Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link

Link group heads off to Hastings SL on February 14th

Friendship Link Team prepares for a busy time in Twin Town in Sierra Leone

23 teachers and volunteers from Hastings are busy preparing for their visit to our Twin Town, Hastings in Sierra Leone in just under a week’s time. The Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link will be leading a party of 18 Teachers and 5 Link volunteers to continue work on the Link’s strategic themes of education, health, creating livelihoods and community support.

Isabel Hodger who is leading the team of teachers with the help of Roger Mitchell said:

“The teachers have been working with the British Council and their twinned schools in Hastings Sierra Leone to develop lesson plans and projects to share cultures through learning. The UK teachers all received the British Council Global Teacher Awards as a result and are keen to begin to use their new skills in Sierra Leone.“

Alongside the teachers, volunteers from the Link will be working on major projects to improve sanitation and hygiene in schools, focussing on sustainable water supplies, toilets, improved hygiene facilities and waste management.

Richard Homewood, Chairman of the Link said:

“The Schools’ Sanitation Project is our latest initiative. Clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are essential for the survival and development of children. According to UNICEF, every day, over 800 children die, worldwide, from preventable diseases caused by the lack of these. It is acknowledged that Sub Saharan Africa, which includes Sierra Leone, lags far behind other continents in addressing the problem. In Sierra Leone the lack of these basic facilities in our twinned schools is impacting on their education and their futures. Children often miss out on education because they spend hours every day collecting water and are exhausted if and when they get to school. Many older girls have to miss school on a regular basis due to the lack of menstrual hygiene facilities. Whilst we can’t tackle the problem in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa, we can improve the prospects for the future of children in the schools we are twinned with in Hastings, Sierra Leone by ensuring they have a sustainable water supply, good basic sanitation and hygiene facilities. Following a survey of all of the twinned schools, we have already funded work at four schools to provide sustainable water supplies. During the visit we will work with the remaining schools to identify what they need and how we can help provide it.”

Isabel added:

“The teachers in the 27 partnered schools have already been working with their pupils on a Zero Waste project to minimise waste and increase recycling as part of this project. Posters produced by the children in the UK will be taken and judged by the children in Sierra Leone at an International Pupil Council meeting during the visit.” 

Work will also continue to improve facilities at the Health Centre in Hastings where there is a need for specific equipment but more importantly triage and isolation facilities.   Survey work will be carried out during the visit and the scope of the work agreed so that fundraising can continue.

Christine Boulton-Lane, Chair of the Link’s Health Committee said:

“I am very much looking forward to working with the hard working staff at the Health Centre again.  There is always much to be done but they are so grateful for the things we have been able to do over the years we have been working with them, even through the period of the Ebola emergency.“

The team will be working with the community to assess what other help the Link can offer including exploring including job creation to help people gain sustainable employment or create their own businesses to earn a living after they leave school.  David Lewis, who is currently helping to develop future strategy for the Link’s Creating Livelihoods project to help relieve widespread poverty in Sierra Leone, said:

“I am really looking forward to my first visit to Hastings, Sierra Leone where I will be seeking to identify opportunities for employment and the development of sustainable businesses. I will also be investigating the availability of vocational training through visits to secondary schools, technical institutes,  development NGOs, local charities and community groups. I will be working on identifying stakeholders for potential partnerships in the Hastings area in order to achieve the project’s ambitious objectives around securing the futures of future generations”.

 

Richard Homewood concluded by saying:

“Everybody is extremely excited by the challenges and opportunities this visit to our Twin Town presents. We have several projects underway all of which have the potential to make a huge difference to the daily lives of the community there. None of this can be done without the support of the community here in the UK and we are extremely grateful to the people of Hastings UK  and the surrounding areas  in helping us to achieve so much in Hastings, Sierra Leone since we first started working there at the end of Rebel War. There is an awful lot more to do and we need your continued support for the work to continue.”

                                                               A warm welcome awaits our group