St George's Day Letter
As always – thank you to all of you that keep on supporting the work for children in Sierra Leone. Once again our latest accounts show our UK costs very low and at less than 1% (the average charity spread measured in 2019 was between 13% and 73%).
As you may be aware, we have been working with children’s charity, Toybox for a few years (directly supporting education for children in the streets), and they have been very supportive of our work and are currently carrying out an audit of our finances and systems.
Our AGM was held on line again this year and thank you to all who attended. We realise that Saturday morning is not a free time for many people, so for those that didn’t make it below is a brief summary. We were joined online by Justina in Freetown, and heard from some of the children again, which was great (links below of what some of them they had to say).
The 2022 accounts are on the website here… but the highlights are:
- Income up at £102k – thanks to our most generous supporters.
- Centre and land purchase at $70k plus tax and legal fees. Exchange rate $1.36 to £1
- UK expenses less than 1% of our income
- Some money loaned to us and being repaid over 5 years
- £40k of funds, with £13k of this in restricted funds, being sponsored education £5,918, ‘next door land’ £5,090 and Duke medical (see more below) £2,531.
With a much-improved exchange rate, we plan to increase the number of children rescued and brought to the Centre to 50 (from 40 this year).We would like to keep increasing the children at the Centre, if we can afford it.
The offices at the Centre have been completed this year see pictures here.
We need now to build the visitor accommodation (approx. £2,500) – very important for guests to be able to stay.
We need to put in our own drive, past the well (£800).
We also need to secure the premises with fencing and importantly, cameras, lights, alarms and good signage (£3,000).
As an environmentally friendly way of securing our property boundaries we are planting a mixed hedge as opposed to building a wall or permanent fencing. We really do have to secure the boundary. There is a huge amount of pressure for access to land for housing as the entire area around us transforms from rural tranquillity to suburban town. The valley used to be full of virgin rainforest, but its almost all gone over the past few years- It is quite likely we will have the only trees left in the valley on our property soon and if you look at the photos of the new office buildings, we did not remove the trees but worked around them.
On that point about being environmentally aware, we would like to promote the environment in Sierra Leone. We plan to educate the children of Sierra Leone about the environment to help the next generation understand their environment and the coming climate change. The local situation is awful with minimal understanding on the main issues with beaches clogged with plastic waste, a devastating crash in fish populations and uncontrolled waste disposal as well as exhaust fumes that are choking. It will be quite a project and we will be approaching organisations to fund it.
In order to do this, we need to change our charitable objects, so we propose changing to the attached, widening paragraph 1 and adding paragraph 2 (proposed changes in red). However, we would like to assure you that all our usual (and unrestricted) income will only be applied to our core activity of rescuing street children in Sierra Leone. Environmental matters or anything else will be the subject of special fund raises with income treated as restricted to the purpose of the fund raise.
If you have any concerns about the change, please let us know.
The Rescued Children
We had a catch up about past children, with whom we are still in touch and encouraging them. We mentioned that we currently know of 11 at university,3 having become church ministers, and others that we are aware of now living and working in Dubai, USA and Liberia.
We shared some films of children telling us what they are now up to since leaving (shared in the links above).
On Duke there is an update, and he is currently well, living an almost normal life, but frustratingly, still not had his major surgery, and still waiting for this. On the very positive side, and much thanks to a nurse at the hospital he attends, coming forward with information, we have now traced and reunited him with his family. They had felt they had no choice but to abandon him when their money ran out. We are remaining in close contact and continue to cover his medical expenses and oversee his care.
Ona very sad note, we informed the meeting of the sudden death of Abdul Sesay another past boy (through illness). At just 19 years old he had been studying at bible college and was a hard-working sensible young man.
As always, (over the past 19 years) we continue to rescue street children and care for them at the Centre, and we will have to think about marking next year when we will achieved 20 years of this work!
Many thanks for your continued support as always, and very best wishes for 2023.
Philip and the Trustees
New office building
Finance summary 2022
Happy New Year. We hope you had an enjoyable Christmas.
Just a short note to remind you that the AGM will be held on Saturday 21st January at 10.00am on Zoom. We will be taking you through last year’s accounts, have an update from Philip and involvement from the Centre at Grafton, Sierra Leone.
Please let us know if you wish to attend by Tuesday 17th January, so we can provide you with an invitation.
Happy New Year & AGM
Thank you to all who have supported us in 2022. We have completed the purchase of the ‘next door land’ (in addition to the Grafton Centre in 2021), built the ground floor offices at the Centre and taken in another 40 street children. None of this could have been achieved without the generosity of our supporters.
We have decided to once again hold the AGM on Zoom so that the many supporters at distance can join us, including the children and staff at the Centre in Sierra Leone. This will be held at 10.00am on Saturday 21 January and will include the financial report for last year (to 31 March 2022) and an update as to our progress and what we are hoping to achieve in 2023. If you would like to join us then, please let us know.
We wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year.
Philip and the Trustees
Sierra Leone: Civil unrest
Update from our children's home in Sierra Leone:
There has been a strikes over prices for the past week. Yesterday it turned very ugly and violent. There are bands of marauding thugs everywhere and they were at Grafton shooting. Police and army are on the street trying to restore order but gun battles going on all around us and nationally.
Justina is keeping all the children in the house and lying on the floor. Planning what we do in worst case scenario.
Sadly one child is dead from gunshots, but was not in the center at the time.
It is ongoing situation.