26 Oct Wild Minds in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is probably viewed by most outsiders based on news reports spanning the period of their civil war. An internal conflict which devastated the country for more than a decade (1991 – 2002) and left more than 50,000 people dead, much of the country’s infrastructure destroyed, and over two million people displaced as refugees in neighbouring countries.
More recent events in the country have reached news outlets in the form of an Ebola virus epidemic beginning in 2014. The impact was felt across the country and by the end of 2014 there were nearly 3,000 deaths and 10 thousand cases of the disease in Sierra Leone.
On the 7th November 2015, Sierra Leone was officially declared Ebola free by the World Health Organisation after clearing the 42 days since the last new case of the deadly virus – the period of time that must pass for a country to be deemed Ebola-free.
One look at recent historical events in Sierra Leone, it is immediately visible this is a country that has faced considerable challenges.
Charities work with the country and its people to undo the damage done to the country and invest in their development. Street Child is one such charity with a mission to create educational opportunity for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Street Child began its work in Sierra Leone in 2008 working with a small number of street children. As little as five years later, we had helped around 2,000 street children create stronger bonds with their families and have helped more than 20,000 out of school children gain access to education.
Street Child continues to have a huge presence in Sierra Leone, working where the need is greatest and the help from NGOs and other charities is often least.
Wild Minds in Sierra Leone
In under one week, the Wild Minds team are flying out to Sierra Leone.
Why Sierra Leone? Wild Minds co-founder Charlie Tweed has experience in country. As a trained Military Doctor, Charlie chose to volunteer with Street Child during a period of the Ebola virus epidemic, working with local teams delivering reconstruction support to the population, particularly focused in the rural areas where there were many children left orphaned from the epidemic.
As part of that journey, Charlie encountered a Street Child community specialist and survivor of the Sierra Leone Civil War, Mr Konteh. Listening to his tales of the war, the recent epidemic in the country, and his efforts to support Street Child activities in the region, it transpired Mr Konteh had been attempting to write his memoirs from the Civil War. Charlie as an existing published author took the opportunity to assist Mr Konteh and oversee editing of his memoirs into a publishable book. It is now finally finished.
Wild Minds will travel back to Sierra Leone and attempt to locate Mr Konteh but there has been limited and sporadic contact over the last few months with him.
As part of the journey, Wild Minds co-founder and filmmaker Red Morley Hewitt, we will be documenting the return trip to meet up with Mr Konteh. In addition they will be curious to see how the country has changed in the year since being declared Ebola free. They will be meeting up with Street Child ambassadors capturing their views in country and meeting the people of Sierra Leone.
Street Child is a UK charity, established in 2008, that aims to create educational opportunity for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Starting in Sierra Leone, then the poorest country in the world, we have supported over 50,000 urban and rural children to access a quality education.
Together with our local partners, the charity has grown since 2008 from one project for 100 children in Northern Sierra Leone, to one of the most broad-reaching charities currently working in the region with 50 projects in multiple countries.
Street Child’s principal focus is upon empowering children by giving them the chance to go to school and giving their families the wherewithal to keep them there.
Photo Credit: Tobias Van Der Elst