Leamington Peace Festival edition

Launch of the OWL Resource within Leamington Library

Leamington Library
Friday 4th July
6 p.m.
A miscellany of West African, Leonean and local poetry, story telling and song will be performed by various artists
Suitable for all ages.
Liquid refreshment, and nibbles. Entrance free, donations welcome
Further details from John Myers Tel: 425403 jmyers4544@aol.com

Community Choir
presents an evening of Mende and Afro-American Gospel with the Bambadinka drummers

"One Night in Bo"

Wednesday, 16th July
8 p.m.
St. Mary's Church, St. Mary's Road, Leamington Spa
£4 at the door (£3 concessions, £2 children)

Rebuilding Sierra Leone - the role of the Link

This open meeting was held on the 10th April entitled and was attended by over 30 people including several new faces. Two representatives of the Olney (Bucks) Link with Newton near Freetown came. A n officer with the Warwickshire Traffic Police who is about to go to Sierra Leone on a tour of duty with the United Nations, saw the publicity for meeting. He hopes he may get a posting to Bo.
Mrs Hawah Sumner, Counsellor and Head of Chancery attending on behalf of the High Commissioner for Sierra Leone gave the opening address. She expressed appreciation of the role that One World Link has played in relation to Bo over the years, and emphasised the importance of such links to the efforts of her nation's rebuilding process.
John Fisher, Trade Unionist and OWL Committee member who has made several trips to Sierra Leone during and since the civil war, then gave his analysis of the situation. He gave a short account of Sierra Leone's postcolonial history and pointed to the causes of the civil war in the political corruption and mismanagement that virtually bankrupted the country. He saw many signs that these causes have not been fully addressed by the current government. Mrs Sumner while not disagreeing with John's analysis defended her governments attempts to deal with the issues.
John Myers alluding to his recent experiences in visiting Bo gave an analogy of "failing schools". He said that the Government could send in a task force to turn a school around; but that school would still have to survive in difficult circumstances such as a deprived neighbourhood. If it were to succeed in the longer term then it would need good friends to support it long after the task force had moved on. Likewise OWL's role is to continue to support and befriend the people of Bo after the international community has turned its attention away to other hot spots in the world. Members of the committee then went on to outline the various ways OWL is doing this, which have been reported in this and previous newsletters. Bruce Knight described his visit to Bo to learn Mende songs with enthusiasm, and announced the date of the concert when these songs will be performed by Songlines Community Choir. There was some lively discussion.
In drawing the meeting to a close, Bill Evans thanked the participants and gave special thanks to Mrs Sumner who had to leave to catch a train back to London. He also announced that the Leamington Town and the Warwick District Councils have recently re-affirmed their links to Bo Town Council and commitment to assist civil society building in Sierra Leone.

Kayoma Women's Support Group

Janet Alty, Myf Hodkin, Caroline Green and Sarah Mate met together for the first time on 1st April to discuss how they could support Teresa Bangali's initiative with a women's group in Bo. (Teresa, who visited us in the summer of 2000, has set up a Womens' Development Association to work with widows, rape victims and other unsupported women)
Myf and Janet explained a bit about the history of OWL and how Teresa Bangali started Kayoma after her visit here in summer 2000.
They then focussed (along with a great deal of discussion!) on the Project Proposal that Teresa had drawn up, and noted her Aims and Objectives.
They decided that each of them would undertake a bit of research on different parts of the programme to establish whether and how they could help by purchasing items on the required list here and then shipping them over. It was clear that some items would be a great deal cheaper here, but there were probably also some items which could be made locally and it was very important for as much money as possible to be spent in the local economy in Bo.
Janet agreed to research the resources available for the agriculture part of the project from the local Organic Research Institute which works with farmers overseas offering advice and help both from the UK and from farmers already working in Africa.
Caroline agreed to research the prices for the gara dying implements at the local catering supply shop and possibly also the prices of dyes.
Sarah agreed to follow up a local charity that is providing computer equipment especially for women and girls seeking "to reduce prostitution, forced labour, HIV infection and disability".
Myf agreed to look into the list of items required for the gari project and see if any could possibly be provided here more cheaply.
They agreed that where possible they would communicate between meetings by phone or email and that Janet would send paper copies to the people not on email.
Janet agreed to contact Teresa by phone (if possible) and send her a copy of these notes so that she can let them know how best they can help and whether what they are proposing could be useful.
They also need to know whether Teresa has sent the Project Proposal to any local NGOs in Sierra Leone for funding.
And they¹d very much like to know why the name 'Kayoma' was chosen and if it has a Mende meaning.

Due to an ongoing strike at the Bo Government Hospital, a ten-day food ration was issued to the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society and the UNHCR to ensure cooking for Liberian refugees admitted to the hospital.

Lee Hales in Bo


Thanks to the sterling work of a volunteer from Warwick University, The majority of the 90 computers that One World Link sent out to Bo in December are now in working order and being put to educational and other
Lee Hales is a twenty-year-old second year computer systems student at Warwick. He stepped forward in the autumn of 2001 to answer an appeal for help to make sure that all the second hand computers we had been given were in good working order before they left. He volunteered again to travel to Bo during his Easter vacation to help the local One World Link Group there make the most of the gift. He said "This was my first visit to Africa or anywhere like Sierra Leone; so I was a bit apprehensive. But it turned out to be a fantastic experience, and I achieved all that I set out to do and more. The support and hospitality I received form the people of Bo and from Bo OWL was second to none."

Lee Hales with a computer class in Bo

Bo One World Link is very satisfied with the out come of Lee's visit. The computers are now being used in a community training centre, in three secondary schools, and by the staff of Bo Town Council. The Council received some recycled computers from Warwick District Council as a gift to acknowledge the importance of the community friendship link and to re-build local government and civil society in Sierra Leone. Lee was impressed that the female staff at the Council were just as eager and as adept as the men to learn about the technical side of the computers and were very ready to pick up a screw driver for hands on learning.

Mr Joe Kobba, the Chair of Bo One World Link has given the visit a ringing endorsement. He has written to say " I am very impressed by the outstanding performance of Lee during his visit. Frankly speaking, he has been able to do so much and so well within so short a time - training, installing computers, doing repairs, you name it. It is just fantastic! This is a real practical demonstration of friendship, and we are all grateful".

When Lee was asked how he had coped with the very high heat and humidity in Bo, he replied that all the work he had to do helped him to ignore it. He is now engaged in writing an assessment of his visit and of future needs and potential for co-operation. He was very pleased to learn that a member of the Bo OWL Committee has a good aptitude for computer engineering and software skills, and will be able to sustain the progress made so far.

Bill Evans, Chair of Warwick District One World Link commented "This is excellent news. I am very glad that my visit to Bo in 2001 when I was Mayor of Leamington has led on to such positive results. It was just what I hoped for." He did go on to add a note of caution. "We have to be careful that we do not become a victim of our own success. The needs in Sierra Leone are very great. According to UN statistics it is one of the world's most deprived countries; and expectations of continuing support will grow with every achievement. At least because we are a long standing friendship link we will always be there for them, long after the aid agencies have moved on to other hot spots. We do ask members of our own community, individuals, community organisations, businesses, indeed everybody, to recognise this and lend us your support. We have a major fund raising objective to build a community centre in Bo; but we also need to sustain the exchange of visits in both directions that have such positive results in education, culture, technology, and citizenship for both communities. Each visit costs a minimum of £1000. We are always looking for help with this. The British Council in Freetown contributed to Lee's costs for which we are very grateful; and West Midlands Arts contributed to the costs of the singing teacher who went to Bo over Christmas. However we always have to find at least part of the cost of every visit ourselves"


We have recently heard that the Bo-OWL Chairman, Joseph Kobba, known to many of us, has had a motorbike accident. We understand that he is not too badly hurt, but we wish him a speedy recovery.

Donation of crutches

We have had a donation of 180 elbow crutches from the Nuffield Private Hospital for Bo General Hospital and hope that this is the beginning of a new link between the two hospitals



Friendship sets herself no walls
No barriers she erects over the world.
Like a string of thread through beads
She links the hearts and minds
Of all races she finds.
She calls not her memory
To account for feelings spent
Or emotions rent.
Friendship moulds the world into one
In a way not even Fortune can.
She kisses the senses, caresses passions;
Paints the soul with truth
And brings love before the mind.
Friendship is the soul of the world

Josaya Bangali, Dec 2002


- make your mark in Africa.
We would like invite individuals to donate £10 towards the building costs of the new Community Centre in Bo that we are enabling Bo One World Link to build for the rehabilitation of the people of Bo and the reconstruction of society in the aftermath of the civil war.
In return we will write your name on one of the building blocks in the walls of the centre. This will be a way of immortalising your name in another part of the world that we are linked with in friendship. We will also have a book that records the names of donors on display in the Centre.
Please send donations to OWL Treasurer, John McFarlane, 87 Larch Walk, Yardley, Birmingham, B25 8QP

Bruce Knight and Mende music

Following Bruce Knight's musical visit to Bo (see his report in the March Newsletter), he has started making visits to schools where he has been introducing children to the Mende songs he learned out there. He has recently been to St Peter's Catholic Primary School, Leamington Spa and will soon be visiting Telford Primary School, Leamington Spa and Ferncumbe Primary School at Hatton Green. [If you want Bruce to visit your school, contact him on 770301] He has also been teaching his Community Choir "Songlines", who will be performing on July 16th (see front page for details). Be there!

80 lengths for 80 years

On July 10th Myf Hodkin, our Chairperson for many years, will celebrate her 80th birthday by swimming 80 lengths (yes, 80! - that's 2 km) of St. Nicholas' Park swimming pool, Warwick. She is inviting people to sponsor her for the benefit of Teresa Bangali's Women's Development Association (see page 2) and Hillcrest Parish near Durban in South Africa. She said "This swim is to acknowledge the love and support of family and friends in good times and bad and particularly to say 'thank you' to my friends in developing countries who have enlarged my horizons and shared their hopes and fears with me. I am so fortunate to be fit enough to enjoy regular swimming and want to use that enjoyment in a practical way." You can contact Myf on 312593.


How to send letters and materials to Bo

Put your letter or package into another envelope or wrapping and send it to

c/o 31 The Greswoldes
Radford Semele
Leamington Spa
CV31 1TP

This is a monthly service: please ensure that materials reach the
OWL POSTBOX by the last day of the month

Please ensure that:
· There is a return name and address on your letter or packet
· Letters and packets are unsealed (British Council security requirement)
· No cash or 'things' are enclosed
Your letter or packet will then be forwarded to the British Council in Freetown that has facilities for delivering to Bo Town.
They will be taken to One World Link in Bo and distributed by them. (You may be asked to pay for the cost of sending bulkier items).
Further information and/or advice can be obtained from
OWL POSTBOX: Tel: 428635 or e-mail:
A leaflet about penfriendships is also available - please ask for one.


  Newsletter produced for OWL by Brian Austin,
31 The Greswoldes, Radford Semele, Leamington SpaCV31 1TP