20th Anniversary fundraising ride
Abid Gangat has been a supporter since the very first days of our charity, and is doing the Ride London 100 Miles for us to mark our 20th anniversary!
Please do support Abid with his fundraising page here: https://2024fordridelondon.enthuse.com/pf/abid-gangat
Financial summaries 2023
The accounts for the year ended 31 March 2023 have been signed off and are now available on our finances page.
Simplified summaries of our accounts will be available shortly in preparation for the AGM.
As we come to another year end I am very conscious that next year will be the twentieth year of working for children in Sierra Leone. That alone is a testament to the commitment you have all shown as supporters and a real achievement to still be there and still helping children. Thank you for all your support in 2023.
Even though it may seem as though it’s been a quiet year, we have had ongoing success in areas with steady support over the year for about 45 children at any one time, we have got an office built at Grafton, we have started work on a new access road to the home (a post purchase rearrangement). Thanks to a supporter’s generosity we are now building a new toilet block for the boys which was urgently needed after we realised the original one had structural issues. In the last few weeks we have been informed that the national water company is laying pipes very close to our property so we can finally access a permanent water supply.
Justina has recently married and is now Mrs Sheriff. He is the IT and communications manager for the government education department. He is very impressed by St George and already introducing a communications systems for the staff to use, plus planning to launch a campaign for support in the USA where he has spent much of his life. So that is very exciting on more than the personal level, but we wish Justina and Ibrahim every happiness.
Unfortunately all the good things have been overshadowed though. The tragic and unnecessary death of one of our young boys a few weeks ago upset everyone… Idrissa:
Some of you may be aware that there was an attempted coup in Freetown with gunfire across parts of the city in the early hours of November 26th. It failed, but the government announced an immediate national curfew while they dealt with the incident. By terrible bad luck, Idrissa was taken ill the same weekend and the curfew delayed his journey to hospital by over 24 hours. By the time the staff was able to get him admitted he had seriously deteriorated and died the following day from infection. Understandably shaken staff took no chances when other children started feeling unwell and the following week we took 12 children to hospital for check-ups - two were in fact admitted briefly but now all have recovered and all back at the centre. A very sad thing made worse by the fact that it may well have been so different had we been able to move him when he needed it.
On to formalities.
The AGM this year will be held on Zoom again at 10.00am on Saturday 20th January. Holding online will mean Justina and the children at the Centre should be able to join us. We will report in more detail at the AGM, but just to let you know now, we will look at work that has been carried out in 2023 at the Centre including, fencing the land, providing security,repairing and maintaining the solar power, building new guest accommodation and building the much more robust toilet block.
Funds have been severely depleted in recent months, so any contribution would be most gratefully received.
The trustees join me in wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year.
Recent news - December 2023
Since purchasing the Centre and land next door, work has continued on the site, completing the offices and subsequently providing guest accommodation.
In recent months, work has been carried out fencing off the land and ensuring good security is provided, along with maintenance to the Solar energy, roof repairs and new water pump.
We are also now rebuilding the toilet block with grateful thanks to a supporter for providing the funds.
We are hoping to hold our AGM on Saturday 20 th January 2024 at 10.00am online, but will confirm soon.
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