President Bio joins Bo schools celebrating Education Week

President Bio joins Bo schools celebrating Education Week

Schools in Bo celebrated Education Week with a march past, cultural events and performances.

The programme for the International Day of Education on 24th January 2024 was “Learning for Lasting Peace”.

President Maada Bio, speaking at the event, said “I must, on behalf of a grateful nation, praise the tireless work of educators, parents, guardians, community elders, and all the stakeholders who work to advance education in our beloved country.”

Teachers’ meeting and celebration

Teachers held a meeting at the OWL Centre in Bo to discuss plans for their collaborative work on Climate Change. Schools are focusing on UN Global Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. We hope to inspire pupils to consider re-using and recycling materials to reduce waste.

When the business meeting was finished the teachers enjoyed socialising and celebrated a colleague’s recent wedding and sang “The more we are together the merrier we shall be”. The words continue “For your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends..” which is so appropriate for One World Link which is the friendship link between our communities.

Bo Waste Management Project goes National

Bo Waste Management Project goes National

“Little things can grow into much bigger things but it might take a little while.”

Waste dump before the disposal project
Waste dump before the disposal project

Things are moving on in Sierra Leone with Undergraduate Certificate and Diploma Courses in Municipal Solid Waste Management now being offered by Fourah Bay College on behalf of the University of Sierra Leone.  The Eastern Technical University in Kenema is also offering a 1 year Certificate course and a 2 year Diploma course on Urban and Municipal Waste Management.  Who would have thought that would happen when OWL sowed those early seeds in Bo?

Furthermore, just last month (17th November), Sierra Leone held its first National Waste Management conference.  It would seem that it was well attended with good representation from Government Departments.

The waste management project was born back in 2007 when OWL persuaded the UNDP to invest in equipment to help Bo City Council to resolve their huge waste problem. The municipal waste disposal system had collapsed during the dreadful civil war in the 1990s and they were starting again from almost nothing. Facilitated by OWL, specialists from Warwickshire County Council, Glenn Fleet and Derek Greedy, provided guidance for the project. It was later taken on by the German NGO Welthungerhilfe.

Early progress with a compactor lorry
Early progress with a compactor lorry

Bo now claims to be the cleanest city in Sierra Leone. As Derek says: “Makes you feel good when you see those early efforts turning into all this. Little things can grow into much bigger things but it might take a little while.”

Ready to go! Teachers preparing to visit the UK

Five teachers from schools in Bo are preparing for their visit to the UK in June. John Sandi, Elizabeth Allie, Nemahun Vandy, Jennifer Abdulai and Patrick Columba.

They now have their travel documents and tickets and are looking forward to their two-week stay in Warwick District. They will be staying with families and have a busy schedule visiting their partner schools and having discussions with teachers. Bo schools are preparing parcels for their linked schools which the visitors will deliver. They will also join in the celebrations of the Day of the African Child when four hundred children will assemble for a programme of drumming, dancing, siinging and storytelling.

The Waste Management Project goes Nationwide

The Waste Management Project has now blossomed in to one that is Sierra Leone wide. Derek Greedy reports on the Bo project that was initiated with OWL involvement more than ten years ago.

Although Glenn Fleet and myself have not been actively involved for sometime now we are kept up to date via a WhatsApp group.  The principles that were adopted for Bo of Recycling, Composting and Landfill have generally been rolled out firstly to Makeni and Kenema and latterly to Koidu.  The work continues to be project management led by (Welthungerhilfe) WHH with Dr John Williams as the Project Head.  Much of the efforts recently have centred around Koidu and Kenema with an extensive campaign to collect plastics for recycling by offering rice for plastics. This initiative follows on from the successful campaigns in both Makeni and Bo.  Although there is not much news regarding Bo itself it seems the waste management department is still active and remains with Samuel Hinga Navo at the helm.

The Sierra Leonean Government has now recognised the success of the initiative to date and has invited WHH to work with them to form a Public Private Partnership on Waste Management at the National Level. So encouraging to see those little beginnings blossoming in this way.  Bockarie Bawoh Director of the National Monitoring and Evaluation Department (NaMED) says his dream is ” the establishment of a successful private partnership with WHH which would see Government’s Waste Management assets and infrastructure taken over by the partnership for effective management using a workable business model”.  He assured WHH that there is now the political will and commitment to see the venture through whilst recognising that this had not been the case in the past.

 Despite us not being actively involved now I think that OWL can pat itself on the back as those early efforts are now bearing fruit.

Late update: We have now heard through our WhatsApp group that WHH have met with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone at the Fourah Bay College (FBC) campus in Freetown to finalise the curriculum for a Certificate Course in Municipal Solid Waste Management. The course is expected to commence in October 2023 at FBC following approval at the University Level. OWL support has been promised.

The old Central Dump
Waste disposal before the project
Waste shredding machine
Waste shredding machine

Appreciation for 40 years of the link

Bo City Council has written to the Mayor of Leamington expressing appreciation for forty years of the link and thanks for the financial support given to the Tree Planting Programme in Bo.

Fatmata Sao wins Presidential Best Teachers Award for Bo District

Fatmata Sao

Fatmata Sao Bangali, a teacher at United Brethren in Christ Primary School (UBC) Prince Williams Street, Moriba Town Section in Bo has won the Best Presidential Teachers Award under the Pre school and Primary level in Bo District for 2022. The award was hosted at the Bintumani Conference Hall in Freetown on Tuesday, 18th October 2022.

Fatmata said she is extremely grateful to God for the achievement. She added that it all started in Bo when her name was given for the award and she went through interviews and finally she made it.

Fatmata said that she was contacted by the JSS Principal of the school, Mr. George Mambu who even summited her name and she will remain grateful to him for giving her the opportunity for her to get the enviable award. She said ” I want to dedicate this award to my late father.”

Fatmata Sao with Richard Hall
Fatmata Sao receives congratulations from Richard Hall

The UBC shcool is linked with Brookhurst School in Leamington Spa. Richard Hall, Chairman of UK One World Link, is visiting Bo and passed congratulations to Fatma on behalf of everyone in OWL UK.

Bo Schools Tree Planting Campaign

Bo Schools Tree Planting Campaign

Children in Bo have been planting trees as part of a joint campaign with their linked schools in the UK.

Bo Schools Tree Planting 2022

Day of the African Child celebrations in Bo

Day of the African Child celebrations in Bo

In Bo the Day of the African Child, 16th June 2022, took place at the OWL center on the Theme: “Eliminating harmful practices affecting children’s progress on policy and practice since 2013”.

Many dignitaries and stakeholders were invited to make statements on the theme and the tree planting project we have this year 2022 with our UK partners. we had representatives from the ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Education, and Sierra Leone Teaching Service Commission. Our Guest speaker was  Haja Alamatu Lukay, Development Planning Official, Bo City Council. They all made impressive statements. The pupils from our linked schools had skits, songs, poems and Art work in the form of poems and Drama.

At 1:00pm we joined  our UK partners in Zoom. We started with a song: Telam tenky.  This was followed by poems on both sides, skits talk, statements, and refreshment. We saw a film show  on the history of DAC and Sarafina. It was very fantastic  and colourful we all enjoyed the talents of the pupils and everyone who took part in the celebration.

Progress in our Health Link

Progress in our Health Link

It has been a challenging start for the OWL health link but we have managed to find quite a few positives from the adversity of a global pandemic.

Yemoh town lab
Yemoh Town laboratory – now able to analyse blood samples and test for malaria.

Sierra Leone responded to Covid-19 in an impressively immediate and robust way that was successful in keeping the numbers of Covid related deaths to a minimum. They are continuing to be vigilant and as a result have just been taken off the ‘red list’ for travel which means many of our friends can now travel home more freely.

Through the increased use of internet platforms such as Zoom, the UK and Bo OWL Health Link committees have been able to keep in regular contact, discussing the priorities for health care improvement in Bo and the best way to go about supporting that.

One of the main areas highlighted as potentially improving the health care facilities within Peripheral Health Units (PHU’s) was a functioning laboratory, enabling faster, more accurate diagnoses of common diseases, particularly TB, leading to correct treatment and faster recovery times. Offering this service within the PHU environment also encourages people to seek help earlier leading to more effective use of medications available, also relieving the pressure on Bo government hospital.#We were lucky enough to be in receipt of a small legacy earlier this year and, with the incredible enthusiasm and drive from one of our visiting committee members – Johannes, used it to convert the old labour room at Yemoh Town Health Clinic to a basic laboratory, enabling these tests to start taking place.

The Ambulance

We have been working with the District Health Management Team (DHMT) to try and establish government support to meet the basic running needs of the lab. This is still an ongoing process and we are looking to review the running of this facility before rolling this idea out to other PHUs that have been earmarked by the DHMT for improvement.
However, we do receive regular updates from Lansana Deen, the Chief Medical Officer at the clinic, on the use of the new labour ward facilities and this little one was one of twins!
Another encouraging report was on the continuing availability of an ambulance. Getting people to the right help at the right time can mean the difference between life and death. A baby who had to be resuscitated at birth, and continued to struggle, was transferred recently.

A newborn baby – one of the twins

Looking to the future of the OWL Health Link there are several avenues that we are looking at and discussing in more detail. The OWL ethos is based on friendship and sharing of information and skills and we are keen that the health branch should retain this. We are therefore going to be initially looking at using Zoom to deliver training sessions on topics requested by the health staff of Yemoh Town Health Clinic (and other PHU staff), Bo government hospital and Bo children’s hospital. As Helena is a midwife the first sessions will be based on dealing with obstetric and neonatal emergencies but we will be looking to expand this to other disciplines, in particular paediatrics and tropical diseases. Our UK committee has been discussing this idea of rolling out training to other relevant areas with Jayne Blacklay, from the governing board of Warwick hospital, who has been very positive about this idea.

Helena is Health Coordinator for OWL. She is a midwife with years of experience training midwives in Sierra Leone.