Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link
Minutes of the ordinary general meeting of 21st March 2019
[The minutes are rather long, as they include four reports from members who were there in February/March, working with the schools, and looking at the health centre and the schools’ sanitation situation]
Present: Bill & Eileen Evans, Braidie Paton, Christine Boulton-Lane, Richard Lane, Isabel Hodger, Derek Tomblin, Ray Keene, David Lewis, Cllr Nigel Sinden, Nola McSweeney, Roger Mitchell, Mandy Hinxman, Richard Homewood (chair), Robin Gray (minutes).
- Apologies for absence: Asif Kahn, Liz MacKay, Cllr James Bacon, Edwin Rew, Jacqui Homewood, Lynn White, Martin Copland
- Minutes of the OGM of 17th Jan 2019. These were accepted.
- Chairman’s Report. Richard made no separate report in order to leave the maximum amount of time for the major reports on the February visit.
- Treasurer’s Report. In Martin’s absence, Robin presented the report together with some explanatory notes Martin had given. There was an unusually large figure for donations, including £100 for a talk Christine gave, £200 from Hastings & St Leonards Sea Angling Association, £275 from St Helen’s Church, £250 from Halton Baptist Church and £250 from Asif Khan. BTDonate has wound itself up and paid over a lump sum without explanations. (Martin has since managed to log on to the account to get the details.) The sum of £2900 raised by Claverham School for the installation of solar panels will be paid in full once the installation is finalised. Derek’s 80th birthday is shown as having raised £850 in donations, though this will rise to around £1000. The £2000 Isabel took to SL was largely unspent, though the meeting agreed to £295.53 being spent on the workshops that were run during the visit. Robin to check with Martin as to whether invoices have gone to all the schools for their contribution to F Mason’s honorarium. Martin will produce an updated spreadsheet for the next meeting, showing what sums are committed.
- Schools Report: Isabel presented her written report (see Annex A) accompanying it with some slides.Isabel’s photos It is really encouraging to see the impact the workshops are having, with the SL teachers who have been to Hastings now passing ideas on to their peers. She noted that, now that the SL Government has decreed education for all and no alternating sessions, without increasing resources or teacher numbers, the teachers’ workload is even heavier. Braidie reported that one class has 160 children. Isabel expressed admiration for Letitia Huggins’ hard work and enthusiasm in training teachers. Letitia is delighted that she will be aided by Jaitta Kanney, a retired headteacher who is well-known to the Link. Kris Cymer’s report on installing solar panels at Huntingdon and IT being used in lessons, is attached as Annex B. Roger expressed his deep appreciation of Isabel’s professionalism and the tremendous amount of work she has put in, together with Mandy Hinxman, on securing British Council grants. He is having difficulty in finding a suitable date for the inter-schools football tournament. The likely date, now, is Tuesday 11th HBC has kindly offered use of the Bulverhythe pitches, free.
- Health Report: Again, Christine accompanied her report (see Annex C) with some helpful slides. Christine’s photos Although knitted babywear is acceptable (and is used as a way to encourage mothers to bring their baby back in to the Centre for inoculations), she does not want to be inundated with it. Christine reported that the Headman was pleased with the framed copy of the twinning charter and gifts supplied by the Mayor’s Office, and that she has brought Kainde Pearce and the Headman together. It is hoped that they will be able to work together for the good of the village. With Ray’s help with the paperwork, she has been able to give £500 to Binta at the Health Centre. The Centre’s electricity had been cut off, but the problem may be solved by the new District Medical Officer – a woman, who is sympathetic and appreciative of the Link’s work. The DMO has promised to fund the training of more staff to use the scanner. Christine did flag up that her group may need to ask for a further modest sum for certain necessary improvements. Binta is keen to move TB and HICV patients to an outbuilding.
- Sanitation Report: Richard L accompanied his report (see Annex D) with very helpful slides: Some of Richard’s photos He was able to confirm that the facts and figures in Dauda Wurie’s survey were quite accurate, though it was clear that some wells needed deepening, and some schools needed water-tanks. The photos of the facilities at WeltHungerHilfe’s HQ were encouraging. In the end, Richard recommended concentrating on getting water supplies to the schools. This will mean getting the SL schools to give detailed, accurate information on their situation. Will simply our paying for connection to the mains (about £300, depending on distance) be enough? Or a well being deepened? Pumps should be security-protected. A few schools have wells originally dug by Plan International. Isabel has drawn PI’s attention to the fact that these wells no longer function, and PI will look into it, and possibly pay for repairs. These factors may mean that we can get water to the schools at reasonable cost. WHH has put toilets only into private houses – i.e. flushing toilets. Such toilets in schools would need cesspools, which could be a problem in the vicinity of a well. We are likely to be thinking more in terms of drop toilets. We will wait for WHH to produce specifications and a quote (with possible part-funding) for a pilot scheme at Jui Lower. The Chairman thanked Isabel, Christine and Richard for the tremendous work they did during their visit, and for their detailed reports. The money we may save by only having to upgrade existing water systems, and only in some schools, and by installing drop toilets rather than anything more sophisticated, could be spent on classrooms, which the headteachers would welcome. Although it seems that connecting schools to the piped supply is a right, nevertheless it would be wise to follow procedures. It was agreed that Isabel should ask the headteachers of the schools in question to apply to Sam Williams (who is responsible for connections to the supply), and to get estimates of costs.
- Fundraising events: (a) Quiz Night (15th March). Very successful, in spite of AV problems that were solved in the nick of time. Robin reported that Jack McLean has promised to prepare a precise guide to the AV system for hirers in future. The evening raised about £1750.
(b) Sussex Brass Concert Friday 24th May. 7 pm start, two halves of 45 mins as previously, with an interval for refreshments. Richard, Robin and Mandy to print posters and tickets and to see to publicity. Roger urged that Link members each take a few tickets to sell. Robin will try to arrange for tickets to be available for purchase on-line, like the orange quiz sheets. Admission £10 adults, £5 students, to include light refreshments. Richard to talk to Yvonne. If she is willing to cater, there would only be time for finger food, not the full-scale African meal sometimes provided. We will invite the Mayor and Deputy Mayor officially, and Richard will enquire if Amber Rudd would like to come.
(c) Wine-tasting Evening: Saturday 13th July. Robin asked members who are interested, to let Lynn know, since a minimum number will be crucial, and Lynn will need to be able to cater for the buffet. firstname.lastname@example.org or 01424 853356.
(d) Music Quiz Friday 20th September. Please make a note of the date.
- AOB: (a) Use of the Twin Towns Centre. Discussion held over to our next meeting, by which time Richard should have received facts and figures that we have been promised.
(b) We were sad to hear of the death of Victor Campbell, who was involved in the link between the two Hastings from early on, and chaired the village committee. It was agreed to make a donation through Yvette.
- Date of Next Meeting. The AGM on Saturday 11th May. Meet at St Helen’s Church Hall at 1pm for lunch, with the AGM proper to start at 2pm.
Annex A: Schools Report
This report focuses on the recent visit to Sierra Leone.
The visit took place from 26th February to 9th March. It was just the 4 of us, Christine for the Health Centre, Richard who spent time in REC Hastings as well as leading on the Sanitation Project, Kris Cymer, IT Manager at Claverham, who was leading on the Solar Panel Project, and myself. It was successful in achieving our main aims as follows.
The 6 teachers who visited UK in October helped me organise and run the two workshops. We met on the first afternoon and planned their involvement.
There were two workshops, one for teachers held at the Twin Town Centre, that included some more ideas for teaching mathematics, and one for Headteachers, held at Huntingdon Allentown, which included demonstrating the laptop and projector run by the solar panel set up by Kris Cymer. Each workshop covered aspects of school improvement – ‘What makes a good teacher/headteacher’, ‘What makes a good school’ – and a strategy for making those improvements. Each workshop also included a session from Richard on the Sanitation Project, and a session from me on the Zero Waste project and the expectations from the British Council. Evaluations from both workshops were mostly positive.
Following that, Letitia and I visited as many schools as possible, talking through their plans for school improvement and Zero Waste, and watching some teachers teaching the maths we had covered.
I also gathered names of teachers who would be visiting in 2019 and 2010 and encouraged them to get their passports as soon as possible.
Other activities included attending an IPC meeting, meeting with the new head of the British Council Tony Reilly, discussing plans for the future with key teachers, and setting up a monitoring team lead by Letitia and Jaitta.
I am hoping they will set up community headteachers meetings to encourage each other to continue with their plans, and also pairs of headteachers working together to support each other. I am also hoping that there will be more sharing of ideas with teachers and more staff meetings and training workshops. These might take place at Huntingdon so that the laptop and projector can be used.
British Council projects
ICT using Solar Power
This project was set up between Claverham Community College and Huntingdon Allentown. Kris and Fiona worked very hard before the visit to ensure it was successful in its initial aims. Pleas see attached report from Kris Cymer for more details.
Incredibly successful initially, we are now hoping that it will be used regularly for its intended purpose, and we can eventually install similar systems in other schools.
There are several projects already running in Sierra Leone to improve the waste problems there. One called The Green Club, which several of our schools belong to already, and one which is a country wide initiative called ‘Clean Up Saturday’. This takes place once a month, when from dawn to 12 noon, no traffic is allowed anywhere, and everyone is expected to clean up their compounds and their streets. It happened while we were there and we took part in it, urged on by Christine!
Our own activities included promoting the project in the workshops and during visits to schools, attending an IPC (International Pupil Council) meeting where students expressed their views and ideas, and promoting community projects. We also met with the Deputy headman (a woman), and the secretary of Jui community (who is also a teacher at Huntingdon Jui), and they agreed to take back the idea of a village dump for all the plastic.
I believe this project has been met with enthusiasm, and I am hopeful that it will be sustained to improve the environmental safety of the community.
Richard and I worked on this, with Richard leading the workshop section, and adding some very clever touches along the way! Richard also visited WHH headquarters with Cordelia Sannah, headteacher of Jui Lower. Please see attached report.
While we were there we learnt of other developments regarding the water supply which might influence our plans for the way forward.
The boxes that were shipped to Sierra Leone from schools in UK arrived at the Twin Town Centre at the same time as our arrival. This was very timely as we could tell schools they were there and to collect them. Thanks to Christine for doing all the packing and organisation on our behalf.
Christine and I attended a committee meeting of the Twin Town Centre.
We all had a meal with Cecil Coker, who gave us some very interesting and useful information about the water supply.
We had a meal at Sam French’s house.
We talked several times with Frederick Coker about Twin Town Centre issues.
We had a trip out to Port Loko, where Francis has an office for a project working with mental health issues sponsored by Comic Relief. We also visited a school there, in the middle of the countryside, that he set up to provide education for children who could not get into the town. It was a cashew nut producing area.
We enjoyed a very good meal at Francis Mason’s house.
We met up with Alex Gilchrist from Easy Solar at a very posh hotel in Freetown called The Hub.
We visited the new hotel being built in Hastings, and decided it would not be suitable for our group next year. The access by road was not suitable for a coach, and the access within the hotel was by a lot of slopes and uneven steps.
And after church on Sunday, spent a wonderful afternoon at the beach.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the crucial part that Francis and Abie Mason and Yvette John played in making our visit such a success. We could not have done it without them.
Isabel Hodger. (13/03/19)
Annex B: Kris Cymer’s ITC report on ITC in Huntingdon Allentown Secondary School
The goal of my visit to Huntingdon Secondary School, Allentown was to introduce ICT to the school in the shape of a Laptop, Projector, Screen and Solar panel to provide electricity for the system. Claverham Community College received the laptop as a donation from one of our pupils, Cavendish School in Eastbourne donated the projector. Fiona Kemp, Claverham link teacher, spent a great deal of time researching resources that would be suitable for our partner school and the laptop was loaded with these resources, as no internet would be available at Huntingdon Allentown. These resources included TESSA resources, Science lessons, information about the British Council and the joint Zero Waste Project, plus much more.
We contacted some companies about the installation of the solar panel and to find out the cost of such installation. The cost was around £3000 and we decided to raise that money, through numerous activities in our school, like a non-uniform day and cake stalls. We chose Easy Solar as a supplier and installer, as they were the only company that kept in touch after many emails. The date for the installation was set for 27th February, the day after our arrival in Sierra Leone.
I arrived at the school in the morning accompanied by Isabel Hodger, and we were introduced to the head teachers of the Junior Secondary and the Senior Secondary schools, given a guided tour and introduced to the students. Installation started around 1pm and work continued till 5 pm. Unfortunately, it wasn’t completed that day and workers had to come back the next day. During that time, I made myself familiar with school settings, classes and how school day worked. I attended 3 lessons, to see how the teaching was done in Huntingdon. On Thursday installers connected all the cables to the solar panel and placed it temporarily on a raised platform just outside the classroom. The permanent fixing will take place later in the month when the parts arrive from Germany.
I invited the school head teacher and teachers to show them how the system works. I ran through a short presentation I created after observing a lesson on the previous day. School staff were impressed by how much cleaner the writing was, compared to blackboard and chalk. Some students came by and commented that it is much easier to read from the back of the classroom, as text on usual blackboard was much smaller and teacher hand writing not always easy to read.
The next day we hosted the Head Teachers Conference, where Isabel Hodger used the system for her presentation on how to be a Good Headteacher. This was the first time the system was fully used. Headteachers were really impressed and very quickly saw the benefit, of such a way of displaying information, using text and pictures, making bullet points appear one by one etc, all the techniques we know and use in our schools everyday. I demonstrated how the system could be used in schools, and showed the headteachers some of the resources available on the laptop. We encouraged the headteachers from other schools to use the room with the laptop as a training room for workshops, as well as encouraging individual teachers to gain access to resources from other schools. I explained how these resources could be downloaded onto smart phones.
On the following Tuesday, I organized training for teachers who were leaders for this project in Huntingdon. Two other head teachers were interested in their teachers taking part – Huntingdon Jui Secondary School and Edest Primary School. The morning was allocated to train teachers on how to create and use the presentation software. Teachers decided on a Social Studies lesson, they had to type in the text, create bullet points and add text animations.
After lunch one of the teachers performed the lesson, using their created presentation. 4 classes were represented by 5 pupils from each, so they could later share what they had seen and what they think about it with their colleagues. I provided the teacher with a packet of biscuits, so he could reward the most active pupils. As the teacher didn’t have to write everything on the board he could spend more time on interaction with the pupils.
He started with revision of the previous lesson, asking pupils for definitions and then revealing them on the screen. He then continued with the main lesson, again asking children to take part.
I think the lesson was a great achievement, both teacher and pupils were very enthusiastic, and learning progress was faster. It was clear that both parties enjoyed the lesson.
After the lesson we had a short discussion with the other teachers who took part in the training. All agreed that this format is more positive and bring great benefit to the classroom. News spread quickly and other schools’ head teachers showed an interest in having a similar system, or at least a laptop.
I would like to suggest that linked schools in UK could work towards donating one laptop to their linked school. I think if pupils and parents were asked to donate a second hand working laptop, each school could have one. There are teachers in each school I visited in Sierra Leone who are capable of using a laptop and can became ICT leaders in their respective schools.
Annex C: Health Report
Report of visit to Hastings Health Centre and subsequent HSLFL Health Centre Sub-Committee Report – February/March 2019
I am pleased to report that the work authorised by the Link has been completed. The painting of the facility certainly improves the look of the interior of the building and contributes to the wellbeing of both staff and patients. The new blue roof sadly is covered in dust and is not really visible but I have been assured by all that under the layers of dust is a blue roof.
The items which were sent in December arrived in Hastings exactly when required and I unpacked the contents and checked whether all were required with Eric and Sister Marvel who were in charge in the absence of CHO Binta Bah who was on a course. I was assured that virtually everything would be used although they would agree this with Binta. It was good to note, too, that the laboratory was now staffed. The TB unit was not in use but I have been assured that this will take place in the very near future.
I met with Binta on Saturday 2nd March and discussed with her the past year and her thoughts for the future. This meeting coincided with a 24 hour power cut and I was able to see the generator in action (not for light but to charge various devices). However the electricity had been cut off to the facility due to yet another overdue bill having been rendered to the facility but which they should not be liable to pay. Binta had visited the local Councillor and I agreed to speak to the Headman about it. However, in order for this not to happen again, she has requested a solar panel which would completely alleviate the need for electrical power from the grid. CBL agreed to seek the advice of Kris (IT Claverham School). Subsequently I met Alex Gilchrist (whose Company supplied the Solar Panel installed in one of our Schools) who has agreed to visit the site in order to give a quotation should this be agreed. She also agreed to source training for others to be able to use Scanner.
Report of Visit to DMO (District Medical Officer)
I am very pleased to report that my visit to the new DMO was extremely productive. The meeting had been arranged by Sallu Lansana who has continued to be a huge help to me. The DMO was very interested in all that had been done over the years and was surprised that none of the work we had done had been documented – something which she intended to do and for which she thanked the Link. She and I agreed to keep in touch and we are hoping to meet later this year.
She is also going to look into the question of the electricity bill and scanner training for more staff
Report of HSLFL – Sub Committee Meeting – 11th March 2019
Following the meeting this morning I confirm that those present, having heard your report on your visit to the Health Centre, agreed that we should seek agreement to take forward the suggestion from Binta concerning Solar Panels.
This would be intended to supplement/replace the main electricity supply when this is not available due to power cuts or when supply is cut-off due to non payment of the bill. This latter problem occurs when the relevant body (not the Centre itself) does not deal with invoices at the appropriate time.
The Health Committee agreed that it was worthwhile seeking advice and a quote from Alex Gilchrist who is involved with this business.
We would like his advice as to initial costs, any ongoing costs, how surplus power generated could be stored, if by battery what initial costs and what ongoing replacement costs (how much and how often) and if there is a facility such as in the UK where surplus power is sold to the National grid. (This list may not cover all the points raised).
The committee agreed that this should be presented to the next General meeting or Trustees meeting for consideration. We would only wish to proceed with a free quote and/or report unless any cost was to be minimal, say under £250.
Ray Keene (11.3.19)
Annex D: Sanitation Project Report
A report was prepared for the Link by Dauda Wurie in 2018. This described the situation as to the water supply, toilets, hand washing and garbage disposal for the various schools.
During Workshops on 28th February and 1st March the respective annexes to the Report were considered by teachers and head-teachers respectively. The Annexes were found to be accurate but generally it was found that the wells were insufficiently deep. Ideally they need to be dug in March when the water level is at its lowest and the need for provision of water tanks was also identified.
Schools, Churches and Mosques in Hastings are all entitled to connect to the piped water supply, subject to payment of the necessary connection costs.
On 4th March Yaha Kagbo and Salu Kamara both of Welthungerhilfe visited Jui Lower School at the request of the Link. Jui Lower’s original well was lost as the result of the building of the main highway by the Chinese and was not replaced. The School has to buy and bring in their own water. The conclusion was
(i) Drill for water checking to see whether access to water is possible or would be obstructed by rocks.
(ii) Hand dug well.
It was agreed that they would prepare a detailed specification with the estimated costs and consider the possibility of a financial contribution by them to the project.
Cordelia Sannah and Richard Lane visited their factory in Waterloo to inspect the wells and pumps and the types of toilets and hand basins produced by the Company. This is a German Engineering Company using local workers. A collection of photographs recording the visit is available.
The following linked Schools do not have a water supply:-
Jui Lower (see above)
Hastings REC – the handle of the well was stolen and the water supply pipe disconnected. Reconnection would cost £300 approximately
The following linked Schools need a deeper well:-
Baptist Primary Grafton
Kossoh Town Primary
Huntingdon Allen Town
The following non-linked Schools need a water supply or a deeper well:-
Smart Foundation Kossoh Town
Cremson Primary, Kossoh Town
Gateway, Kossoh Town
The provision of water either by connection to the existing water supply or by a deep enough well appears to be the priority. This will assist the provision of hand washing facilities. The need for toilet facilities is probably best delayed until all linked Schools have access to water.
The collection of garbage has been addressed with enthusiasm by most Schools who seem keen to embrace the Zero Waste Project and Jui Lower and Huntingdon Jui are members of Green Club International