Thank you Leamington! Pantomime-goers donate over £9,000 to OWL

Thank you Leamington! Pantomime-goers donate over £9,000 to OWL

Pantomime crowds were in generous mood as they encountered One World Link volunteers with collecting donations. They donated some £9,000 at the thirty seven performances of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Leamington Spa Centre.

OWL volunteers, wearing blue tabards and holding buckets decorated by school children, stood in the gangways and collected money from the audience as they left. In addition to allowing us to collect these donations, Warwick District Council donated over £700 from the sale of tickets to an invited audience, taking the grand total to £9,571. We are very grateful to them, the Spa Centre and the cast.

This income is particularly welcome in view of our programme for the coming year, including the Day of the Africa Child in June and possible exchange visits by teachers.

One World Link AGM – 27th January

Members and Friends are invited to our AGM on the 27th January 2024 at St Paul’s church hall, Leicester St, Leamington Spa. We do look forward to meeting as many members and friends as possible in person at this event. The meeting will start at 2.00pm

We will aim to keep the formal part of the meeting to a minimum and then review both recent activities and also look back at 40+ years of the friendship link.

For more information please contact

Prof Nancy Edwards to talk in Leamington on 20th October – All invited

Prof Nancy Edwards to talk in Leamington

Nancy Edwards is coming to St Paul’s Church, Leamington on Friday, 20th October at 7pm to tell us about her experiences with the title “Improving Community Health Care in Low Income Countries”. All members and friends of OWL – and any others interested – are invited. Please email

Nancy Edwards is a nurse and epidemiologist who worked in the field of global health and development for forty years. She is a Distinguished Professor and Professor Emerita at the University of Ottawa and the recipient of numerous awards including three honorary doctoral degrees. 

She lived in the Sierra Leone for five years, two of them based in Bo where she worked with the Bo-Pujehun Rural Integrated Development Program. One of her collaborators there was Dr. David Moinina Senge who is now the country’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education. Prof Edwards is the author of Not One, Not Even One: A Memoir of Life-altering Experiences in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Her stories of village life convey the ravages of tuberculosis, threats of witchcraft and tragedies of deaths related to pregnancy, childbirth and newborn tetanus. She celebrates local advocates for health improvements — mothers, traditional birth attendants and village health committees. 

Teachers’ visit to UK boosts school links

Teachers’ visit to UK boosts school links

We were thrilled and somewhat amazed when five Bo OWL members got their visas first time! This was thanks to an OWL friend in Freetown – Michael Dennis (previously British Council) – without whose help we’d have never negotiated the whole, complex and costly visa process.

Our visitors enjoyed the hospitality of seven new host families who had offered through the network of Leamington and Warwick schools. Over the years, many OWL members have become interested in the link through offering to host and we hope this is to continue with many new friendships forged this year. A programme of school visits, meetings and experiences was organised to enable the team to learn about British education and culture as well as some of the issues we have in common such as Climate change. Sight-seeing in London, Birmingham and Coventry plus Fish & Chips, Ten Pin Bowling and a Curry at the Himalaya restaurant were all part of a packed itinerary.

Jennifer Abulai, Columba Sherriff, Nemahun Vandy and Elizabeth Allie all spent time getting to know their link schools – attending assemblies, observing lessons and joining staff-room discussions, as well as visiting other linked schools where they shared stories about life in Sierra Leone and learnt about our curriculum and methods.

Also among the team was Teachers’ Coordinator John Sandi who is now helping with the management of the OWL Centre in Bo – amongst visiting many schools John was able to spend time in discussion with the UK committee, visit Campion Secondary School and JBC Skills Training, a computer business in Coventry (who have given desk-top computers to Bo OWL).

The visit culminated with the annual Day of the African Child event where the visiting team, dressed in their beautiful, matching ‘ashobi’ surprised us with a special song they had prepared for the Finale Assembly which sang of us working together in friendship while naming every school. See the pictures of the event. We certainly hope and expect that this visit serves to strengthen the bonds which had suffered through the dry years of covid. We recognise that OWL partnerships are really very unique in offering these face-to-face opportunities – we look forward to working with strengthened links where friends on both sides are able to play their part in building understanding and support.

200 Trees Planted in School Campaign

200 Trees Planted in School Campaign

Children in local primary schools including Brookhurst (Leamington), All Saints’ Juniors (Warwick), St Margaret’s and St Joseph’s (Whitnash) have planted trees as part of a joint Climate Action project with their One World Link partner schools in Bo, Sierra Leone.

One World Link was delighted when Leamington Town Council agreed to sponsor tree planting in Bo as its way of marking 40 years of friendship between the two areas.  Since then, over 200 trees have been planted in total – some at each of the link schools and some on community land owned by OWL in Bo.

The children’s’ project work focused on the importance of trees for a sustainable future. Pupils were inspired by the work of Wangari Maarthi, Kenyan environmentalist and activist, reading a book about her life – Trees of Peace. They also learnt about the Mayor of the capital Freetown whose ambition is to plant 1,000,000 trees over two years reversing some of the damage caused by deforestation and landslides – Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr’s aim is to turn Freetown into a Treetown!

Liz Garrett, OWL schools’ coordinator and teacher said, “Children are passionate about protecting wildlife and nature and have been so enthusiastic about tree planting. One boy even donated the sycamore sapling he’d grown from seed during lockdown – it’s now growing on our field! One World Link has always had strong support from Leamington Town Council, and we are both delighted and very grateful that it has chosen to support this project as part of its way of marking our 40 years of friendship with Bo.”

The Mayor of Royal Leamington Spa, Cllr Nick Wilkins, said: “Leamington Town Council were delighted to actively support and sponsor tree planting in Bo in Sierra Leone.  We have worked with our colleagues in One World Link planting trees in some of our Leamington primary schools too as part of a joint Climate Action project. Engaging with children around the globe could not come at a more critical time with climate change on the rise.   We are proud of our links with Bo, and our planting projects is just one, that has bound us in friendship for 40 years.”

See also the tree planting campaign in Bo

Read the press release

Health Visit to Bo – the first since Covid

This was our first visit back to Bo since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. It was an incredibly positive trip with many productive meetings and new contacts made. Richard Hall and Helena White from the OWL UK health team were accompanied by a midwifery colleague, Zoe Milburn.

We identified a number of prospects for future collaboration:

  • We understand that 15 of the small Peripheral Health Units have been identified for upgrading to provide at least basic maternity care and we have offered support with this in terms of training and supporting the staff working in these remote units.
  • CARE International who are a large charity tackling the underlying causes of poverty and social injustices while supporting ways of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the universal right to health care. We are hoping to work in partnership with them in the future within the framework of their health worker training programmes.
  • Linking Bo Government Hospital (BGH) with South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust hospital. This would be an educational link, supporting local staff to improve their skills in a variety of disciplines.

We delivered our basic training package to the staff of Yemoh Town Health Centre – this time focusing primarily on the use of the partograph, a specific form used during labour that will easily highlight the need for referral to a tertiary unit, and Neo natal resuscitation. We also provided training in estimating blood loss during childbirth (using home-made ‘blood’ and handed over two emergency paramedic backpacks full of essential supplies.

One World Link is based on long and firm friendships and this visit was particularly heart-warming as we all felt we had been through a bit of an ordeal with the pandemic and were so pleased to be back amongst such warm and welcoming friends. We hope to visit again in January.

Click here to Read Helena’s full report

First visit to Bo in nearly 3 years: Health, Schools, Youth and the Council

First visit to Bo in nearly 3 years: Health, Schools, Youth and the Council

This was the first visit to Bo for more that two-and-a-half years; between 19th and 28th October 2022 Helena White, her son William, Zoe Milburn and Richard Hall finally made the first visit since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. See Richard’s full report here. and press release here

Helena was there to build on her Midwifery links and introduced Zoe, a fellow Midwife, to life in Bo.  They also conducted training sessions at the OWL Centre and at Yemoh Town Clinic. An important objective of the visit was to explore the potential for expanding the health link beyond Midwifery. We are hopeful of making progress with what is a very complicated project to put together, but one which has huge potential benefits for Bo and here. Another friend of OWL in Bo is now Dean of Community Health at Njala University, Rashid Ansumana. There may be potential for joint working, perhaps linking to the Health project.

St Peters Bo No2 Schooll, linked with Brookhurst
St Peters Bo No2 School, linked with Brookhurst

The purpose of the visit for Richard was to meet with Bo OWL members again in person. To understand their current issues and to re-connect with as many other organisations as time allowed. With the Teacher visit programme on temporary hold, Richard was able to stand in for a Teachers’ Group meeting and visit 8 schools. The tree-planting project had gone ahead and schools were keen to show what had been done.

Richard Hall with Bo City  Deputy Mayor
Richard Hall with the Deputy Mayor of Bo City Council, Haja Lukay, The Chief Administrator, Veronica Fortune and Wusu Sannoh

During the visit Richard had a meeting with the Chief Administrator and the Deputy Mayor of Bo City. The long-established links between Bo City Council and OWL and with Leamington Spa Town Council were fully recognised and Richard returned with an official letter from the city council commemorating the 40 years of friendship between the LSTC and BCC. They also thanked LSTC for the donation towards tree-planting in their area.

Bo Youth Group
Bo Youth Group

There have been communications with a group of younger people in Bo for some time looking at the prospect of re-establishing a ‘youth group’.  There is real potential for an exciting IT training project, led by the group.

In conclusion it was a busy time, generating lots of ideas and potential to follow up, and was very enjoyable, but in making a visit we must recognise the burden that it places on our friends in Bo OWL. So thank you to those who facilitated the visit and to all our friends in Bo OWL. We look forward to welcoming some of them over here in the not too distant future.

The Day of the African Child – a virtual celebration

The Day of the African Child – a virtual celebration

Schools from across Warwick District and in Bo met online to celebrate the International Day of the African Child, 2021

The ‘Day of the African Child’ is an international event, celebrated every year on 16th June, to raise awareness of the continuing need to promote children’s rights and to improve education to African children. One World Link has been celebrating this event with schoolchildren across Warwick District since 2009. Usually, we arrange a large day-long celebration involving over 500 local children. 2020 and 2021 were – by necessity – a little different. Since the Corona virus prevented us from getting together to celebrate this day, schools in Bo and the UK met up in Zoom meetings.
For the second year running we had to adapt our plans for celebrating our links and promoting Education for All. There has been no need for a marquee for two years and much disappointment from the lack of physical celebrating.

DAV 2021 zoom call
The online call bringing schools together

However, perhaps learning from our Bo colleagues’ need to be always resourceful and positive, we planned a Zoom Event with surprising success! It is actually quite easy to note the advantages:
We were able to ‘meet’ our MP at a convenient time for him, despite last minute changes for us- we saw him at 9.15 instead of 2.30 as originally planned! We hosted many other OWL, British Council and Send My Friend guests without any travel miles, important when our theme is about reducing our impact on the environment (UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action). Teachers were able to choose which parts of the day to take part in; some did the whole day with virtual singing, drumming and dance workshops, others came to just the campaign assembly. We possibly doubled/tripled our reach to over 1000 children participating from their classrooms, since this was open to the whole school. Most importantly, our children in Bo were able to participate for the first time, sharing wonderful poetry performance and drama skits.

Sharing a classroom 3000 miles apart
Sharing a classroom 3000 miles apart

Pupils at St Joseph’s Primary, Leamington engaged their virtual audience, including Matt Western MP when describing this years Send My Friend campaign. Here is their summary:
Our task for the campaign is to think about all the challenges children face that prevent them accessing education and then think about what your ideal school of the future would need.
Some examples we have considered are:
• solar water pumps to prevent dehydration,
• well trained teachers that are able to teach the many needs within a class,
• adults educated in equality to make sure no-one is left out,
• enough resources including stationery and technology
• trained health professionals in school to help with physical and mental health,
• free medical supplies such as sanitary towels to help all feel comfortable,
• barriers around schools to prevent dangers from outside
• schools that are kept safe from flooding
• and a germ force field to kill all illness so schools never have to close again.

All of these ideas require one thing – MONEY! Therefore, we are urging our Government to increase our aid to education and encourage other nations to spend more, much more, on global aid.
We would like to ask our MP to ensure that our Government will do what it has promised in terms of funding education around the world – ensuring that all children can receive a quality education.
OWL education is continuing to develop Global Citizens for the future.

Update on OWL in the UK and Bo at the AGM

OWL 2020-21 AGM

Despite the continuing restrictions on our activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a great deal of activitiy in both Bo and the UK. In Bo, the OWL Centre has been fitted with solar panels and has been redecorated. Schools in both Warwick District and Bo have embarked on tree planting and joined online to celebrate the Day of the African Child. Teachers’ visits have had to be suspended and we are hoping that they can be resumed in the coming year. Meanwhile there have been further developments on the health link and, at local government level, on urban planning and waste disposal. See the minutes of the AGM for full details

OWL’s History – in the County Archives

OWL’s History – in the County Archives

Over 40 years of records going back to our origins have recently been stored at the Warwickshire County record Office. Details of events, campaigns, visits and a variety of other activities related to the work of One World Link are now available for the general public to access. Jane Knight explains.

As time leaps forward, year by year, I have been increasingly aware of OWL’s long history building up especially as it passes its 40th Anniversary. With that history are all the records of its progress.

Because of Lockdown, I spent more than normal time taking part in Zoom sessions with old friends and colleagues around the world. They raised quite a lot of concern about what happens to all our experiences and records once we are gone? There is always the dread that they will end up on someone’s bonfire at the end of a garden.

Sorting OWL's historical papers
Sorting OWL’s historical papers

I have no spare space to spread out where I live, and the pressure on me to do something about preserving OWL’s archives was mounting. Where to sort? and would anyone want the piles of documents etc. anyway?

By good fortune, my son James who knows OWL well, was willing to let me use his large garden shed which is furnished with shelves and a table tennis table. As his family are moving on, he handed it to me and members of the OWL committee to use as a temporary workspace.

And so on October 6th, Paul Atkins, Kip Warr and myself delivered 2 big boxes of newsletters, press releases, reports and photos all dating back to 1981, to the Warwickshire County Records office.

It was a great relief after we started, to find that WCC were actually interested in what we were doing and they welcomed the materials with enthusiasm. We just hope they will be used in the future.

We came across many letters sent through the years from key friends in Bo.
A special feature is the ‘War file’ which contains personal experiences of the Sierra Leone Civil War in the 1990s. They were related to us in hasty phone calls made from Bo and Freetown by teachers and friends. Bishop Koroma (then Father) told stories of near escapes when he was expected to, and trying to get teacher’s pay out to all the Catholic schools while the war was going on.

One of the file’s contents was a letter from Johannes Mallah senior (later Chair of Bo OWL), recounting in detail his terrifying experiences being ambushed by rebels on the way to a meeting in Kenema.

Delivering OWL records to the Records Office
Delivering OWL records to the Records Office

It was a fascinating experience working out suitable categories for sorting, and reading and sifting through a huge variety materials which capture the exciting progress of One World Link in the Bo and Warwick Districts.

There are accounts of exchange visits, across wide sectors of the communities from councils to teachers and midwives which led to strong friendships and practical benefits for 40 years. The partnerships and cultural exchanges, based on principles of equality, have changed the lives of many of us, here and in Sierra Leone.

Remaining in the shed, are records of many of OWL’s contributions to the UKOWLA (UK One World Linking Association) conferences and campaigns to spread the linking idea across the UK and there are records of more Global activities (Towns & Development) to promote linking and local government and local community cooperation for development in the South and across Europe. I am still hoping to lodge this small collection somewhere for posterity. So do contact OWL if you know of any possibilities?

Jane Knight is the founder of One World Link