UK Teachers visit Bo, Feb 2020

Four UK teachers visited Bo in February 2020. Their busy schedule included both professional development and a deepening of friendships. They visited all 15 linked schools and saw lots of improvements. They were even interviewed on radio. The whole visit was ably co-ordinated by the Bo OWL Teachers Committee.

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

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.
Alpha Bah took them to his own community on the outskirts of Bo, Ngeybayama, where there they were met with a full community reception. Sadly, Alpha died soon after.

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.

2020

January – Health Link & Planning visit to Bo
February – AGM for 2019, Teachers visit Bo
Restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with lockdowns in the UK and Sierra Leone, prevented face-to-face meetings and visits from March to December

January – Health Link and Planning Visit to Bo

February – AGM for 2019, Teachers visit Bo

Restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with lockdowns in the UK and Sierra Leone, prevented face-to-face meetings and visits from March to December

Newsletter January 2020

January 2020

  • Tribute to the late Maada Fobay, Chairman of Bo OWL
  • Four teachers from Bo visit the UK under the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms scheme
  • Visit to Bo by UK OWL Chairman , Richard Hall, Phil Clarke, WDC planner, and midwife, Helena White.
  • One World Link’s work with Bo City Council was “Highly Commended” by the Commonwealth Association of Planners in its 2019 Awards for Outstanding Planning Achievement

Tribute to Alfred Maada Fobay

We are very sad to report the death of Alfred Maada Fobay, Chairman of Bo One World Link.
The shock of Maada’s death hit his family and community in Bo with a huge impact of sorrow and loss. The energy he put into the development of OWL made that loss all the more poignantly felt by his many friends in Warwick and Leamington in the UK, who knew him and admired him so much.

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

June 2019 – a Month to Remember

In June 2019 we welcomed four teachers from Bo; John Sandi, Lucy Amara, Kula Fangawa and Francis Jusu. This was the second part of a British Council funded Connecting Classrooms project. For some of us it was like welcoming old friends, for others the excitement of having a ‘real person’ from Bo in their classrooms, where pupils had been learning about life in Sierra Leone.
The highlight of their visit for us was bringing together 550 children for the Day of the African Child, this year our 10th Anniversary. As usual the children were treated to six workshops throughout the action-packed day and saw the fruits of their labours as their ecobricks were made into a planter.

Bo teachers visit UK and join the Day of the African Child

In June 2019 we welcomed four teachers from Bo; John Sandi, Lucy Amara, Kula Fangawa and Francis Jusu. This was the second part of a British Council funded Connecting Classrooms project. For some of us it was like welcoming old friends, for others the excitement of having a ‘real person’ from Bo in their classrooms, where pupils had been learning about life in Sierra Leone, but now met with that life, face-to-face. Staff and pupils exchanged details about what they had been learning around Global Goal 13: Climate Action and about recycling and reusing waste. Ecobricking had very much become a feature of school life both here and in Bo, thanks to our project.

As well as visiting all 15 of our link schools in Warwick District, the four experienced as much of UK life as we could possibly fit into their three week visit; a trip to the RSC to see The Taming of the Shrew, visits to big cities Birmingham, Coventry and London, time with a foodbank in Leamington learning that not all of the west is affluent, an evening with Songlines Community Choir, spectating county athletics, fun at Ten Pin bowling and meals in many different friends’ homes. Sharing all this was an absolute pleasure for all involved and many of us have cemented professional friendships for life.

The highlight of their visit for us was bringing together 550 children for the Day of the African Child, this year our 10th Anniversary. As usual the children were treated to six workshops throughout the action-packed day.

Our four visitors told West African stories and ran Q&A sessions. Kwame from African Activities helped pupils produce printed fabric using Adinkra Symbols. Children burnt off some energy with dancing, learning an African playground game (Boys Norty) and drumming. Finally, in the huge marquee pupils sung their hearts out and danced to songs such as ‘Tem am tenki’ and ‘You are my brother.’

During the lunch break we fitted in a skype call with Bo where, despite technical problems, we could see lots of Bo school children gathered together at the OWL centre. We then paraded round the field with our banners and flags to the sounds of drumming.

We were delighted to welcome many VIPs, including Hayley Coyne and Mike McPaul from the British Council and Hannah Dixon, the Send My Friend to School campaigns manager. Others were: Bishop John of Warwick, April Gold representing the DBE, Chair of WDC Cllr George Illingworth, Deputy Mayor of Leamington Cllr Susan Rasmussen, Mayor of Warwick Cllr Neale Murphy and John Holland representing our MP Matt Western. They all spoke very highly of the children’s hard work in campaigning on important issues like the environment and children’s right to education – messages which came across powerfully in two pupil-led speeches in the Finale.

The day left no doubt in anyone’s minds that the school partnerships we sustain through OWL do a very powerful job in developing global citizens who care about each other and their planet.

OWL is very grateful to Leamington Town Council and the British Council, without whose funding these events would not have been possible.

Report by Liz Garrett

Day of the African Child - Final Session
Day of the African Child – Final Session

International award for OWL planners

One World Link has been recognised in a major international award for town planning work as “a model for others to follow”.
One World Link’s work was “Highly Commended” by the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) in its 2019 Awards for Outstanding Planning Achievement in the Commonwealth announced in Ghana on Saturday 9th November.  Entries for this award were received from around the world but One World Link was the only UK entry to be even shortlisted.

One World Link has been recognised in a major international award for town planning work as “a model for others to follow”.

One World Link’s work was “Highly Commended” by the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) in its 2019 Awards for Outstanding Planning Achievement in the Commonwealth announced in Ghana on Saturday 9th November.  Entries for this award were received from around the world but One World Link was the only UK entry to be even shortlisted.

One World Link, the friendship link between Warwick District and the city of Bo in Sierra Leone, has been working with Bo City Council for several years to develop a plan to guide the growth of the city.  Town planners from Warwick and Leamington teamed up with Prince Charles’ Prince’s Foundation and planning consultants Turley to deliver training and support for colleagues in Sierra Leone and have run several joint training workshops to help develop a plan for the city.  

Philip Clarke from One World Link said: “It is a great honour for our work to be recognised in this way.  Bo is currently a city of 175,000 people but, like many middle-sized African cities, is likely to grow massively in the next few years to three times this size by 2045.  Sierra Leone does not have an effective planning system, so developing any type of meaningful plan for the city is challenging to say the least.  We were, however, hugely encouraged by the way that local people in Bo, with no planning training, embraced the ideas behind developing their own plan.  It was really important that the ideas for how Bo should grow should come from them.  Hopefully the recognition from this award will give them further encouragement to take this important work forward.”

One World Link will be travelling to Sierra Leone in January to undertake further training and continue to support this work.

Clive Harridge, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Association of Planners and a Warwickshire resident, presented the Award to Philip Clarke and John Archer at the Town Hall, Leamington Spa and said:

The Commonwealth Association of Planners Awards champion the very best of planning from across the Commonwealth. The Award winners were selected by an eminent independent panel of judges and I am hugely delighted that the work One World Link and its partners have been undertaking in Bo has been Highly Commended.  It was a real privilege for me to present the Award in person to Philip Clarke and John Archer.  The planning work in Bo which is ongoing is of the highest standard and is being used as a model for others to follow across the Commonwealth.”

The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) represents over 40,000 town planners from 28 countries throughout the Commonwealth.  The annual CAP Awards for Outstanding Planning Achievement in the Commonwealth champion the very best examples of planning practice in the Commonwealth.   

One World Link’s work was “Highly Commended” by the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) in its 2019 Awards for Outstanding Planning Achievement in the Commonwealth announced in Ghana on Saturday 9th November.  Entries for this award were received from around the world but One World Link was the only UK entry to be even shortlisted.

The photos above show:
– Members of One World Link together with councillors and officers of Bo City Council at the end of the Planning workshop
– Clive Harridge (Secretary-General, Commonwealth Association of Planners and Warwickshire resident) presents the Award certificate to John Archer and Philip Clarke from One World Link at the Town Hall, Leamington Spa.
– Prince Charles with Tom Perry (Prince’s Foundation) and John Archer and Philip Clarke (One World Link) discussing One World Link’s work in Bo

One World Link, the friendship link between Warwick District and the city of Bo in Sierra Leone, has been working with Bo City Council for several years to develop a plan to guide the growth of the city.  Town planners from Warwick and Leamington teamed up with Prince Charles’ Prince’s Foundation and planning consultants Turley to deliver training and support for colleagues in Sierra Leone and have run several joint training workshops to help develop a plan for the city.  

Philip Clarke from One World Link said: “It is a great honour for our work to be recognised in this way.  Bo is currently a city of 175,000 people but, like many middle-sized African cities, is likely to grow massively in the next few years to three times this size by 2045.  Sierra Leone does not have an effective planning system, so developing any type of meaningful plan for the city is challenging to say the least.  We were, however, hugely encouraged by the way that local people in Bo, with no planning training, embraced the ideas behind developing their own plan.  It was really important that the ideas for how Bo should grow should come from them.  Hopefully the recognition from this award will give them further encouragement to take this important work forward.”

One World Link will be travelling to Sierra Leone in January to undertake further training and continue to support this work.

Clive Harridge, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Association of Planners and a Warwickshire resident, presented the Award to Philip Clarke and John Archer at the Town Hall, Leamington Spa and said:

The Commonwealth Association of Planners Awards champion the very best of planning from across the Commonwealth. The Award winners were selected by an eminent independent panel of judges and I am hugely delighted that the work One World Link and its partners have been undertaking in Bo has been Highly Commended.  It was a real privilege for me to present the Award in person to Philip Clarke and John Archer.  The planning work in Bo which is ongoing is of the highest standard and is being used as a model for others to follow across the Commonwealth.”

The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) represents over 40,000 town planners from 28 countries throughout the Commonwealth.  The annual CAP Awards for Outstanding Planning Achievement in the Commonwealth champion the very best examples of planning practice in the Commonwealth.   

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. It is estimated that some 900 plastic bottles filled with 150kg of plastic waste have gone into the construction. Ecobricks are made by stuffing used plastic bottles tightly with plastic waste that cannot be recycled.

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.

Local teachers connecting classrooms with Bo

In February 2019, three teachers from local primary schools took part in a Connecting Classrooms schools exchange programme, visiting and teaching in their linked schools in Bo.
The theme for project work was based around one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Climate Action and they ran a series of workshops focusing on ‘Critical Thinking and Problem Solving’,

Local teachers connecting classrooms with Bo

In February 2019, three teachers from local primary schools, Maureen Greyson of All Saints, Leek Wootton, Louise Letchford of Emscote Infants, Warwick and Helen Newbold of St. Paul’s, Leamington took part in a Connecting Classrooms schools exchange programme, visiting and teaching in their linked schools in Bo.  The team were accompanied by Paul Atkins from the OWL committee.

Although Maureen had considerable experience working in Africa, this was a first time for the other two. It was a challenging experience, working in class sizes of up to 100, in excessive heat and without any of the modern facilities that they are used to. However, this was offset by the welcome and support from their host schools and our long-established friends in Bo. The teachers also ran a series of workshops focusing on ‘Critical Thinking and Problem Solving’, one of the core skills being championed by the British Council who helped fund the trip.

Our theme for the project work was based around one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Climate Action and the workshop looked at ways in which plastic can be reduced and spreading this message to teachers and pupils in the schools in Bo. In addition, a field trip was organised involving two pupils and one teacher from each of the partner schools and they visited a variety of waste management and recycling sites in Bo.

They also managed to see something of the country, visiting a rural community that was the home to our, then chairman, Maada Fobay, where they were welcomed in a most overwhelming manner. For the teachers, this was a life enhancing experience that will have a profound effect on both their personal and professional lives.