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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 Fobay. 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)
Keeping our friendship with Sierra Leone alive: International “Day of the African Child” celebrations in Warwick district go virtual
Teachers from across Warwick District recently met online with teachers in Bo, Sierra Leone to celebrate the International Day of the African Child.
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. Leamington-based charity One World Link has been leading in celebrating this event with schoolchildren across Warwick District since 2009. Usually, we arrange a large day-long celebration involving over 500 local children. This year has – by necessity – been a little different.
Since the Coronavirus prevents us from getting together to celebrate this day, teachers and other OWL members in Bo and the UK met up in a Zoom meeting, the first time this has ever been done. The celebration started with the song ‘Tel am tenki’ and a video of recent teacher visits to Bo and the UK.
Bo OWL have been working with the authorities on the theme of ‘Access to Child Friendly Justice’, particularly for children in overcrowded remand homes. Their programme includes education and advocacy but their immediate ambition is to have children who have committed minor crimes released on this special day.
In the UK the theme has been the ‘Send My Friend to School’ campaign with emphasis on climate change. In a development of the successful Ecobricks projects, schools will experiment with cob mortar which is very much more friendly to the environment than cement.
Before closing the meeting with the song ‘You are my Brother’ we were treated to a recitation of the poem ‘I am an African Child’ (Eku McGred) performed by 12 year old Francess from Bo; a moving end to a remarkable celebration.
Organiser Liz Garrett commented:-
“We’ve celebrated our school links on 16th June every year since 2009, so it seemed right to adapt our usual plans and try meeting on Zoom this year.
In Sierra Leone, even more than in the UK, teachers have found it challenging to support classes during the pandemic. Teachers in Bo have been unable to continue teaching their classes because not enough children have access to computers or radios. Some of the children have been out on the streets selling goods to supplement the family budget.
“Despite the technology challenges in Bo, it worked and we were thrilled to be able to share time, stories and experiences with our teacher friends in Bo!”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
One World Link (OWL) promotes friendships between two communities across the world: those of Bo District in Sierra Leone and Warwick District in the UK. The link that has been running between these two communities since 1981 is inspired by a desire for justice, equality, human understanding and mutual support. Over the years it has helped to strengthen both communities and their awareness of global and development issues. At this time when ‘Black Lives Matter’ has major international attention, it is important to note that this message has been at the core of what OWL is all about.
The link has been maintained for nearly 40 years through a number of activities including exchange visits, cultural events, links made between schools and other organisations in the two communities, parties and social gatherings, pen friendships and regular shipments of school supplies and other goods to Bo.
16th June was the ‘Day of the African Child’ and we have, in the past, celebrated this annual event together in both communities with 15 Primary schools from Warwick District and 15 from Bo, taking part in parades and cultural activities. This year was, inevitably different with all parties affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. However, through a shaky Zoom link, our warmth and enthusiasm for each other was shared through song, discussion of our relative problems of implementing the curriculum in these challenging times and a heartfelt rendition of ‘I am an African Child’ by one of their pupils, at a safe distance. It was a great example of how two nations of differing cultures and economic statuses can come together to celebrate a shared humanity. If you would like any further information about our work please contact me or visit our website oneworldlink.org.uk
Strictly Necessary Cookies
We suggest that you enable these.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
3rd Party Cookies
This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.
Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!