After an unforgettable experience, an IWitness group returned from Sierra Leone. You can follow their journey via their blogs during the next weeks. Read the introduction post from Issa Davies, UNICEF Sierra Leone, who accompanied them a long the way.
My name is Issa Davies, and I have been working as a communications officer at UNICEF Sierra Leone for almost six years. It was a pleasure to work with the IKEA team that recently visited some of our education projects in Sierra Leone. They found the experience really thrilling!
I served as their guide and interpreter for their week-long visit, which was mostly spent in rural areas with inadequate social amenities like good road networks, water, sanitation and electricity. In spite of all these challenges, the team remained committed and was determined to go on and see more. They saw UNICEF’s projects to give children a quality education, especially those who live in disadvantaged rural communities.
Our work with teachers who had been trained on child-centred teaching techniques and emerging issues was very encouraging to them. These are new teaching methodologies that put the child at the centre of learning. They encourage children’s active participation in class by stimulating creative thinking and discouraging the use of the cane. Our IKEA visitors were able to witness this first-hand in some schools in Port Loko District in northern Sierra Leone.
After spending a few days with schools in Port Loko District, we proceeded to the more agrarian and mountainous communities in Koinadugu District, which is in the extreme north. Yes, this is the place to be when you want to see collective groups of women actively promoting their children’s education and discouraging child marriage through mothers’ clubs. Mothers’ clubs are a UNICEF initiative that started in 2010 and have been implemented by a network of non-governmental organisations in over 2,000 communities across the country. In these clubs, mothers also engage in income-generating activities, such as farming and soap making, and the small profits help keep their communities’ children in school, refurbish schools, and give stipends to teachers who are not yet on the government’s payroll.
Of course, this cannot be achieved without the reliable partnership of Cause Canada, which implements the programme in Koinadugu District.
Our IKEA visitors reiterated that these programmes have had positive impacts on the lives of children and women. They no doubt remain committed to supporting UNICEF’s mission of helping children.
I feel very satisfied to be contributing in my own little way towards the achievement of UNICEF’S mandate of helping children and women.
Everywhere we visited, communities definitely want a brighter future for their children.
They have all made us proud!