June 14-26 2018
What an incredible time the 6 of us (Mr Morrisey, Ms Coleman, Ms Buckley, Mr Maltby, my husband and myself) from Coldfall have had in Sierra Leone. It is hard to put into words the impact of all we have learned, but we come back home and to school feeling not just a great sense of privilege, but feeling humbled at the hospitality and love we have been shown as well as the appreciation of our small contribution to teaching the students and children. We are so rich in comparison to these lovely people, who have so little and yet share everything they do have. For them having an education, which we often take for granted, is the most important thing and they are so eager to learn and to be able to develop their lives and take some control of their futures. We met so many students and children with the most distressing of stories to tell, through from having been recruited as child soldiers in the civil war, to losing members of their family in the landslide or to disease through lack of medical facilities. We really have nothing to complain about in England!
One thing that was really striking was the sense of community amongst staff and children. They help and support each other in everything they do. The first sounds in the early morning at 6.00am after the cockerels have crowed their awakening cries, is the children starting on their daily chores – sweeping, filling their buckets with water from the well, washing their clothes and preparing food for breakfast. They were often heard singing, clapping and chanting as they work together. At meal times food is shared amongst large basin sized bowls and the children crowd around together eating their sticky rice and fish or bean sauce. It is the same meal each day for lunch and dinner, with slight variation in the sauce….breakfast is a spicy cassava type grated grain, again shared into large bowls for everyone to take handfuls to eat sitting together.
The children share their living quarters with up to 40+ boys or girls in a dormitory with bunk beds and small wooden boxes where they store the few clothes and belonging they might have. Children are put into mixed age and gender “family groups” with a family learning lead who ensures the children live and work together happily, reading them a bedtime story at night time, and leading a daily discussion session with them first thing after the morning assembly at 9.30am, much like a circle time session. It provides the opportunity to reinforce their values, share any problems and enable children to talk about any concerns. Every child is encouraged to have a voice, something not widely practiced in Sierra Leone, where the education is still based on very traditional methods, that’s if children have an education at all!
The Coldfall 6, as we became know, taught lessons to the first set of EducAid degree students, on their BAM (Business Administration and Management) degree linked to Makeni University. We also ran a sports day in the primary school and a maths fair in the secondary school. In between our teaching schedule we were able to spend some time in the primary school with the children and teachers, visit Freetown, and one of the stunning local beaches.
The teaching conditions are so different to ours, with no resources apart from the blackboard and chalk. Students sit on wooden benches around wooden tables with scant paper and a pen…we brought many resources with us and they were so happy to receive just the simple basic materials we take or granted. Electricity is only on for a few hours in the evening so the rooms are dark most of the time even during day light hours. The rains when they come are torrential and with the tin roofs, create the most amazing thunderous sounds completely drowning out any teaching going on, often for up to an hour or more…yet the students take it all in their stride!
Finally a few words about the pants everyone so generously collected and brought into school. We distributed 2 pairs to each of the children in the primary school – the smiles and cries of excitement brought tears to our eyes…such a small gift making such a big difference. There were enough to share out also amongst the 3 secondary schools and some of the staff…so thank you everyone who brought these into Coldfall!
So now back at Coldfall we are very keen to share all that we have learnt with our children here and continue our work with EducAid. We are of course hoping that in our absence everyone has been getting their sponsors and running the Coldfall marathon challenge…please keep supporting your children to do this! We will be having a very special assembly on July 9th to show all the children photos and videos of our time in Sierra Leone and sharing with them some of the wonderful aspects of their lives lived in community. We are also planning a joint project for the next academic year linked to our values and based on developing the 9 habits of empathy. There is a great book called “Unselfie” by Michelle Borba, which we will be using to help us develop this project and some of you may be interested to read it.
Miriam is the most remarkable lady who has truly helped to transform the lives of hundreds of children through her work in EducAid. EducAid however needs more volunteers and particularly now to help with teaching the degree students on the BAM course…..if any parents feel they could spend 2 weeks in Sierra Leone and have expertise in one of the following remaining BAM modules (see below *) which need to be developed and taught, I would be delighted to meet with you and talk you through what is involved.
“Those to whom much is given, much is expected…” as the saying goes so we cannot sit back here in Muswell Hill, London, when we have so much we can do and offer…..I hope you will all continue to give us your support in developing the citizenship and character building learning of your children and in supporting our work with Educaid….it means so much.
Thank you very much
* Business Statistics, Salesmanship & Sales Management, Business Finance, Financial Management, Quantitative Techniques, Business Ethics & CSR, Introduction to Micro-finance, International Business & Trade, Financial Systems, Development Economics, Auditing and life assurance, E-commerce & Online Banking, Customer Service Management, Cost &,Management Accounting, Procurement, Logistics & Supply Chain Management, Risk Management, Company law, Risk management, Managerial economics)
To see pictures from the visit please go to the Photo Gallery Page on the website: http://www.coldfall.haringey.sch.uk/?page_id=18