A Boost to the Finish Line

A Boost to the Finish Line

As we wrapped up a recent meeting on our partner CCET-SL’s education programs, Paramount Chief Charles Caulker commented, “CCET-SL has rebuilt senior high education in Rotifunk.”
 
I knew what he meant. When I first returned to Sierra Leone 11 years ago, there were four secondary schools in Rotifunk, most small junior highs. None had the full teaching staff to cover all subjects. Many teachers were just out of high school themselves and uncertified. None of the handful of graduating seniors met university entrance requirements.
 
Fast forward to today, with the month-long national senior high completion exam beginning. CCET-SL expects this year’s students to do at least as well as last year. In 2021, 64% of graduating seniors in CCET-SL’s program met the minimum requirements for university admission. Several did considerably better. Another 15% qualified for teacher training college. That’s about 80% qualifying for higher education.
 
What changed? Our partner CCET-SL introduced programs to systematically improve education.
 
Their six-year-old after-school tutorial program has prepared hundreds of junior high students for senior high. CCET-SL‘s all-day 12th grade school just completed its third year.
 
Both programs are getting results – thanks to funding from your Sherbro Foundation donations. We’re reaching out now for your help to fund them for another year.
 
Mabinty 20220528 (2)
 
Mabinty used CCET-SL’s programs as steppingstones to her goal of working in government, even becoming a Parliamentarian. She is graduating from 12th grade, a feat still uncommon for Bumpeh Chiefdom girls.
 
She told her story, not an easy one, to Mrs. Kaimbay, above. At the age of nine, her father divorced her mother for another woman. Both parents left, leaving her with her impoverished grandmother who could barely care for her. Mabinty had to repeat 8th grade after missing a lot of school when her grandmother couldn’t pay her school fees.
 
Sherbro Foundation scholarships then kept her in school. Participating in CCET-SL’s 9th grade tutorial program and the 12th grade school, Mabinty now feels confident as she sits for the West African Secondary School Completion Exam, or WASSCE. “I’ve never failed to attend school, and was always successful in my school exams,” she said. She hopes her WASSCE results will gain her admission to the University of Sierra Leone to study political science.
 
To have Bumpeh Chiefdom girls and boys today speak of their education goals with such conviction and confidence is striking.
 
When Rosaline Kaimbay, below, took over as CCET-SL managing director in 2017, she set out to improve the quality of education in Bumpeh Chiefdom.
 
Rotifunk, the chiefdom’s headquarters town, was typical in seeing only about 30% of teens make it to junior high.
 
By the 10th grade, half of those dropped out. The few successful students whose families could scrape together funds, transferred to senior highs in cities with qualified teachers.
 
By 12th grade, remaining Rotifunk seniors dwindled to 5 – 10 per school. With these numbers, schools couldn’t get government support to hire qualified teachers.
 
A former results-oriented school principal, Rosaline knew there had to be a better way. She saw there were various teachers across the schools who had skills in different subjects. She convinced the school principals to pool both their 12th grade students and their best teachers into one effective all-day school.
 
The 12th grade school covers eleven subjects for both college bound and commercial students. Walter Schutz Memorial Secondary School provides classrooms, below.

WASSCE class entrance test 20211008 (2)

It’s all done only with available local teachers but organized for optimal results.
 
The school is run in a disciplined manner and the entire WASSCE curriculum is covered. Students do practice exams to get familiar with the exam format and questions. The concept showed immediate results in its first five-month trial. With a full 10 months in 2021, the school produced the dramatically improved results above.
 
Mrs. Kaimbay avoids bureaucratic approaches and maximizes benefits for students and their families. That includes admitting “repeaters” into the program. With years of inadequate teaching, many students don’t pass the WASSCE the first time, or their results are too low for their college or program of choice.
 
About 30% of students in the 12th grade school have graduated but are repeating the year to sit the exam again. The program was extended to allow local graduates to repeat at no cost to try to bring up their exam results. When more graduates move on to successful jobs and careers, they, their families and the community all benefit.
 
Susan 20220525 (3)

Susan is a repeater intent on getting admitted to a four-year degree program in accounting at a good college. She told Mrs. Kaimbay, above, she wants to go into banking or be a private business accountant. She passed six of eight subjects on her first WASSCE exam. Five passes would get her into a college, but she didn’t pass English, required for her chosen degree program.

Completing high school was a struggle for her. Her parents are illiterate village farmers with no money for her education. A guardian in Rotifunk barely provided her basic care. She received just one school uniform to wear daily every two years.

Sherbro Foundation scholarships helped her reach senior high. Susan now wants to take the leap to college and a professional career. Our support boosted her to this point!

Mariatu’s story is much the same. A guardian helped her complete high school when her village parents could not. She repeated 12th grade to improve her exam results so she can study law.

She’s seen older male lawyers return to Rotifunk to visit family, but never a chiefdom woman. She wants to be to first local woman to successfully become a lawyer.

Rotifunk’s young men have similar dreams – and they need the same boost.

 

When his father died, Kamiru, left, waited three years after graduating high school before the CCET-SL program was available to help him repeat the WASSCE exam.
 
He wants to become a Community Health Officer. The CHO is like a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant who run small community health clinics. They operate clinics solo, being the first line of primary care medicine for most people.
 
WASSCE results from last year’s 12th grade school amazed me. But the elements for success were there: all subjects taught by capable teachers; a disciplined program ensuring the whole curriculum is covered; and students serious about their education goals. They must pass an entrance test to confirm they are at senior high proficiency before entering the program. No laggards allowed.
 
Chief Caulker’s statement on CCET-SL’s role in rebuilding senior high education, is an understatement. Without CCET-SL’s programs, these able young people would be languishing with no way to advance.
 
The cost for this 10-month program is $40 monthly stipends for the teachers. Many of them don’t get the full government teacher’s salary of $140 a month. With Sierra Leone’s run-away 21% inflation, teachers keep falling financially behind. Our modest $40 a month stipend helps keeps them afloat.
 
If you want your donation dollar put to good use in an efficient program with demonstrated results – sponsor a teacher for CCET-SL’s for Tutorial Program. Help us continue another year here.
 
At $40 a month – or $400 for one teacher for the school year – you’ll move Rotifunk’s young people up the ladder of success and keep teachers in the classroom teaching.
 
We greatly appreciate your support. Thank you!
 
— Arlene Golembiewski,
Executive Director
How to Change a Child’s Life. For $25!

How to Change a Child’s Life. For $25!

It’s 1 pm and James Kargbo turns back from the blackboard of his fifth-grade class at Evangelical Primary School to find Mr. Barnard in the doorway of his classroom. He wasn’t expecting Mr. Barnard just then, but welcomes him into the class. Mr. Barnard is a familiar face, showing up unannounced once every one or two weeks to observe his class and coach him on his teaching. 

Mr. Barnard, below, occasionally takes over the class to give a demonstration lesson on more difficult topics. You know it’s an experienced teacher when normally bored preteens sit in rapt attention on a subject like fractions.

We are kicking off our annual Education Fundraising Campaign showcasing the new primary school tutorial program our Bumpeh Chiefdom partner CCET-SL launched last September. Nearly 400 students in classes five and six in seven Rotifunk area schools and their teachers participate. 

With your help, we’ve done a lot to raise the quality of education in Rotifunk schools in the last several years. We’re particularly excited now by the potential of the primary school program and the impact we can all have on children’s lives there.

It became clear, to get HERE  ……………… We need to start HERE!

Operating for five years, CCET-SL’s after-school tutorial program for ninth graders now has 95% of students passing their senior high entrance exam. But passing doesn’t mean results are strong. Many are in fact rather marginal. 

To set kids up for success in senior high and give them a good shot at higher education, we need to work with them at the primary school level. 

Fourteen teachers and nearly 400 primary students were put in the capable hands of Oliver Barnard, a retired primary school teacher and headmaster of 30 years’ experience. At 65, this man has energy to spare. “I actually enjoy teaching,” he said. Of retirement age, but not ready for it, he lamented,” I thought I was nowhere. Now I’m back in the system.” His frown turned into a wide grin. Teaching children he says, gives meaning and purpose in his life. 

And Rotifunk’s primary school teachers need him. Only 4 of the 14 teachers he works with have the basic three-year Teacher’s Certificate, qualifying them to teach primary school. 

The other ten only graduated from high school and were put in front of a classroom, like Mohamed Kamara. A teacher for three years, he would like to go to college, but like most, doesn’t have the means to pay for it. Abdul Kanu, at Supreme Islamic Council School, below, is another dedicated teacher who appreciates Mr. Barnard’s guidance.

IMG-20211115-WA0006 (2) Sometimes a principal just hands new teachers a book and sends them to a class to teach. The principal often teaches full time themselves and has little time to monitor or coach a young teacher. 

To make matter worse, without a teaching certificate, the government does not pay unqualified teachers. School principals scrape together donations to pay them from parents who have no money to spare. Maybe half the parents will offer something, often as little as 5000 leones – or 50 cents. From this, unqualified teachers get a token monthly payment of $15 – $25 a month. 

With classrooms like James Kargbo’s at the Evangelical Primary School, below, you know schools don’t have extra money to pay teachers. Nonetheless, teachers are teaching, and kids are learning.

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Village children are walking 3, 4 and even 5 miles each way to go to primary school like these in Rotifunk. Their village schools often barely function, with one or two teachers for six grades who may have only completed primary school themselves. These are among the children in greatest need of education that we can influence in a positive direction.
 
Most class five and six teachers in Rotifunk are young men because they have at least finished high school. It’s one of the few paid jobs in town, but the pay is hardly enough, especially with a family. Teachers like James and Mohamed leave school to go home and work in gardens growing fruit and vegetables to supplement their tiny family incomes. Their wives may be the primary breadwinners of the family as market women, selling produce in the market.
 
This leads to morale problems and malaise among many unqualified teachers. Without having learned teaching methodologies, they struggle. When one teacher must teach all seven subjects for one grade, they skip over the topics they’re not familiar with. Students end the school year without learning the full curriculum.
 
English language, written composition and math are the weakest subjects in primary school. These remain weak all the way through to the 12th grade national graduating exam. Students never catch up.
 
Mr. Barnard is shaking the trees to change this. In a good way.
 
The teachers know he’s there to help them and look at him as the coach and mentor they never had. Week by week, after observing their class, he gives feedback on improving their teaching. He helps them prepare lesson plans on topics they are weak in. His demonstration classes give teachers confidence to cover topics they didn’t know how to teach and practical tips on handling a class.
 
The kids enjoy him. The class gets a shot of energy when Mr. Barnard confidently takes over a lesson. And they learn.
Sometimes Mr. Barnard puts the chalk down and just talks to the kids about the importance of education in their lives. He points out successful people they know who only got ahead because of their education.
IMG-20211116-WA0009 (2) Too often these young impressionable students see the opposite – young people who dropped out of school and with the little money they earned bought cheap cell phones and flashy clothes.
 
Young women tell the girls, you’re wasting your time in school; I have my own baby.
 
What they don’t realize is, chances are, the women will be abandoned to raise that baby themselves. Young female and male drop-out’s never get ahead and live impoverished lives. Sound familiar?
 
But many times, it’s a role-model teens strongly admire that sparks their imagination and starts a change in their lives. If she or he came from the same place as me and achieved what they did, so can I. Rosaline Kaimbay, CCET-SL’s locally born and college educated managing director has been a role model that sparked this change in many students.
 
We all recall teachers who had a big impact on our lives. Sherbro Foundation is working with CCET-SL to develop more teachers who will play that role for these kids.
Last week 200 class six students lined up to take their National Primary School Exam in Rotifunk, most from CCET-SL’s program. The exam sets the course for their education journey. Either they continue to secondary school, or faced with repeating class 6, many drop out.
 
With nine months preparation and practice exams, Roman Catholic primary school headmistress Salamatu Fofanah could see the difference in the students from CCET-SL’s program this year. She said, “Today our children feel relieved and happy to take the exam in a cool atmosphere. They have the confidence to take their exams with no fear. We appreciate the great support of CCET-SL and Sherbro Foundation.”
 
She knows James Kargbo and his fellow teachers have worked for months to prepare their students for this week with Mr. Barnard’s ever-present coaching. The results will no doubt be better than last year. The teachers are energized to keep improving and pledge to soon achieve the highest results in the district.
 
Sherbro Foundation is excited to kick off our annual Education Fundraising Campaign with this practical program. It’s developing teachers on-the-job, while covering the full primary school curriculum and giving students a better education. It uses existing resources to do this.
 
As the advertisement used to say – the cost per student for the whole school year for all of this? Only $25. Changing a child’s life? Priceless!
 
I can’t think of many things we can do with higher impact on the lives of more people. 
When 400 young students get a strong education foundation and keep progressing in school, the impact will be felt for years to come. Whole families benefit when students turned adults keep succeeding.
 
You can help change a child’s life for $25. Sponsor four for $100. Or why not sponsor a whole class of 20 for $500? It’s a guaranteed feel-good investment you’ll be glad you made. Give HERE.
 
As always, we deeply appreciate your support. Thank you!
 
— Arlene Golembiewski,
Executive Director
Opportunity is Knocking – You can Answer the Door

Opportunity is Knocking – You can Answer the Door

Bumpeh Chiefdom students are eager for opportunities to advance their educations. You’re the key to opening the door to secondary school and higher education – the path to building better lives.  

We’re excited to now offer programs extending from primary school through university degrees!  

You can support chiefdom students: Join our Annual Education Campaign HERE. 

tutorial Tutorial Programs

9th and 12th grade students get extra classes in preparation for their national exams, the gateway to senior high and higher education admission. 

$60 gives a student 10 months of classes. 

Learn more here.

 

IMG_4342 (2) Primary School Tutorials

Our newest offering is after-school classes for grades five and six. Kids who do well in primary school are set up for success in secondary school and beyond.

At $18 each, we’ll cover 400 students!

Learn more here.

 

sierra-leone-off-grid (3)Vocational Scholarships

Ten students are entering the second year of 2-year vocational diploma courses. They learn practical job skills: construction, electrical installation, and IT.

$450 pays tuition, practicals, travel and the certification exam fee.     Learn more here.

img-20201118-wa0010-4Teacher Training Scholarships

Quality education starts with trained teachers. Six teachers are continuing the second in a 3-year Higher Teacher Certificate program. They keep teaching while attending their own classes during school holidays.

$700 covers a 1-year scholarship, including $350 tuition.   Learn more here.

 

Safiatu Bendu (7)Nursing & University Scholarships

We’re happy to report both of these scholarship programs are funded, thanks to our earlier appeal for the Community Health Nurses and another generous donor.

We appreciate the support!

 

Our successful tutorial programs are entering their fifth year. Because of you, students are also continuing into higher education – “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities to achieve actual careers.

You are the key!

Please send your online gifts here.  Contact Us for sending checks.

Thank you for opening the door!

Getting Sierra Leone Students Ready for What Lies Ahead

Getting Sierra Leone Students Ready for What Lies Ahead

Sierra Leone schools finally will reopen in October after a 5-month Covid shutdown

How do you help students now at an education milestone with a looming big exam that determines their fate – or which could result in more barriers to reaching their life goals?

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Sierra Leone students have already been through a lot to reach 9th grade or 12th grade. With previous stops and starts, senior high students are often 20 years old and more. They’ve been in schools with too few teachers qualified to teach the curriculum.

Now, they’ve a 5-month school gap to fill because of Covid.

We’re working on improving Rotifunk’s educational system with teacher training. But what happens to the kids now in school?

CCET-SL’s Tutorial Program, going into its fourth year, tackles this problem, turning it into an opportunity.

Rosaline Kaimbay saw local secondary schools don’t have enough trained and qualified teachers to cover the full curriculum, especially in math, science and English.

Her solution: offer tutorials, but not just one-on-one or for small groups. Offer after-school classes to students from three schools preparing for national exams. And make it free.IMG-20190304-WA0003 (2)With Sherbro Foundation funding, 9th and 12th grade students came in droves for this free extra help. CCET-SL had to limit enrollment to the capacity of the CCET-SL education center, about 75 students at a time.

The program has been a big success and continues to grow. 170 students are anticipated this year, exceeding the size of the CCET-SL center. Classes are in two shifts and overflow classes go to a nearby primary school in afternoons.

Students facing the biggest barriers to education are invited for tutoring, providing a boost for the most vulnerable: orphans, those in single-parent households, often woman-led, or away from their home village living with guardians, and the lowest income families. 80% are girls.

The Tutorial program adds quality to the education these students receive – and does it using existing resources.

20200113_113722 (2)The best qualified local teachers combine forces in extra classes for students from three schools.

For a modest $40 monthly stipend, these dedicated teachers come after school, week after week, for another round of teaching over the whole school year.

The result: 9th grade tutorial students each year got higher results on average on the senior high entrance exam than peers in their home school, better on average than all chiefdom schools and than most of the district’s 40 secondary schools. They took many of the top three results in their home school.

The tutorial students, 80% girls, also became motivated to continue their education. More went on to senior high at the age when girls typically drop-out and marry. With extra support and their daughters’ success, more parents saw the value of education and kept their girls in school.

Create All-Day 12th grade School
Rosaline has taken 12th grade after-school tutoring to a higher level. The total number of 12th graders in Rotifunk schools remains small. Most have dropped out by this point.

Rosaline convinced school principals it would be more effective to bring all 12th grade students together and teach one all-day 12th grade school with the best local teachers at the CCET-SL center.

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Students get the best teaching Rotifunk has to offer. The intensive all-day school prepares them for the exam that’s the entry to all higher education and requested on job applications. All 12 senior high subjects are taught, including classes for college and commercial tracks.

School in the time of Covid
12th grade after-school tutoring converted to the all-day school in December 2019.  Covid then closed schools at the end of March 2020. Still, with six months total of focused teaching, we’re hoping this group now taking the national exam will do better than in the past.

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CCET-SL will resume both the 12th-grade school and 9th grade after-school tutoring when Sierra Leone schools reopen in October. They observe the same procedures as all schools, including Covid safety procedures: required masks, spacing out students and frequent hand-washing. The CCET-SL Center has large windows to open on both sides creating air flow.

9th grade tutorial classes and the 12th grade school will be more important than ever in helping Rotifunk students catch up after missing five months of school for Covid.  No Zoom in Rotifunk!

You can step in and sponsor a 9th grade or 12th grade student for 10 months of classes for only $40 for the whole year.  Sponsor a student here.

Together, we can help 170 students stay on track and make big gains in their quest for a complete education. More than that. They’re preparing for the next step that lies ahead. Thank you!

— Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director

Light Up Izzy’s Life. She’ll Bring Light to Others.

Youth unemployment in Sierra Leone is staggering.

70% of those under the age of 35 are unemployed or underemployed. Erratic work in the informal economy, like market trading and day labor, is hard to even call employment. But that’s the best many can do. They have no skills.

Izzy is back in school now to avoid this fate. She’s in a vocational course teaching her electrical wiring. She chose that because it will lead to a wage-paying job with a future She’ll be poised on the leading edge of Sierra Leone’s solar revolution.

It’s back-to-school time. And time for our annual educational fundraising appeal – with another new twist this year.

Vocational training is one of four types of higher-education scholarships we’re sponsoring for chiefdom students. The successful after-school tutoring program will continue, as well.

Izzy is one of 12 Bumpeh Chiefdom students enrolled in a new vocational training program with Sherbro Foundation scholarships.

She was an 11th grade student aimlessly drifting in a conventional school that didn’t offer much to a student like her. Izzy (short for Ismatu) lost first one parent, then the other. She lives with her grandmother, helping in her catering business, which in rural Rotifunk, is down more than up.

Izzy is a quiet girl. In a month of being around her, I never got more than a “good morning, ma.” She’s always silent, her grandmother said. Just quietly doing tasks she’s asked to do. Fetch water, wash the pots, peel potatoes, pluck feathers off a chicken. You can see she’s had a painful past. Spending her time with older women who didn’t have their own chance for education, she never formed any goals.

The Sierra Leone government recognizes young people like Izzy need new opportunities. Most will never go to college. They need to get job skills. The government decentralized its Government Technical Institute, putting satellite programs in the district capitals where it’s practical for impoverished students to study. They made it affordable, with low tuition and avoid the capital Freetown’s high cost of living.

When Izzy’s chance for a new kind of education came up, she went for it. Electrical wiring is unusual for any girl to elect, but especially in Sierra Leone.

I asked her, why choose this, and Izzy softly said, “So I can do betta.” Meaning, so I can get a job and do better than the women around me.

Now she’s learning a skill that will set her up in a trade with opportunities, as Sierra Leone’s construction industry grows and electrical power takes off.

Until now, 90% of rural Sierra Leone has been in the dark.

Izzy didn’t choose this out of the blue. Last year, she was helping her grandmother cook for a group of Germans who came to install a solar system at Rotifunk’s mission hospital. They observed women have almost no options for jobs and are always working as “beasts of burden.” They encouraged Izzy, saying she could be doing solar installations and other electrical work. 

Not long ago, a group of illiterate Sierra Leone women went to India to be trained as part of a “barefoot solar” program, which successfully trains illiterate Indian women to do solar system installations. They show even uneducated women can learn what they need to know to run wiring and install solar panels. Women are disciplined and pay attention to detail. 

When Izzy was selected for one of the first 12 Bumpeh Chiefdom positions at the new technical institute in the district capital Moyamba, she saw electrical wiring was a course option. She didn’t hesitate.

Four young women and eight young men were accepted for Sherbro Foundation funded scholarships. Three women elected an IT course. The men are studying building and constuction, auto mechanics and IT.

The only female in her electrical course, Izzy is getting encouragement all around, including from the guys in the class. She’ll be finishing her first year soon, leading to a one-year certificate. If she does well, she can continue into a second year and get a full diploma.

Izzy’s timing is good. Small scale solar systems are spreading across Sierra Leone.

Easy Solar is one company bringing small solar units to rural African households. It installs solar panels with as little as 25 to 50 watts capacity, enough to run a couple LED lights and charge phones, plug in a radio or another small device.

Compared to always buying expensive alkaline batteries, this kind of small solar service is affordable for many. The smallest package is $70. You can buy your set-up outright, or pay it off monthly. Later, you can add on.

The exciting news is a solar mini-grid is being installed for the town of Rotifunk. It’s a public-private venture, that will be run like a small utility company. Households who want the service will get an electrical meter installed for pay-as-you-go service. Poles are going up around Rotifunk to carry electrical wires throughout town. The rest goes in soon, when the peak of the rainy season passes.

I smiled when I heard one excited resident say, with electricity, “Rotifunk will be New York City of the south [of Sierra Leone].”

The above solar mini-grid is an example of many being installed in rural Sierra Leone.

Imagine the anticipation of having even small-scale power and lights around Rotifunk for the very first time. It will no doubt keep growing, as power expands around the country. 

Izzy soon will be ready to take advantage with her new electrical skills. She can “do betta” and have a future in front of her. 

When asked to sponsor vocational training scholarships, Sherbro Foundation immediately said, absolutely.

It takes just $325 for a total scholarship package for the year to help one vocational student get job skills! This includes tuition and practicals fee, room rental and transportation for nine months.

The institute is impressed with Bumpeh Chiefdom’s response in sending students. It’s the only chiefdom in the district to fully sponsor 12 impoverished students and give them this opportunity.

You can help Izzy and 11 others like her get real job skills. Contribute towards a $325 annual scholarship here and these young people will soon join the job market – and avoid lives of poverty.

You’ll be making a great investment that feels great, too. Thank you!

  — Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director

Our Sierra Leone partner CCET-SL has more education programs helping Bumpeh Chiefdom students move to self-reliant lives. Stay tuned to hear what’s next for the successful after-school tutoring program and two other scholarships for community health nurses and our first university student!

Putting Quality Into Sierra Leone Girls’ Education

We’re kicking off our annual appeal for our educational programs. 

Sherbro Foundation’s core mission is education, with a focus on helping girls get an education.

We want Bumpeh Chiefdom girls – and boys – to stay in school, graduate and move on to actual careers and wage-paying jobs that make them self-supporting and part of developing their country.

Sherbro Foundation is proud to have grown to four types of scholarships serving Bumpeh Chiefdom students.

This year we’re changing our approach to our mission. No girls’ scholarships.

We’re focusing on ensuring teachers have the skills needed to help our students succeed.

“This is the right time to make a change in the scholarship program,” Bumpeh Chiefdom’s Paramount Chief Charles Caulker said. “The Sierra Leone government’s Free Quality Education program is providing more and more for students in the last two years and taking a load off families. The government made school free, paying school fees directly to schools, and giving students school supplies and textbooks for core subjects.”

Emory WSMSS SS1 math 18 (3) Over six years, Sherbro Foundation sent over 800 Bumpeh Chiefdom girls to school with scholarships, most with repeat scholarships.

We got them into junior high and kept them there. We saved many from dropping out, instead continuing into senior high. They’re starting to graduate.

But graduates aren’t moving on to their dreams. Our goal of self-sufficient young women remains unmet.

Few had school completion exam results good enough to continue into higher education. This is largely the same scenario across Sierra Leone.

The problem was pretty clear. More needs to be put into the quality of education, not just the quantity.

Quality of education starts with qualified teachers.

This year we will fund scholarships for teachers in chiefdom schools to get the Higher Teaching Certificate (HTC), the basic credential to teach at the secondary school level.

The majority of those imparting knowledge to pupils are not trained and qualified. This has created a negative impact on the performance of pupils, especially in the public exam.” Rosaline Kaimbay, managing director of our chiefdom partner CCET-SL and former high school principal.

IMG_2706 (2)If fortunate to finish high school, most graduates need to earn an income right away. They start teaching straight out of high school, sometimes as a primary school teacher.

Without an HTC or a bachelor’s degree, the government won’t pay secondary school teachers. But it’s hard for Rotifunk schools to get trained teachers to come to this rural community. They still need teachers, and scrape together a token salary, as little as $25 a month, to pay unqualified teachers.

The Sierra Leone government offers part-time courses practicing teachers can take on school holidays and some weekends to get their HTC over three years.

Many unqualifed teachers are serious and want to improve their subject knowledge and teaching skills. But paid so little, they can’t afford to pursue their HTC.

They’re stuck. But we can fix this problem.

Sherbro Foundation will fund six CCET-SL scholarships for practicing Rotifunk teachers to pursue their HTC. The cost for each is only $675 a year for tuition, fees and personal support (travel, food, internet café use, etc.)

82511258_614813622684617_5169237073403576320_n (2)Aziz is applying for one. He’s been teaching for seven years. Aziz was born in Mogbongboto, a small village deep in Bumpeh Chiefdom near where the Bumpeh River opens to the ocean. His parents were subsistence farmers, living off the land. He is one of twenty children his father gave birth to. His family can’t offer any financial help to further his education.

Aziz went to high school in Rotifunk in the period after the war when schools were being rebuilt academically as well as physically, and good instruction was limited.

When he didn’t meet university entry requirements, Aziz took the path many do. He got a basic teacher’s certificate, qualifying him to teach at primary schools.  He worked his way up, from primary school to teaching business management and physical education at a Rotifunk secondary school.

87479818_654415898724389_2420527844426776576_n (1)“At first I never want to be a teacher looking at the way the profession is neglected,” Aziz commented last year. “Later on I take it as a job. And now it’s becoming my profession.”

Teachers in a rural community like Rotifunk do more than teach a class. They’re guides and catalysts, lifting students from the trap of semi-literacy and a life of poverty to the opportunity education brings.

I was impressed with the personal vision Aziz wrote on his Facebook page. “My vision: to teach, to build, to inspire. As an educator, a life coach, a life instructor, a future builder and a Role Model, I inspire young and great minds towards becoming super thinkers and great achievers.”

Aziz meets the base criteria for an HTC Scholarship. He now has six subjects passed  after retaking the school completion exam vs. four required for HTC entry. He’s a chiefdom resident and currently teaching in a chiefdom school.

Aziz did well in CCET-SL’s scholarship interview, with a panel of seven interviewers, including Paramount Chief Caulker. He needs to now apply to an HTC school and bring a letter of acceptance.

20191222_131110 (2)“CCET-SL works to compliment the government’s Free Quality Education program,” Chief Caulker, left, said. “One thing the government is not able to do now is send teachers back to school to develop strong teaching skills. It’s right for CCET-SL to step in and help our own teachers. We’ve tailored teacher training scholarships for our needs and to serve as a tool for developing our chiefdom.”

After completing their HTC, teachers are required to continue teaching in a Rotifunk school at least one year for every year of scholarship support they receive.

“Our Girls Scholarship program encouraged chiefdom families to send their girls to school and let them progress into senior high,” Chief Caulker said. “They’ve come to value education more and are proud of their girls getting an education.”

“We now need to make sure girls – and all our students – get a quality education that will carry them into new lives where they prosper, and in turn, Bumpeh Chiefdom prospers.”

Sherbro Foundation is excited to take our education mission to the next level with this change. When a teacher’s skills improve, students learn more, test scores improve and they gain admission to higher education – with opportunities for a new life.

You can help develop a teacher by donating towards a $675 scholarship. Click here.

You’ll be investing in both a teacher and in the hundreds of students they teach. Thank you!

— Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director

Watch for future newsletters about our three other scholarships and their goals: community health nursing, vocational training and supporting our first university student to complete her final year.

460 Goals Met!

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!

IMG-20191009-WA0001 (2)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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Emory WSMSS SS2 math 3 (2)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.

Mustapha Kebbie SS2Student 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.”

Emory spelling bee team 2 Mabinty's and Sallu disabled foot (3)

 

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

What Your Scholarship Really Buys a Sierra Leone Girl

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 Fofanah SS1

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.

“When you get an education, you become someone in society,” she says.  She wants to be a lawyer.

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 Conteh BASS JSS3 Aunt orphan Siama Rd 3 (5)

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.

Salamatu Conteh BASS JSS3 Aunt orphan Siama Rd. 4 (4)

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 Kawa BASS stepmum Magazine SS3 5 (3)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.

Aminata Kawa BASS stepmum Magazine SS3 3 (3)“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.

Click here and send a Bumpeh Chiefdom girl to school with a scholarship. It feels great.

Thank you!

— 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.

 

 

Come celebrate our 6th anniversary

Come celebrate our 6th anniversary

This week is Sherbro Foundation’s sixth anniversary!

I’m just back from five weeks in Sierra Leone. One program in 2013 has grown to six today, and they’re expanding.

Join us April 4 at 7 pm in Cincinnati to hear all we’ve accomplished with our Sierra Leone partner CCET – and where we’re going next.

This isn’t a fundraiser. We just want to share all our good news with you. Pass this on and feel free to bring friends. Hope to see you there.

—– Arlene Golembiewski

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Sending Children to School with Fruit

So many things to show from my Sierra Leone trip last month. Where to start? Here’s where we started our Orchards for Education work with Mike’s Orchard – the first one we planted in 2016 for our dear Peace Corps friend we lost a few years ago.

Bumpeh Chiefdom Paramount Chief Caulker, above, shows one of over 1000 pineapples planted in the rains of July 2016 that are doing well and starting to sporadically fruit.

It was in 2016 we decided with our Sierra Leone partner CCET-SL to start planting fruit orchards as a means of creating sustainable income to run their education programs for Bumpeh Chiefdom. Chief Caulker doesn’t want to keep asking donors to pay for scholarships for girls to go to secondary school, and now to college. We want to keep running the new Tutoring program that prepares students for their senior high and college entrance exams without hand-out’s.

As a rural agricultural area, starting fruit orchards became our plan. It’s a long-term strategy and requires work to carve them out of wild bush and get fruit trees established. But then they reliably produce fruit and income for years to come. We’ve added short term crops to fill in between trees, like pineapple, cassava, peanuts and corn.

The Sherbro Foundation Board stepped in to start the Mike Orchard ourselves, in recognition of our Peace Corps friend Mike and all he did for Sierra Leone over 35 years during and after he left the Peace Corps. You must clear land and plant in Sierra Leone in synch with the rainy season. Or wait another year. So we decided in short order in 2016 to just get started with eleven acres Chief provided near his family farm.

Since then, Orchards for Education is blossoming into another 45 acres, all planted for children’s education in Bumpeh Chiefdom. More on that later.

For now, our first effort is bearing fruit. Literally. Not enough to earn real income this year, but we’re on our way. Watch over us, Mike. The next year should be a good year.

Eat. Pray. Learn.

Eat. Pray. Learn.

Come January, 63 girls will be starting on a path few Bumpeh Chiefdom girls ever reach. They’ll eagerly begin senior high school.

IMG-20180724-WA0006 (2)Girls in CCET’s tutoring program waiting to start their senior-high entrance exam.

Last January, our partner CCET started their first after-school tutoring program for 9th grade girls. Extra classes fill learning gaps schools can’t provide and help girls successfully pass their senior-high entrance exams — and be well prepared for senior-high learning.

Eighty-one girls from four local schools started the program, coming to 4 pm classes three days a week, including their first computer training. Seventy-five continued for 7 months, finishing in July just before the national exam.

img-20180722-wa0002.jpgWhy the title Eat. Pray. Learn?

Tutoring ended with a 3-week study “camp”, where girls lived 24/7 at CCET’s education center. They had intensive review, drilling on practice test questions, study time and generally got pumped up to take the exam together.  Students, left, in study camp evening classes.

Thanks to funding from the Beaman Family Fund, we were able to feed these young scholars three meals a day during the camp. Below, students take a lunch break outside.

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img-20180722-wa0003-2-e1544378321317.jpgAnd prayer in all faiths, left, is part of the camp day. At day’s end, tables were pushed to the side and girls spread out on the floor to sleep dormitory style.

The experience of living and studying together in a focused environment with the support of their teachers and peers – and good nourishment — helped push girls over the finish line for the exam.

We weren’t sure what to expect from the new Sierra Leone government on this year’s exam. The nature of the questions didn’t change, but they applied more rigorous exam monitoring and scoring. They are emphasizing improving education and eliminating corruption at all levels, including on national school exams. Exam results were reported in November.

Sixty-three passes among girls completing the tutoring program is very good. For perspective, only 120 girls in total were enrolled in all grades of senior high last year. So, these 63 girls will be a strong group of new 10th graders, prepared to thrive in senior high.

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On average, the girls in the tutoring program outperformed local schools as whole.

They also did better on average in math and science scores, areas targeted in tutoring classes, left.

 

img-20180606-wa0003-3.jpgWe especially want to congratulate Bumpeh Academy who had the highest exam results (all students, boys and girls) among schools in 3 adjoining chiefdoms.

Some of their classrooms lack four walls, yet they deliver good results.

Girls from the tutoring program, left, made up about half the school’s students taking the exam.

Girls from the tutoring program were also among the top positions for all local 9th graders taking the exam — both boys and girls. Congratulations to Hellen Bangura for coming in first of any Bumpeh Chiefdom student. Adama Mansaray of Walter Schutz Memorial Secondary School and Isatu Conteh of Bumpeh Academy were among those in second and third positions. You make us proud.

The tutoring program is one example of the education programs our partner CCET provides for the benefit of the whole community. Led by a former school principal and staffed with teachers, they do a great job of identifying needs and designing practical, low-cost solutions that maximize use of limited resources for students in all local schools.

Sherbro Foundation is helping CCET create a sustainable solution to keeping the girls scholarship and tutoring programs funded and improving into the future. Orchards for Education plants fruit trees, long-term income from fruit sales for CCET’s education programs.

Please consider an end-of-the-year gift and see it grow by 50%, matched through a Rotary Club grant! Help plant fruit trees and you’ll keep sending girls to school for years to come. Gifting by December 25 will help us meet Rotary’s deadline for the grant request.

Many thanks to all of you for supporting Bumpeh Chiefdom programs and making 2018 a blessed year. We’re grateful for your generosity and outpouring of support!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season,

— Arlene Golembiewski and the Sherbro Foundation Board of Directors: Chris Golembiewski, Cheryl Farmer and Steve Papelian

 

 

 

#GivingTuesday: Plant a Tree That Will Educate Sierra Leone Girls. Make it a gift.

#GivingTuesday: Plant a Tree That Will Educate Sierra Leone Girls. Make it a gift.

Rotary GiveTues Flyer.pdf convert 10-21-18

On Giving Tuesday when you plant a tree, you’ll educate Sierra Leone girls. You’ll protect the planet, too.

Where else will $35 do as much on #GivingTuesday2018?

You can make your holiday gifts more memorable this year. Give a living tree, an investment in Bumpeh Chiefdom and its girls.

Skip the mall and online sweater orders. Give someone the gift of a tree in their name. You’ll be giving them the experience of changing another person’s life. The tree’s fruit income will fund girls education for many years to come.

It will provide scholarships for girls to go to secondary school. It will fund important extra programs not found in rural schools, like computer training. And special after-school classes helping girls prepare for the senior high entrance exam.

It will pay for some the chiefdom’s very first female high school graduates to continue on to college!

A tree will fund classes for young women dropouts to catch up and return to school, or move on to vocational training. Other women learn to read and write for the first time.

Choose how your gift will change someone’s life: Gift Suggestions

Added bonus: trees help combat climate change. Tropical trees mature quickly absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. They prevent erosion and protect drinking water sources, too.

Now that a holiday gift that’s meaningful and memorable. 

Yet another bonus: a Rotary Club grant will match your gift by 50%. $35 becomes $52.50! $50 becomes $75.  $100 becomes $150.

On Giving Tuesday, give a tree and send Sierra Leone girls and young women to school and to brighter futures. Donate and give gifts here.   

Read more about the Rotary Club partnership to plant new fruit tree orchards for education and everything your gift will do.

Make this Giving Tuesday special – give a tree that will keep on giving.

Thank you!

P. S. One more way you can help. Pass this on to a friend.

Plant a Tree and Send Girls to School

Plant a Tree and Send Girls to School

 

Paramount Chief Charles Caulker has a vision in which every child in Bumpeh Chiefdom gets a secondary school education. We’ve made big strides with Sherbro Foundation’s Girls’ Scholarship Program.

Now Chief and his community nonprofit CCET are creating the chiefdom’s own sustainable source of income for education from fruit trees. Thousands have been planted. Thousands more are needed.

With Sherbro Foundation’s help, the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor is mobilizing Rotary Clubs and individuals through a Rotary International Foundation grant to plant another 15-acre orchard with 1500 fruit trees.

Sherbro Foundation is striving to raise $10,000 toward a $95,000 Rotary grant that will make Chief Caulker’s plan come to life.

We need your help. Plant a tree. It will fruit for years to come, creating income to keep sending girls to school year after year.  

And the Rotary International Foundation will match your gift by 50% !

Adding to orchards planted in 2017-18, the Rotary grant will result in a total of 45 acres of orchards with over 3000 fruit trees. As they start fruiting in 3 – 5 years, the trees will create a steady stream of income for education for 20 years or more. Give here to plant trees.

Growing trees yields big dividends in fruit income, providing students with these essentials every year:

$35 plants one tree (lime, guava, orange, grapefruit or avocado) that will pay secondary school fee scholarships for 2 girls, or a school uniform and notebooks for 1 student.

$70 plants 2 dwarf coconuts that will pay the monthly stipend for a computer instructor.

$100 plants 3 dwarf coconuts that will pay monthly wages for a lead teacher in after-school tutoring that prepares girls for senior high entrance exams.

$250 plants 8 lime trees that will pay living expenses for a community health nursing student who will return to serve in an area rural health clinic.

$600 plants 17 African plum trees and provides the tuition and living expenses for one year of girl’s college scholarship.

You’ll be doing more than planting a tree. Your gift will first help:

  • Clear 15 acres of wild bush – all with manual labor.
  • Grow 15,000 tree seedlings with seed collected from locally purchased fruit.
  • Plant 1500 tree seedlings (Others will be donated to chiefdom families or sold.)
  • Keep all 45 acres of orchards weeded and watered for 2 years.
  • Create 19 full-time jobs for local villagers where no wage-paying jobs now exist.
  • Grow annual crops for short-term income to maintain orchards as fruit trees mature.

The plan will do much more to ensure the orchard’s long term success.

It will dig a well and install a watering system to keep young seedlings watered; build a storehouse and concrete drying floor to handle all the produce; hire an experienced Agriculture Manager to run the program; buy tools and fund operating a truck. Another goal is to expand the successful Women’s Vegetable Growing project, helping eager women farmers grow peanuts and double their incomes.

This sustainable plan will have major impact on chiefdom families.

By 2023, we conservatively estimate the combined orchards will generate $50,000 a year in income for education. And orchard income will keep growing as trees continue to mature.

Added bonus 45 acres of fruit trees will help fight climate change. Tropical trees mature quickly and absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

How you can help

Donate now Give here to plant trees.
100% of your gift goes directly to the project – no overhead expenses.

Checks can be made payable to:
Ann Arbor Rotary Foundation (a 501c3 nonprofit)
PO Box 131217
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48113-1217
Include “Sierra Leone Global Grant” in the memo line.

Give a Holiday Gift – Wouldn’t many on your gift list appreciate planting a tree for them that will educate girls year after year? Donate a $35 gift in their name and we’ll send a gift card describing the impact a tree has for the future of Sierra Leone girls. It’s a gift that truly keeps on giving. Add giftee name and address to the instructions line of your online donation above. For multiple gifts, or donating by check, email giftee info to sherbrofoundation@gmail.com

Ask a Rotary Club to contribute – Are you a Rotarian or do you know one? Many Rotary Clubs are interested in supporting worthwhile international development projects. Contact your local Rotary Club and ask if they would consider this project. We can supply more information.

Questions? Contact: Arlene Golembiewski – sherbrofoundation@gmail.com or Mary Avarkotos, Rotary Club of Ann Arbor – mavarkotos@me.com

Sherbro Foundation will personally thank you for your gift. We’ll direct your gift to the Ann Arbor Rotary Foundation who will coordinate with Rotary International. You’ll receive your tax receipt from the Ann Arbor Rotary Foundation in January.

Plant a Tree. Educate girls. Help the planet. Give a gift.

Where else would $35 accomplish so much?!

And — Rotary International will match your gift 50%! $50 becomes $75. $100 will be $150.

Thank you for investing in the future of Sierra Leone’s Bumpeh Chiefdom children!

— Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director

P.S. Help us more. Pass this on to a friend.

Celebrating Day of the Girl with Scholarships for 460 Girls

Celebrating Day of the Girl with Scholarships for 460 Girls

Sherbro Foundation celebrates October 11th, the International Day of Girl, by giving 460 Sierra Leone girls the gift of education.

We met our 2018-19 Scholarship program goal! 460 girls in four Bumpeh Chiefdom schools are ready to learn with scholarship awards of new school uniforms and notebooks.

Students at Bumpeh Academy Secondary School assemble for the scholarship award ceremony.

Big thanks go out to our generous donors whose support has grown the scholarship program from 67 junior high girls in one school to 460 girls covering all six levels of secondary school in four schools.

In its 6th year, 1700 scholarships have been awarded, giving over 600 girls the opportunity to continue their education. Girls are staying in school and progressing into senior high with repeat scholarships, many returning for a third or even fourth year.

Enjoy the pictures of so many girls eager to start another year of secondary school.

Bumpeh Academy Acting Principal Daniel Koroma said schools are full to overflowing with students this year after the new Sierra Leone government announced its “free education” program. It paid school fees for all students for the first time and deposited the money before the first day of school.

People interpreted free school as including uniforms, but the government didn’t have the money to cover these.

“What the government could not do, you have done,” Acting Principal Koroma told me. “You are reaching an area the government could not afford.”

For many girls, the uniform they receive as their scholarship award will be the only one they have. They’ll wear it day after day for the full school year. Girls have stayed out of school for want of a uniform.

When the scholarship award gives girls a second uniform, it also helps keep them in school. Many students walk four, five, even six miles each way to school.  If they arrive home at 4 p.m. soaked in the rain or hot and sweaty, it’s late to wash their uniform.

The tropical sun sets quickly and it’s dark by 7 p.m. If the uniform isn’t dry by morning, it’s cold to walk in the chilly early dawn hours in wet clothes. Students have missed school Koroma said because they’re ashamed to come without their uniform.

Two sets of clothes for the whole year isn’t much!

Rosaline Kaimbay, Managing Director of our partner CCET, presents Walter Schutz Memorial Secondary School students with uniforms.

Parents are proud to see their daughters continue in school for another year. I’ve learned it’s a fallacy that Sierra Leone parents favor boys over girls, or don’t want girls to go to school.

Time and again I hear adults say, when you educate a girl, you educate the country. Educated women will bring up educated children and they’re the backbone of the country. Girls drop out for the simple reason they cannot afford to continue in school.

Most mothers shown above lost their opportunity to go to secondary school, or even to finish primary school. They’re delighted to cheer their daughters on.

The uniform and exercise books in each award actually cost more than school fees. It takes a big burden off parents, most of whom are subsistence farmers and petty traders. After feeding and clothing their families, there’s little cash to go for school expenses.

We’re especially pleased to welcome Junneth Kamara back to school with her scholarship, left with Bumpeh Academy Principal Koroma.

A 27-year old mother of three and senior high drop out, she returned to school last year with a scholarship.

Junneth picked up in the 10th grade where she had left off four years before, and has now passed into the 11th grade. She’s a woman on a mission to become a nurse, and is a wonderful role model for all.

In schools without text books, students must take notes teachers write on blackboards.

Senior high scholarship awardees get four hardbound notebooks they can refer to two or three years later when studying for their national school completion exams.

“The scholarship program is changing the lives of girls –  giving them direction and ambition.” Bumpeh Chiefdom’s Paramount Chief Charles Caulker

“[Before the program] they didn’t know what their future could be,” he said. “With every year in school, they’re avoiding pregnancy. They’re looking for partners who share their academic vision for the future. … They even look different. They look like people serious about acquiring education for their future.”

That’s a lot to celebrate on this Day of the Girl.

Never Too Late to Return to School

Never Too Late to Return to School

Junneth is one of the most enthusiastic 10th graders you’ll meet. She confidently said she’ll pass to Sierra Leone’s 11th grade, and she just did.

Junneth is also a 27 year-old mother of three. She’s back in school again in Rotifunk’s Bumpeh Academy with a scholarship and uniform after a five-year absence.

Junneth had passed the senior high entrance exam years ago, but her single mother just couldn’t afford her school fees, and she had to drop out. She doesn’t know her father. Along the way, Junneth married, bore four children, and lost one.

Sherbro Foundation’s Girls Scholarship program makes it a priority to keep young women like Junneth from dropping out of school. We offer scholarships to advance them to senior high and on to graduation. At $25, it’s an incredible bargain.

20180706_155347 (2)

People tell me Junneth is one of the hardest working people they know. She gardens all around the house she lives in. Her landlady, above left, gave her a room rent-free because she works so hard to support herself and her children.

20180706_151933 (3)Junneth grows sweet potatoes, (left), corn, yams and eggplant to eat and to sell in the market for money to live on. You’ll see her in a nearby river after school catching fish to eat.

Her husband is an “unqualified” teacher in another town. He’s not credentialed to be paid by the government, so his income is meager. He has little to offer his family.

As time went on, Junneth became more and more motivated to return to school. “I don’t want to sit down and be a woman who be in the kitchen,” she told me. “If I don’t have education in my head, he [my husband] will leave me and go to another who has learned. So that give me the cause to return to school.”

20180706_152359_Moment(28)She explained, an educated woman can work and improve the community. People respect her. Men respect her. When a woman can earn a living and help the family, it helps her marriage. She said, “If I learn, I also [will] have something. He will give; I will also give.” A two-career couple is needed in Sierra Leone to move away from subsistence farming to a more middle class life, just as much as it’s needed in the US.

It also frustrated Junneth to watch many of her friends who completed high school do well with paying jobs. “Some of my sisters go to college. Some of them are teachers. Some are nurses right now… When I see them, I feel offended. I say, why? Some of them, I beat them [on the past senior high entrance exam].”

Junneth also knew that her children would fare better with an educated mother’s help. “When I learn, my children also learn.”

Last September, Junneth went to Rosaline Kaimbay, managing director of the Center for Community Empowerment and Transformation, which administers Sherbro Foundation’s Girls’ Scholarship program. “I cry to her, please help me. And she did. I really appreciate it.”

20180706_152359_Moment(30)Mrs. Kaimbay arranged a scholarship, asked Bumpeh Academy to enroll Junneth in school and gave her a uniform. She became a proud 10th grade student, in her first year of senior high, picking up where she left off years before.

 “She’s doing very well,” Mrs. Kaimbay said proudly.

Her principal just confirmed that Junneth passed her first year despite her long absence, and is moving on to 11th grade. She’s become a role model for other girls in school – and for her children.

Junneth knows where she’s going.

“I want to do nursing. That is my plan.” 

My grandmother was a nurse and taught me many things. She called me, even during the night, when delivering a baby. I want to be higher than [my companions who are nurses] if I put my focus there.”  With a small hospital in Rotifunk and government health centers in villages around the area, there should be a job for Junneth when she’s ready.

Junneth’s story of determination to get an education despite the odds and life’s cruel detours is not unique. Many Sierra Leone senior high “girls” are really young women, 21 and 22 years of age or more by the time they graduate. Their educations were interrupted – maybe more than once – because their families couldn’t continue to pay. Often one or both parents died, became ill, left the home, or aged and stopped working.

Early marriage and children are the fate of too many young women forced to drop out like Junneth. Sherbro Foundation’s goal is to keep them in school, learning and preparing for careers where they can support their families and help develop their communities.

I’d say that’s a tremendous investment from a $25 scholarship. Paramount Chief Charles Caulker sends his thanks for everyone’s support in sending Bumpeh Chiefdom girls to school. Parents, he says, are taking advantage of the opportunity the Scholarship Program offers to educate their children.

“More girls here are learning and at a higher level than ever before.”

You can return Junneth to school in September and young women like her. Please help here: I’ll send a young woman to school. 

We’ll double your impact. Our matching funds are being claimed. But the Sherbro Foundation Board will match the next $4000 donated.

 Thank you!

— Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director