for themselves and work hard to prepare for wage-paying jobs and real careers. They avoid pregnancy and early marriage that would end their dreams. They’re choosing careers that contribute to society and help develop their country.
Sherbro Foundation scholarships target the vulnerable Bumpeh Chiefdom children – orphans or those with single parents and the lowest income families struggling to send children to school. We strive to improve their their odds in the lottery of life.
The self-esteem that education brings will boost girls into promising futures. That sums up why we work so hard to send Sierra Leone girls to school. Education is the foundation for self-esteem in a country where the majority of women remain uneducated and often illiterate, treated as the lowest caste in society.
Salamatu, 17, in 9th grade, comes from a distant Bumpeh Chiefdom village. Her father died during Sierra Leone’s war, and her mother died soon after of an illness.
Salamatu’s aunt has raised her and her two siblings for the past 13 years. Her hard-working aunt is a trader, reselling things she buys in villages at Rotifunk’s weekly market – peppers, palm oil and charcoal.
With that income, her aunt cares for 10 children, eight in secondary school. This year will be Salamatu’s third on scholarship, which her aunt says are vital to keep her in school. At 17, many girls are force to drop out and start earning a living, often as market traders like Salamatu’s aunt
Salamatu wants to become a nurse “to serve mankind and for nation building.”
She’s one of 100 9th graders now in our partner CCET-SL’s study camp preparing for their senior high entrance exam in late July. After ten months of after-school tutoring classes and now the study camp (all SFSL funded), we expect the ranks of senior girls to grow in September. That’s our goal.
With your support, we’ve grown every year. In 2018-19, 170 senior girls were awarded scholarships; 460 secondary school girls in total. You can help more girls keep on their education journey to graduation and higher education for just $30 each.
Aminata, 18, is finishing senior high with her third SFSL scholarship. Her stepmother cares for six children. Her meager earnings as a market trader helped Aminata complete school. They depended on SFSL scholarships to ease the growing cost burden on the struggling family.
Aminata went to CCET-SL’s tutoring classes for senior high students preparing for their college entrance exam. A very small group of students has made it this far.
“The tutoring classes improved my studies,” Aminata said.
“But I wish there was a science laboratory because I want to become a medical doctor.”
We always have another goal to reach for!
Your $30 scholarship provides a full package. A girl gets a new school uniform – for many the only school clothes they may have for the year. Schools have no texbooks. We provide notebooks for students to copy notes teachers write on blackboards. These things cost more than the secondary school fees the Sierra Leone government is now paying for the first time.
This year we’re adding a washable and reusable menstrual hygiene kit that gives girls the freedom to attend school every day of the month. It gives girls the confidence to fully participate in school, like writing on blackboards, standing in front of class or at lunchbreaks, and participating in sports without the shame of exposing stained clothes.
Your scholarship provides so much for a girl. That’s all it takes to relieve subsistence-level families of the major financial burden to send their girls to school – and keep them in school until graduation.
— Arlene Golembiewski
P.S. Your gift includes another intangible treasure: building a girl’s confidence that she can excel in school and in life. That’s priceless.
P.P.S. You can help more. Pass this on to a friend.