New Committee in Bo

New Committee in Bo

Following the tragic recent deaths of Maada Fobay and Alpha Bah,  both active and key members of the OWL committee in Bo, the committee met on 14th March 2020 to elect a new executive. The new Chairman is Dr Wusu Sannoh, ex. Mayor of Bo, and Chairman of the Bo Children’s Hospital Board and a much respected elder in the Bo community.

They are a committed and active team and we can look forward with confidence to the future of One World Link. At the first executive meeting the members had to keep themselves 2m apart in order to comply with public health instructions to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 virus. 

The full executive is as follows:

Chairman – Doctor Wusu Sannoh
Vice Chair – Janet Tucker
Secretary General – Francis Jusu
Assistant Secretary General – Jennifer Abdulai
Social Secretary – Kula M. Fangawa
Assistant Secretary – Nemahun C. Vandy
Financial Secretary – Catherine K. Kamara
PRO – Donald Mustapha.

UK Teachers visit Bo, Feb 2020

A letter to the Bo Teachers’ Committee from the visiting teachers.

22nd  Feb 2020

Dear John Sandi and Bo OWL Teachers Group,

UK teachers visit Bo. Feb 2020

We wish to write primarily to thank you and congratulate you on organising a very successful, enjoyable and productive visit (9th– 16th Feb). As we sort through and reflect on our photos, videos, gifts and memories we realise we have so much to be grateful for, which took place in a concentrated week but whose effects will last much, much longer.

We are so impressed with the many activities and experiences you enabled to take place. 

  • You managed the logistics of getting two pupils and two teachers from every school to the Field Trip at BCC Waste Management centre and the Growth Centre. Most schools had chosen pupils who remained engaged and were able to express what they had learnt verbally and cascade this information to their schools the next day. This was effective and the learning should have an impact on the attitudes of staff, pupils and parents. We hope the key messages will be followed up by schools in future assemblies and lessons. We know many teachers are passionate about enabling this.
  • Tim and Liz visited all 15 schools and saw many positive developments; many more text books being used in classes (sometimes shared by pupils 1:3), new buildings, in some schools on-going repairs, the increased use of positive behaviour management strategies such as hand clapping or chanting. We also observed your considerable on-going challenges of over-crowding, lack of teachers, teachers still awaiting pin-codes after 5+ years and many others. We admire you so much for your perseverance and will discuss ways in which OWL might influence change.
St Francis School's resource bag
St Francis opening their resource bag at the workshop, with gifts from St Anthony’s
  • Most schools sent three teachers to the workshop which covered Global Learning, our Talking Rubbish Project, Waste Management in Bo, Climate Change and literacy skills developed from ‘One Plastic Bag’ story. The engagement, effort and attitude of participants was fantastic. Some of the interactive tasks needed further explanation eg. The Diamond 9 discussion activity and the story-mapping, but you were not afraid to ask for further help and the results increased understanding of the skills and issues taught. We do now hope that what you have acquired from the workshop will be trialled in your classrooms and we eagerly await feedback and photographic evidence. Eg. A teacher at St Charles Lwanga used the Inside/Outside characterisation activity with the life of Mary of Nazareth. We urge you to go ahead developing one another’s digital capacity using mobile phones (mini-computers!) to access the internet for further Global Learning and increased global communication.
  • We were interviewed by SLBC for a radio programme the following evening to spread the positive work of OWL further.
  • You organised visits to many other places which have increased our understanding of life in Bo; the Waste site at Mile 5, the Teaching Service Commission, Paul School for the Blind, Sunday morning church at St Francis and St Teresa and a journey to Kenema, Segbwema and finally Yandohun village where we were able to pass on condolences to the family and friends of our dear late Chairman Maada. Here we also admired the recently renovated ‘barrie’ and re-built school and gave a case of resources to the school.
  • We were treated to a number of social events which have deepened our friendships and enabled us to know more about each other. A great evening out dancing at Sidami’s, followed by the boys being taken to Dreams to witness yet another aspect of Bo life. The Social Secretaries excelled themselves again, catering for both the welcome evening and the farewell party, as well as an evening for the June 2019 team to reunite over food, drinks, music and laughter. The gifts you gave us will be treasured along with our memories of this amazing visit.
  • The hospitality, friendship and care shown by the staff of the OWL Centre was, as usual, superb and we felt very welcome and comfortable.

All the above would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Teachers Committee and members (new and old) under the leadership of your able Coordinator, John Sandi. You have developed to be a considerable strength within OWL and now we hope many of you will be able to support the work of the parent body at a time of great sadness and loss.

With very best wishes and sincere gratitude, Liz, Tim, Cathryn and Harry (OWL Teachers – Warwick District, UK)

Health Link Visit to Bo

Chief, Imam and health workers at Yemoh Town CHC
Chief, Imam, health workers and visitors open the new facilities at Yemoh Town CHC

Helena White and Richard Hall visited Sierra Leone in January 2020 to make contacts and discuss further development of a health link. They visited St Paul’s School for the Blind, Bo Children’s Hospital and Yemoh Town Community Health Centre to discuss future plans and to look at projects completed. At the community health centre they attended the formal ‘opening’ of their new facilities.

They also visited some of the remote rural areas with staff from Bo District Council. The size of the district and difficulties for travel and accessing services became very apparent.

Alpha Bah took them to his own community on the outskirts of Bo, Ngeybayama. There they were met with a full reception from the whole community, with singing, dancing and speeches. Sadly this was the last time they saw Alpha; he had been ill for some time and died soon after the visit

A the end of their visit there was a meeting of the Bo One World Link Health Link committee at the OWL Centre. This was a significant step in the development of the new link.

New delivery bed at Yemoh Town CHC
Health Centre staff and Helena with the new maternity bed at Yemoh Town CHC

Finally, back in Freetown, they had very encouraging meetings at the Ministry of Health & Sanitation and British High Commission.

Read the detailed report.

Tribute to Alfred Maada Fobay

Tribute to Alfred Maada Fobay

Alfred Maada Fobay died in his sleep on Wednesday, 18th December, aged only 52, in Kono. The shock of Maada’s death hit his family and community in Bo with a huge impact of sorrow and loss. But it did not stop there, because the energy Maada put into the development of One World Link , made that sorrow and loss all the more poignantly felt by his many friends in Warwick and Leamington in the UK, who knew him and loved and admired him so much.

Johannes Mallah senior, one of the first OWL chairmen, worked with Maada at BKPS after the war, and recognised his potential in those far off days. Johannes guided him toward One World Link, and we all shared his admiration for this strong and visionary young man. He eventually became Chairman of One World Link and in that role won the respect and appreciation of us all.

Maada was always striving to absorb more information and ideas about development for his community, his country, about global relations and the environment. His vision and activities inspired us all. In the UK we relied on him to guide OWL activities, and the UK approach to development in Sierra Leone. He was quick to contradict us if he thought our ideas inappropriate, and he was also quick to take on new ideas.

The success of some of the projects with which One World Link has become involved, would not have happened without the energy and enthusiasm of Maada, and his guiding hand. Friends in One World Link were so proud of Maada’s involvement with the Waste Management project in Bo, which started from such small beginnings and our joint work. It led to him becoming the Project Leader with a consultancy, taking the project from Bo to three other towns in Sierra Leone and receiving recognition for his achievements outside the country.

We find it hard to believe he is no longer with us. we extend our deepest condolences to all in Bo, and especially to his family.

May God take care of this wonderful man and may his memory inspire us all to work harder for peace and harmony in our world to continue his brilliant work.

See also the press statement issued by UK OWL

Turning Bags to Bricks

Turning Bags to Bricks

The Ecobricks campaign and the waste management project in Bo have featured prominently in the International Solid Waste Association President’s blog, with an article by Alfred Maada Fobay, the Chairman of Bo One World Link. The Ecobricks campaign is the product of the collaboration between schools in the UK and in Bo. The waste management project is a partnership of Bo Council, Welthungerhilfe (a German NGO) and One World Link. The article explains how the actions of schoolchildren are helping the local authority to clean the environment.

New Ecobricks Wine Bar at OWL Centre

Bo OWL have built a wine bar with walls constructed entirely of Ecobricks.
Ecobricks are made by stuffing used plastic bottles tightly with plastic waste that cannot be recycled. It is estimated that some 900 plastic bottles filled with 150kg of plastic waste have gone into the construction. Schools in Bo have taken up the Ecobricks scheme with great enthusiasm.

OWL-sponsored planning workshop in Bo

Mair Evans and Philip Clarke visited Bo between January and February 2019. The main purpose and focus of the visit was to deliver some further training and support in urban planning for Bo City Council (BCC) as part of the One World Link’s support for the wider work being undertaken on behalf of the Prince’s Foundation “Rapid Urbanisation Toolkit”.

The aim of the three-day workshop was to:-

  1. Review the SE cluster “consistency” of five Wards in Bo including the Eastern Police barracks and the town expansion area.
  2. Understand and bring together the planned interventions and identification of land for community uses:-
    (A) Within built-up areas and
    (B) On land for possible future expansion.
  3. Identify both short term objectives (quick wins) and longer term strategic objectives for the development of this area.
  4. Map out and prepare action plans to safeguard land for development

See the report on the workshop

The Waste Management Project Extends to Three Cities

Glenn Fleet and Derek Greedy have been visiting Bo regularly over the past ten years, advising the council on waste management. Following the civil war the disposal system had stopped completely and rubbish was becoming a major problem and health hazard. From early beginnings where One World Link facilitated funding by UNDP and later the British aid programme, the project has now extended to two further cities, Makene and Kenema, working with a German NGO.

Their visit in May 2018 was a technical mission was to provide training and capacity building to field technicians and managers of the three cities everything from waste collection to disposal and the management of controlled waste sites and they provided manuals for site management. A major component was training in organic waste shredding and composting, enabling green waste to be recycled back to the land.

Rubbish collection

The shredder

Loading the shredder with green waste

Removing contaminants from green waste

Supporting a growing city: planning the future of Bo

Developing a Toolkit for Planners as Bo continues to expand dramatically.

Bo currently has a population of 175,000 people according to the latest 2015 census, but experts predict that this will grow dramatically over the next few years to as high as 583,000 by 2045.  That’s a growth of over 330% in 30 years!

OWL has linked up with Prince Charles’ “Prince’s Foundation for Building Communities” (PFBC) to help develop a toolkit for use by town planners in countries across the developing world in cities, like Bo, facing rapid urban expansion.  Although this is likely to eventually be an on-line resource, PFBC was keen to trial the toolkit by delivering the programme in person, and OWL suggested Bo as a pilot city.

Developing a planning framework for Bo as we would understand it in the UK is extremely challenging as there is no effective planning law to control land use.  Nonetheless there was real and genuine enthusiasm across both Bo City and Bo District councils to develop a vision for how Bo may grow and think about how this may be achieved.

The workshop took place on 4th and 5th December 2017 and was aimed directly at the two local councils and leading local stakeholders. Three members of UK OWL helped in preparing for the workshop. We were keen to use OWL’s profile in the city as way of encouraging support for the event.  The conference facilities at the recently upgraded OWL Centre provided an ideal venue for the event which was attended by almost 50 people over the two days.

At the workshop itself, we discussed a “vision” for Bo, agreed where major growth should (ideally) be directed and began to consider the practical infrastructure and other implications of this.  A first priority growth area is the land around the airstrip and close to the campus of Njala University to the south-west of the city, and we undertook a site visit to this area.

The morning of the second day included a stakeholder consultation meeting which 30 people attended.  The vision and emerging plans were shared and there was a full and frank exchange of views on how this work could be taken forward.

The workshop was a great success.  There was a genuine understanding of the benefits for everyone of working together to agree where and how grow will occur.

It was also great to see OWL fully involved in hosting the event.  We have committed to continue to do what we can to support this important work moving forward.

A refresh for the OWL Centre

The One World Link Centre in Bo has just benefitted from some significant investment.

The OWL Centre on Mattru Road in Bo forms the hub of OWL’s activities in the city.  Completed in 2007 it offers two conference / meeting rooms of different sizes, an office for OWL and a six-bedroom guest house.  It is where OWL members and friends visiting from the UK always stay in Bo.

The OWL Committees in both Bo and Warwick agreed that after ten years some investment was needed, both to maintain the centre and also to improve facilities it can offer.  The meeting rooms in particular are an important source of income and are well used by groups requiring meeting space in the city.

Under the management of Maada Fobay and the Bo OWL Committee, we have recently purchased; a large television (with a digital satellite subscription – particularly useful for showing educational programmes for teacher training), a data projector and screen, some moveable display boards and new curtains.  The centre has also been repainted and in the yard the concrete surface has been replaced and the murals repainted. (The one of Jane Knight now has a distinct regal look to it!) Improvements have also been made to the solar lighting. Further planned improvements include buying more chairs and tables for the meeting rooms.