Tag Archives: Ebola

Sierra Leone shipment arriving

You did it!

In September we launched our first ever Crowdfunding campaign to send 2,000 brand new books to children in Sierra Leone.

 

Bo City Library reader

 

The country was declared Ebola-free over a year ago, but efforts to rebuild continue and pupils are still playing catch up after their schools closed for a full year during the crisis. Books are a vital way for children to supplement their learning and get back up to speed:

The need is even greater now because Sierra Leone is still in the recovery period after Ebola. Literacy, education and access to educational resources and facilities are priority for the government to sail through this period.

– Sallieu Turay, Chief Librarian, Sierra Leone Library Board.

In light of the on-going urgent need for books, we launched our Crowdfunding campaign to raise £4,000 in just four weeks and send 2,000 brand new books to schools and children’s libraries in the country.

 

Bassa Town Primary Sierra Leone

 

It was an ambitious target, but thanks to the efforts of supporters who shared the campaign and the generosity of our donors, the campaign exceeded our target and raised a whopping £4,191 – enough to send 2,095 books!

We were delighted, as is Sallieu, our partner in Sierra Leone:

I was thrilled when I read that a crowd funding is in progress to support the children of Sierra Leone with 2,000 books. The books will prepare and better equip children to go to school and stay in school. Thank you Book Aid International supporters! The children of Sierra Leone appreciate you so much.

Port Loko children celebrate

 

Keeping communities informed during Ebola

When Ebola broke out in Sierra Leone in 2014, a national state of emergency was declared. Public institutions were shut, travel was restricted and children missed a whole school year.

Believing in their important role in contributing to the health, education and development of the country, the Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) kept the doors of its libraries open across the country.

We talked to Sallieu Turay, Chief Librarian of SLLB about the role that its libraries played during the Ebola crisis:

 

Somebody would say “what is the link with a public library and Ebola?” There is a link because we have a role to inform society about contemporary issues.

During the Ebola period, the Sierra Leone Library Board libraries remained open. We never closed our doors. Schools were closed, colleges were closed, some public offices were closed but all our libraries nationwide were open. We motivated our staff to make sure that they continued to deliver the relevant library and information services to the public.

 

Freetown

 

There were a lot of restrictions in terms of movement from one point to another. But we were travelling all over the country trying to distribute books, distributing other educational items to the public. To move from one point to the other, you had to make an application for permits to travel. Without those permits you couldn’t travel from one point to the other. And you had a time frame you were allowed to travel within – you couldn’t travel outside of that set period. It was difficult but we ventured.

 

Bo City Library Sierra Leone

 

The there was also the risk of interacting with people during that period. But our libraries run a lot of outreach services for their communities. We do book programmes and lot of user education, especially things that relate to health issues. We did this especially during the Ebola period. We were the first to bring on board traditional healers all over Sierra Leone to educate them on issues related to Ebola prevention.

 

Activities at Bo City Library, Sierra Leone

 

We also continued to run our library programmes like quizzes, dramas, reading promotional activities and the like. We wanted to try to close the gap. Most children were at home doing nothing and we believed that making our doors open within that period would give them something to do, somewhere to go.

It was not easy, but we tried to do what we could as a library during that particular period.  And it paid off so much.

 

In March 2016, the World Health Organisation declared Sierra Leone Ebola free. Schools are open again, businesses are restarting and everyone is focused on the future. We are proud to partner with SLLB, providing brand new books for library users of every age and stage. This year, we have shipped 33,000 books to Sierra Leone with the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We hope that these new, carefully selected books will help people as they rebuild their lives and communities.

To learn more about our work in Sierra Leone take a look at the links below.

 

Learning at Bassa Town Primary School

Getting back to learning in post-Ebola Sierra Leone

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:

 

Head teacher Yearie

 

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.

 

Reading at Bassa Town Primary School

 

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.