We were very pleased to pay a visit to the Stella Maris Primary School situated in Juba, Freetown. We had a very warm welcome from Fr. Sesay, the parish priest, and from the students and teachers. Several classrooms were visited and observed.
We encouraged these beautiful children on the importance of reading and doing well in school. Boxes of brand-new school textbooks were donated to elementary grades 1-6, and included the subjects of English Language, Mathematics and Social Studies.
We were very honored to spend a week at St Mary’s Children’s Center in Lakka. The hospitality of the nuns, Fr. Konteh, the children and staff was beyond our expectations. During Ms. Garnem's stay, a selection of over 150 Elementary and Middle School text books including Social Studies, Math, Science and Geography text books generously donated by St. Peter's School, Olney MD was formally donated to the center. An additional five (5) boxes of school-recommended fiction books for young readers teens, two used laptops and three new tablets were also donated to the Center. The highlight of each day was driving through the gates of the center and being welcomed with lots of hugs and squeals of joy by the children. Special treats of cookies, juices and lunch supplies brought us the joy of seeing big, gleaming smiles from ear to ear.
Other highlights including a few days of teaching the children basic computer skills, ending each class with watching short movies or music clips. The music clips inspired the children to practice a well choreographed dance which they excitedly helped upload to YouTube as their final class reward.
And the highlight of the trip was a visit to Don Bosco Fambul. This local Non-Governmental Organization helps children, teenagers and young people living in situations of high vulnerability in the streets of Freetown; victims of the most serious violations of their rights in Sierra Leone. Their key words are a true reflection of the good work they do – Prevention; Reintegration; Protection; Rehabilitation; Reunification.
“The Salesians of Don Bosco, priests and brothers, together with lay people manage the overall work since 1998 during the SL civil war. Our programmes include a Child Care Centre for boys who live in situation of streetism; a girls’ shelter for beneficiaries who have suffered all kind of abuse; a shelter for girls who live in situation of prostitution, and the group home’s programme for children who cannot be reunified with their families.” (https://donboscofambulsl.org/)
We were very fortunate to visit the Don Bosco Fambul Center on the feast day of St. Don Bosco. What a joy and humbling experience to celebrate with the children, Fr. Jorge and the caretakers of the Center. Here, the Foundation formally offered a cash donation of One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty United States Dollars ($1360 USD), along with 10 new tablets, five boxes of clothes and shoes, and one Polycom Conference System. Sierra Juice also generously donated 400 bottles of juice to celebrate Don Bosco Day so all present could enjoy a drink together.