OWL NEWSLETTER - May 2004
visitors from Bo
About the Kayoma Women's Development Association in Bo, Sierra Leone
The Kayoma Women's
Development Group was started after Teresa Bangali visiting Leamington
in 2001. She returned home inspired by the work she'd seen women doing
here to support other women - particularly Maria Franchi at Bath Place
Community Venture. Then Maria went to Bo last autumn and helped Teresa
to train the women in making business plans and much more.
The Micro Credit Scheme for the Kayoma Women's Groups
NaCSA - the Sierra
Leone government department responsible for social action runs a micro
finance department. Maria Franchi, when visiting Bo last autumn, met the
Director and she was extremely impressed by their methodology and results.
NaCSA were already running a scheme in Bo and the Director suggested Maria
approach them to provide administration for Kayoma's funds, and training
we need to do as the Kayoma Women's Support Group
As Maria has written
in her report (see Newsletter, January 2004), there is a very strong sense
of responsibility among the women in Bo. Those who are fortunate strongly
believe that they must help their sisters - this is something we hope
to learn more about when Teresa visits here in June.
Jane Knight goes to Bo
Jane went out to Bo from 12th to 27th March. Originally she was going to a Commonwealth Local Government Forum meeting in Freetown to discuss the kind of support required to supplement the SL government and other donor efforts to implement strong local democracy after the local elections. She had also planned to visit Bo while over there. But the CLGF event was postponed at the last minute, so she took the opportunity to go anyway and spend the whole time in Bo. We asked her to review progress of the community centre building, and to discuss various joint issues regarding school and women's links and the forthcoming visit of Bo friends to Leamington. She writes in her report:
"I flew on March 12th 2004 and returned on the 27th after a most inspiring 2 weeks during which I watched the first floor of the One World Link community centre being "floated", I attended local election sensitisation meetings and I travelled from Freetown to Bo, to Tikonko, Blama, Kenema and back. I met MPs, Paramount and other chiefs and One World Link friends - Patrick Koroma, now Bishop of Kenema and Momodu Koroma, Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as many other old and new friends and the British Council Director Rajiv Bendre and the DFID first secretary, Ian Stewart.
"My last visit to Bo was in March 2001 with the Mayor of Leamington, Bill Evans. Before the civil war, I had visited Bo 3 times in the early 1980s. What I saw was evidence of real progress being made by the people and the government of Sierra Leone but I also felt angry and in despair at times at the constant frustration caused by lack of infrastructure - like a regular supply of electricity, piped water; decent roads and minimal resources in schools and medical centres. I felt there could be no excuse for Sierra Leoneans to be forced to live on the remains of 1940's infrastructures when most of the rest of the world has moved into the 21st century. However I must have seen at least 20 new schools in the rural areas and some noticeable road improvements had been done since 2001 .
"I hope we can use the information I gathered to strengthen our link, to focus on priorities such as the centre, income generation and youth training and to bring in new people and energy to make it all sustainable I hope the community centre will become the Hub of international partnership activities. I hope the results of the local elections will give us new partners and support for improving the lives and resources of our friends in Bo and for building a deeper understanding among the people of Warwick district of the world we are living in"
Thanks everyone for giving me this opportunity. Thanks to all the OWL committee friends in Bo, to Rajiv Bendre, to Mussa Conteh and his household for giving me such handsome hospitality and to CLGF for enabling the process."
COMMUNITY CENTRE UPDATE
The above is the view of the community centre on the day the 'floating' of the roof was to begin. Going out of Bo town centre, it stands on the left hand side of Mattru Road by the old railway line and opposite the back of Bo school. The timber poles from floor to ceiling were supporting the planks on which the concrete was to be floated and above these were iron rods around which the concrete would set. Jane Knight was there to see it all happen: In her journal she wrote wrote as follows:-
LGIB is visiting Leamington to find out how our link functions
Meanwhile, I am in Bo with longstanding friends and have just had one
of my most memorable experiences. The first floor of the community centre
was floated. 200 young men and some women gathered and were crawling like
ants all over the building. Cement was mixed, buckets were filled and
passed hand to hand up the ladders and the concrete was spread, non-stop
relentlessly in the hot sun. I have never seen anything like it. From
time to time a wave of sound emerged as the young people cheered at some
achievement or greeted someone like Theresa when she climbed onto the
Jane concludes: "This
was clearly a joint effort by us and all the friends who have put their
hard earned money into the building and the friends in Bo were doing the
work (and have also contributed their personal money). To me this is not
AID - it is JOINT ACTION for a common purpose of sharing our concerns
about global issues by building a community centre we can all benefit
Do get a copy of
Jane's full report (5 pages) available from her at:
Councillor Mota Singh will be the Mayor of Royal Leamington Spa for the next year. At his inauguration on May 15th in the Town Hall he stressed the importance of world peace and co-operation between peoples. He praised the work of One World Link and expressed the hope that he will be able to visit Bo during his year of office.
Mota Singh is also a long serving County Councillor, a well know member of the Sikh community and tireless in his work for good community relations. He will be holding an official reception for our visitors in early July.
BITS AND PIECES
Marie Thornby, who had volunteered to take on the publication of the
Newsletter, had to leave Leamington in order to look after her mother.
Is there anyone else out there who would like to do it? Please contact
Brian Austin: Tel 428635
At the time of going to press, we have Fr. Prince Charles Brainard here for a few days. He had assisted Maria Franchi while she was in Bo and he asked to come here while over on a 'business' trip. He is being accommodated at St. Peter's Church in Leamington and has taken Services there and met some of the parishioners. He is also visiting Brookhurst, St. Peter's and St. Anthony's Schools.
International Day at Aylesford
We cooperated with Aylesford School when they staged an 'International Day' on 1st April for their Year 9 students by facilitating African drumming by Sierra Leonean Jahman Aggrey and Kenyan storytelling and myths by Kipnyango Seroney studying at Warwick University. We also participated in Year 10 Assemblies to support the work they were expecting to do in promoting global aspects of citizenship.
Local Government International Bureau Visit
The LGIB paid a visit to Warwick District and had meetings with Janie Barrett, the Chief Executive of Warwick District Council, as well as other officers, councillors and members of the OWL committee, in order to introduce everyone to their new Officer, Samantha Page, whose job is to promote greater UK local government involvement in international development activities. We felt that they were favourably impressed with what we are trying to achieve here and hope that there will be long-term benefits from the visit.
make sure it arrives by the last day of the month.
|Newsletter produced for OWL by Brian Austin,
31 The Greswoldes, Radford Semele, Leamington SpaCV31 1TP