News archive: 2012/13
A lovely review written by one of our trustees on their recent visit to Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Arriving in Sierra Leone for the first time was an exciting experience. Freetown was busy and chaotic, and we arrived at the ferry port in time to see the ferry disappear. However, the four hour wait for the next ferry gave me a chance to see the beautiful scenery which makes up the backdrop of this beautiful country, to taste the coconuts being sold along the street and take in all the smells of fish being cooked and sold, and to watch the variety of people coming and going.
The children were waiting for us when we arrived, even though it was late, they were as excited as us and pleased to introduce themselves and show us around. And so, for the next 10 days we spent time enjoying and getting to know the children and staff. We were immensely impressed by the staff, their dedication, and their gentle and loving kindness towards the children.
One of the greatest joys, and something we had been praying for was a wheelchair for one of the young boys. We were delighted when a company in the UK, INVAcare, agreed to give us a child's ex-demonstration chair for him. Young Mustapha, 'Staffi' had been brought to us after being found on the street. He was only able to get anywhere by crawling, so a wheelchair has completely revolutionised his life.
We visited many of the children who are still at school but are now living with relatives we have traced. It was good to see how well they were and how well they are doing at school, it was clear to me that this was the most valuable thing we could give them.
We also had the joy of taking the children to one of the many beautiful beaches around Freetown on our last day; it was good to be able to spend this time having fun with the children.
The morning we left, we called into the offices one more time and saw one of the young girls who first came to us; she is now living a good life and living in the home of her uncle. This was perhaps the best way the 10 days could have ended, so worthwhile!
Trustee, Richard Green-Wilkinson, son Ed, and son-in-law, Iain completed their Cycle Challenge, from Le Havre to Marseille in 9.5 days, finishing on Monday 16th September! Facing head winds, rain, sun, beautiful scenery, several punctures and a fall, they battled on and completed the challenge, arriving weary and sore, but delighted to have finished! Read more...
You can still sponsor them. Money raised will enable the Centre to rescue more children and start them on the St George programme, and also to support those already benefiting.
Soon after setting up the charity, we made a commitment to ensuring that the children who were reunited with their families would continue, and complete, their education. There is no state funded education so we were aware the financial responsibility would fall to us. As we have taken more children off the streets, our outgoings have increased considerably to fulfil this pledge, so we made the decision this year not to take on so many new children.
We are very grateful for the ongoing support we receive and always delighted to receive new or increased support which will enable the team in Sierra Leone to educate and rescue more children.
Sierra Leone Scout Association renege on the terms of our MOU with them.
This dispute has been rumbling on for a couple of years now; we have spent $60,000 refurbishing the Grafton Camp site, but the Scouts who own the land are now trying to claim these beautiful buildings back years earlier than they had agreed. The Scouts have served us notice to quit the site with no regard for the children.
St George Foundation is claiming the refurbishment costs back from the Scouts.
Have a look at the before and after photos of the work carried out:
The US Embassy has opened a discussion with St George Foundation in Sierra Leone, to support the building of a new residential centre that will be required when our present agreement with the scouts ends. We already own land for a new building but have not yet raised the funds for the building itself.
Philip Dean (co founder of St George Foundation) and his wife Joanna celebrated their first anniversary with the birth of a healthy daughter Florence Hannah on the 13th August.
July – August 2012
The rainy season in Sierra Leone has seen the heaviest rains we can remember. Sierra Leone has seen a number of cholera outbreaks and St George has spent some considerable effort deep cleaning the children’s home at Grafton, which has thankfully not suffered from cholera. However, other illnesses, including malaria and flu have sadly led to seven amongst the greater ‘St George’ family of staff and children losing family members (including two staff members losing children).
The heavy rains have also damaged the rice crop and we cannot expect a bumper crop this season.
March – June 2012
Two volunteers head off to Sierra Leone to further a project to support the building of a secure home for children that have come into conflict with the law and also to advance a project to support young victims of physical and sexual abuse in the Makeni region. The secure home proposal has now reached ministerial level and has been very well received. Although not part of the St George Foundation programme, we have provided some support.
The rice harvest is successfully sold to the World food Programme. Again this project has provided healthy profits which have been used to support the payment of local school fees for the Centre children.