- Nancy Benoit
Bo, Sierra Leone / May 3
We are at last completing our humanitarian work here in Sierra Leone and tomorrow evening I start our long journey back home to Massachusetts and back to the many issues awaiting me at Seven Hills Foundation upon arriving. Today we visited our BO School which Seven Hills Global Outreach built in 2016. Today it serves over 400 children in grades 1-12 who are committed to their school studies knowing that for many , education is the surest way out of poverty. I have known many of these children for 11 years when they were small children and now are showing me how they’ve mastered algebra and trigonometry. Our headmaster always likes me to walk into each classroom and speak to the children individually and today my colleague Tim Johnson and I asked them what they hoped to be when they complete their education. 6 years ago when I would ask this same question I would be told “a driver or a chauffeur, or perhaps work in a guest house”. Today my heart was filled with joy when the students said “ a doctor - a nurse- a banker -an engineer”. Our role in Sierra Leone and in every country where we work - inspired by our own Seven Hills employees from around the world- is intended to first and foremost bring HOPE to the poorest of the poor. Hope and a belief that their lives can be whatever they can dream it to be , along with the hard work required to make it so. Whenever I become weary with the burdens of life and demands of work all I need do is think about those children and adults we at Seven Hills work with in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and around the world and my determination is renewed. We cannot fail even one child or adult as they rely upon us all to help turn their dreams into a reality. 400 children embraced us today yelling and singing and thanking Seven Hills for becoming part of their lives - and that is the ‘WHY’ of our work.
Later in the afternoon I was asked to meet with the Dean of the Najala University School of Public Health to discuss our clinic work in the bush villages and how Seven Hills might collaborate with the university to improve their standards of education and curricula. It is sobering to see the limitations of academic materials and training when compared to what is available in the United States. While their facilities are modest - the determination and dedication of these young scholars is inspiring.
This evening we concluded our official work by debriefing with our SHGO partner , Pastor Michael Kanu and agreed to pursue a variety of initiatives intended to bring clean water to several additional villages, establish a regional primary school supporting 6 villages, and construct a walking bridge over a dangerous river which has already claimed the lives of several children and their mothers. This is what we do because “if not us, then who ?”
In just one week we opened and dedicated a new community library, trekked for miles in incredible heat and humidity to meet with village chiefs, reviewed the ongoing work of our schools , medical clinic and birthing center, and spent time listening to hundreds of children and adults in BO as well as the deep jungle. My thanks to Tim and Peter for remaining fully engaged in everything undertaken - they were both so very appreciated by so many. I also want to thank my colleagues back home at Seven Hills in RI and MA who have followed us on this daily blog update. Our next significant SHGO initiative will be in East Africa . In recognition of our many East African employees from Kenya we will be building a new primary school for grades 1-3 in the largest slum in Africa ; ’Kibera’ which is embedded in the heart of Nairobi. The new Bethel School will be constructed along with our Kenyan partner - FOCUS Dream Academy and scheduled to begin construction this Fall.
I will miss my many friends in Sierra Leone as I prepare to leave but I am so anxious to return home with my wife and family - AND my Seven Hills family. Blessings to you all for following our SHGO efforts on behalf of our employees.
Dr David A Jordan.