It’s hard to imagine that early tomorrow morning we will be leaving this beautiful country, Sierra Leone, and its gracious people. We leave to spend a few days with our Kenyan SHGO partners: Bethel School, located in the slums of Kibera, Nairobi; Children’s Garden Orphanage in Uthirui; and the FOCUS Dream Center.
Today we began our morning with a return visit back to the Zion-Bo School, which we developed with our partner Zion Ministries and our donor partners in Massachusetts, Anthony Consigli, William Davis, and John Altomare. The school currently provides education for 313 children in grades 1-12. Dedicated just 3 years ago it’s become one of the highest academically performing schools in the entire city of Bo. We visited each class to see what these children, drawn largely from an impoverished local neighborhood, are learning and it rivals many public schools in the U.S. An assembly on the outdoor courtyard was held for us to meet parents, teachers and the children. Once again, Peter and Isaac were overwhelmed by kids wanting to hold their hands and play. It’s amazing to know that just a few short years ago - prior to the involvement of Seven Hills - these children rarely attended school, but now flock to our new facility eager to learn. In the afternoon, we traveled out to our Bandawa campus to meet with much poorer children at our Bandawa School. The children, who live in the jungle villages we support, walk for several miles through the bush in order to get to our campus. We currently serve children in grades 1-6 but have a need to add 3 more classrooms for grades 7-9, as the children begin to age. We were also pleased to distribute pencils that have been donated for 3 years now by a young girl named Madeline who lives in Garland, Texas. Each spring, a group of churches and a mosque in Garland hold a 5K “Running for Clean Water” road race to benefit SHGO, which has allowed us to hand dig 18 clean water wells for rural villages. Ron & Laura Watkins, Madeline’s parents, are instrumental in organizing that event and 2 years ago asked me what the school age children we serve could use. The thing that popped to my mind were ‘pencils’ and so each year Madeline saves her allowance and enlists her friends to contribute pencils to our Bandawa school. This year, over a thousand pencils have made their way to the thatched roof mud huts where the children live; thanks to a young girl and her loving family who have supported her each year.
It’s been a remarkable visit back to Sierra Leone to witness the steady progress SHGO, through our staff, donors, and local partner Zion Ministries, have made in the lives of these women and children. Knowing that we, at Seven Hills, reach around the globe in honor of our employees, fills me with joy. You can share in this experience by following along with my daily blog and looking at the moving images caught on camera by Peter Demko. More next time from Nairobi, Kenya.
Dr. David Jordan