Church working in Sierra Leone
Members of a Berkshire Baptist church see much to hearten during a visit to partners in the West African country
A team of six people from Easthampstead Baptist Church (EBC) in Bracknell recently returned from an eight day trip to Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is in West Africa and is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has recently been ravaged by the deadly ebola virus.
EBC has been involved with partners in Sierra Leone for more than five years, since local resident and member of the church, Dr Abs Dumbuya moved to Freetown (the capital of Sierra Leone) where he had grown up as a boy. The church has regularly sent teams of people to visit the country over the last five years and on this particular visit they attended Dr Dumbuya’s wedding which was a great delight.
They also attended a graduation ceremony hosted by the Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone of students from the Dorothy Springer Trust (DST) – a UK registered charity established by Dr Dumbuya to provide high quality IT education to young people with disabilities.
More than 30 students graduated from the DST training programme. The programme is enabling disabled young people to gain employment in a country where jobs are scarce and discrimination against people with disabilities a huge problem.
The team also met the current crop of students who are studying on the DST programme including a young man called Ibrahim who up until recently had been begging on the streets of Freetown, but now thanks to DST is being trained and has a bright future.
The team also attended the opening ceremony for a new Primary school building the church has funded in a fishing community called Tombo. The school has been built in partnership with Regent Road Baptist Church (RRBC) in Freetown.
Chris Porter, senior minister at EBC was a member of the team.
'Four years ago I visited this site with others from our church and found that the local school had only an old corrugated iron shack to meet in,' he said. 'The children were being educated in filthy conditions in a hot, crowded and dirty shack with only one blackboard for over one hundred children.
'In the four years since then the church has raised around £30,000 and with our local partners in Sierra Leone has built a fantastic new building that will enable the students to transfer from the shack and receive a much higher level of schooling.' EBC has also partnered with RRBC to provide a new church building for the church in Tombo.
The team also saw six classrooms worth of school furniture that had been donated by Harmanswater Primary School and shipped out to Sierra Leone in August.
'We are so grateful to Harmanswater Primary School who gave us all these tables, chairs, whiteboards and bookshelves that will make a huge difference to the quality of education the children receive,' Chris said. 'We are also extremely grateful to local Bracknell company Kingsbury Transport who transported all the furniture to the docks in Tilbury for free.'
The team also saw a dozen boxes of books and curriculum material that had been donated by Birch Hill Primary School which will enable the school in Tombo to have a library which is virtually unheard of in primary schools in Sierra Leone.
EBC plans to continue working with their local partners in Sierra Leone to improve the standards of education for some of the poorest children and young people in the world which will enable them to be lifted out of poverty and have a bright future.