Between March 2014 and March 2016, Ebola claimed almost 4,000 lives in Sierra Leone. Schools were forced to close and children missed a full school year. Countless schools and students were affected.
Thanks to our generous donors, we have shipped 33,000 books since April 2016 to our partners in Sierra Leone to help students get back into their education.
Yearie Darboh Kamra, Head Teacher of Bassa Town Primary School shared her school’s experience of Ebola and her pupils’ journey back to learning:
Waterloo is about 20 miles away from Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. I’ve been teaching here for the last 14 years and I love my job. I believe education is the key to life! We have 1,317 pupils from nine to twelve years old and there are always challenges for us. But when the Ebola outbreak began in 2014, it was worse than anything else.
A very difficult time.
My town was affected. People died here. By June 2014, a national state of emergency had been declared and all the schools were shut down. They stayed shut for nine months. It affected our children so much – they missed a whole school year. They had to stay in their homes, they were not allowed to go out to play with their friends. Everywhere you went there were checkpoints to wash hands, take temperatures. There was no way for people to even shake hands. It was a very difficult time for us.
That time was a very bitter experience because schools were closed. We need to play. But at that time, there was no playing in our minds. We there thinking about our friends who were dead.
– Osman, Bassa Town Primary School pupil
Rebuilding lives post-Ebola.
The school reopened in April 2015 and now we are trying to recover. I believe we will succeed, but it is hard. I have 21 teachers, but we don’t have enough resources for the children. We only have a small number of curriculum textbooks and no other books at all. Most families can’t afford to buy books for their children. That is why I was so pleased to receive a donation of books from Book Aid International in June 2016.
Improving reading skills with books from Book Aid International.
Those books have been so good for us. Children can come to the library, read the books and improve their reading skills. Our teacher-librarian can help them to find books and help with words they don’t understand. The children are learning about different places, people and communities and that helps them to feel happy and lively. The children are so eager – you can see the excitement in them to come to our small library and read. Books and stories can be an escape from some of the hardships of life for children and after the hard time of the Ebola crisis, it is good to see them enjoy the books.
I like the library because on a Wednesday we come here and learn something and read and discuss some things. I like school. It is for my future. When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer.
-Memunatu, Bassa Town Primary School pupil
We are only one school. Every place in Sierra Leone has its own story about Ebola, and everyone is facing challenges. But with the help of Book Aid International, we will keep working to recover.
Thanks to your support, we have sent brand new books to hundreds of schools in Sierra Leone but we need your help to keep sending books where they are needed most.
You can find out more about Bassa Town Primary School and its library in the short film below. Please, if you can, make a donation today and help provide beautiful, new books to communities that really need them.