In 2012, we were deeply honored to be recognized with a Global Citizen Award from the United Nations Association for our impact on global development.
We have made a measurable impact in under-resourced rural areas in Sierra Leone since our beginning in 2009, supporting education and community development.
College Scholarship and the “Pay-It-Forward” Model
Our college scholarship program provides funding for exemplary students to attend college in the town of Makeni. Our scholars have studied information technology, business administration, developmental studies, human resources, and agriculture at either University of Makeni or Northern Polytechnic. You can get to know more about our current college students here.
We promote a “Pay it Forward” culture within our college scholarship program, so that we are helping not only students directly benefiting from scholarships but future generations of students as well. Each student is required to sponsor a student (other than a relative) themselves upon graduation, as well as to select a village to for which they advocate. The issues that they will address with the village they sponsor are determined by community need. You can see our recent graduates here.
Less than half of the adult population in Sierra Leone can read and write. As part of our pay-it-forward model, our college students are required to spend their summer in the village and teach adult literacy. No other organization offers adult literacy in the remote villages of Sierra Leone. We take pride in extending our services where no one else does.
Access to computers and high-speed internet connections are extremely limited in Sierra Leone. We have built the first public high-speed Internet cafe and technology center in Makeni, the fourth largest city in Sierra Leone, with a population of over 110,000. Previously, modem connections were only for private businesses and homes for the limited families that could afford it. Through our Technology Center operated by our college students, Families Without Borders is now offering high-speed fiber connection available to public.
This center was started by our first college graduate in information technology, Ibrahim Kalokoh, after returning from a Families Without Borders internship. During this internship, Ibrahim toured major technology companies in the United States. He also received a gift of six laptops from the CTO of Citrix, Mohammed Sallam, to help start an internet café in Makeni. Ibraham returned to Sierra Leone to organize the project for Families Without Borders, which provided the small building, office equipment and furniture. The goal of the project is to provide not only internet access, but software training, employment opportunities for college students, and eventually an innovation center where local entrepreneurs can connect online to San Francisco Bay Area business mentors.
Street Children Outreach
All our college students are required to connect with one street child in the city of Makeni, take them out and treat them to a warm meal once a week where they will coach, mentor, and possibly encourage them to attend vocational schools. The goal is to accustom our students to staying involved in the community and to remember the less fortunate.
Leadership Retreats and Entrepreneurship Workshops
In February 2016, we held our first leadership retreat and entrepreneurship workshop at Beach no. 2 near Freetown for students in our college scholarship program. They engaged in team-building and leadership exercises, were inspired by new ideas, and were challenged to come up with business ideas that would solve a social problem in their community. The focus of the program was to change their perception of great leaders from “power” to “service.”
Street Cleaning Initiative in Makeni:
Once a month, FWB college students gather to clean the streets of Makeni as part of their community service. Since they imagined the project, the city has become cleaner than it has ever been and people are slowly learning to appreciate waste responsibility.
Educational Aids and Supplies for Village Schools
In rural villages of Sierra Leone, school supplies are a luxury. There is no funding for basic supplies such as notebooks, pencils, blackboards, chalks and textbooks. Teachers do the best they can without any supplies to teach. We provide school supplies to eight schools in seven villages in Mayomba chiefdom, supporting 40 teachers with basic tools and resources to teach and helping 2,000 students be equipped to learn.
School Buildings and Furnishings
Impacting 500 people, we have built three permanent school structures in three villages (two elementary and one middle school), replacing the mud huts which last a mere two years that are typically used for schools. Once the schools were built, we provided the basic furnishings needed for learning, such as school desks, chairs and black boards.
In Sierra Leone, many children in poor communities do not have any durable playthings. Families Without Borders provided soccer and tennis balls to several villages for community recreation. These are more fun to play with than grapefruit!
Providing Generators and Solar Lamps
Access to education means more than school supplies and buildings. The children in our target area live in homes without electricity. After morning classes and afternoon farm work, they are often unable to do their homework. We provided fuel and solar generators to the elementary schools of each of the seven villages we serve so that children can return to school to study. These generators have also expanded the usage of classrooms beyond daylight hours for community use, transforming schools into community centers for the villages.
We encouraged villages to create school gardens as a prerequisite for receiving a solar generator and other resources that we provide. Our reasons were two-fold: to spark community ownership and investment in their schools, and to supplement the often meager diet of the schoolchildren, who all too frequently have a maximum of only one meal per day and tragically sometime none at all. Currently, there are school gardens at seven elementary schools in seven villages, impacting thousands of young elementary students who receive a piece of fruit every day.
Water Wells and Toilets
For many villages, there is no access to clean water. Children and women have to walk miles to access standing water that they use for cooking, cleaning themselves, and washing dishes. We have built two water wells and eight toilets, providing improved sanitation and heath and clean water access to 500 residents in two villages.
There are no government or community funds available for needed village improvements, such as roads, wells, and school repair and maintenance. We developed a community farm project in two villages, serving 600 people. Sales from the farms will be used for funding community infrastructure projects.
Middle School and High School Fees
Children often stop going to school at a young age due to the lack of funds. So far we have provided 250 scholarships to top performing students to continue their education.
... and we can do even more but we need YOUR help
If you would like to be part of this incredible journey please consider making either a fiscal donation or volunteering your time.