How it all began…
I was visiting my daughter who was working on human rights issues in Sierra Leone in 2009. Before my trip, I learned that, according to a United Nations report, Sierra Leone was ranked the poorest country in 2007 and still remains one of the top ten poorest countries in the world!
I have always believed that education is the foundation for solving poverty and major global issues. I learned that most families in Sierra Leone can’t afford to send their children to school. As a result I asked my daughter to plan a visit to remote villages where access to resources and education is most limited. My intent was to raise funds to sponsor at least one child from each family that didn’t have the means to educate their children.
I announced my trip and the sponsorship idea to friends and family just before I was leaving the U.S. and raised enough money to sponsor 45 students mostly in Njadihun, a village with a population of about 372 people, located in Moyamba district in the western region of Sierra Leone. The family of my daughter’s Sierra Leonean friend came from this village and they introduced us to the community.
In addition to sponsoring 45 children to go to school in 2009 – 2010, we also provided educational programs to teachers, purchased a generator at the request of the head teacher and wired the school. The school became a place where children could return to and do their homework once they had finished their farm chores. It also became a place where the community could hold events after dark.
After that visit, while we were in Freetown, we learned that the six surrounding villages now wanted to send their children to Njadihun’s school, with its new generator and sponsorship programs, instead of their own village. To avoid a population shift, we decided to offer each village an opportunity to benefit from our program.
In addition to providing access to education, we wanted to encourage health and nutritious development for the children. So, we suggested the creation of school gardens as an incentive for our future support. Each village agreed to dedicate a plot of land to grow local fruit such as papaya, banana, pineapple and plums for the exclusive use of the school children. The most successful garden project would be the school to receive the next generator.
After my first visit to Sierra Leone, my heart was tied to the place and to the people. Those villagers and the family who introduced us to them became my family. I returned the following year to evaluate the program’s success and I have been going back every year since.
By early 2011, I realized that I could not continue the work without establishing a non-profit organization. I started to think about the potential of similar work in other countries, creating a successful model and expanding to other locations. The idea of education and creating sustainable communities along with tremendous support of friends and family to grow and expand the work led to the founding of Families Without Borders.
The meaning of our logo
The logo is a representation of our ultimate goal to help families around the world.
To this end there are seven icons representing people, one of each of the seven major continents.
They are colored to represent the seven colors of a rainbow a sign of hope and prosperity and the colors of the spectrum.
In short it stands for families around the world covering the whole spectrum of humanity.