Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Sierra Leone - hope at last?

For many years, Sierra Leone was a country in the grip of a vicious civil war. Fighters on both sides used cruel tactics to subdue people and reduce support for their enemies. A favoured tactic was the amputating of limbs, not just of adults, but of small children, so they could not grow up to fight.

The war raged through the country, destroying its infrastructure and economy, and as is so often the case, those who bore the brunt of the suffering were the most vulnerable members of society – women, children, families and communities who took no active part in the hostilities.

The war itself has ended now, but the aftermath continues. The country is in poverty; in 2009, in a list of 181 countries ranked by wealth by the International Monetary Fund, Sierra Leone was 174th. People are, literally, starving.

World In Need’s Sierra Leone representative, Tamba M’Bayo works among people who often do not know where their next meal is coming from. He oversees our child and family sponsorship programme. Sponsors give £20 ($29) a month and this gives a small income to a family, which means children are able to go to school, and the family are able to eat.

Tamba also oversees our feeding programme within schools. £5 ($7) a month enables a child to receive a meal every day. For some children, it is the only food they will eat. In fact, some children are so conscious that the rest of their family are starving, they will only eat half the meal they are given, then wrap the remainder up carefully to take home and share.

It is Tamba’s ambition to reach a thousand children through either sponsorship or the feeding programme. At present, he works with primary school children. He hopes to add High School aged children to the programme.

He also has plans for an agricultural project which will, eventually, make his work self sustaining.

In a country which has seen more than its fair share of suffering and hardship in recent years, projects such as these are providing hope of a better future. World In Need will continue to work with Tamba to bring more sponsors, more supporters of the feeding programme, and more hope to a people who once had none.

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