Rhema and how the school was set up The school is one large building with two floors. The basement has three classes for preschool and kindergarten. The second floor consisted of six different classes divided by wooden boarders. The school had no bathrooms or sanitation.
Class Three Equivalent to the “third” grade these children have an education of that of a “first grader” in the U.S.
Waste management Problem Sierra Leone is similar to that of a landfill. Everywhere I visited in Sierra Leone was completely filthy and there was trash everywhere. Lack of basic plumbing and trash disposal creates an environment where germs and disease spread quickly throughout villages. This is a photo of the front lawn at my host family’s home, they throw all there accumulated trash throughout the day and dump it in front of their house. Children were often seen playing in trash and landfills.
School System All schools in Sierra Leone are all private, because of lack of government funding. Students to Primary school (grades 1-6) Junior Secondary School (grades 7-9) High School (10-12) Proceeds to National Entrance Exam
Religion Muslims and Christians live side by side in peace. Many Muslims and Christians marry each other. Sierra Leone is one of the few countries in Africa that remains at peace between Christians and Muslims.
Left: The Kids from Goal and IRight: The classroom that no one learns in.
Would be Useful if the children at Goal could READ! Many in Sierra Leone believe AIDS stands for American Investigation to Discourage Sex. They believe it is a CIA operation that is in place to depopulate Africa. Most HIV/AIDS information is distributed by NGOs, NOT by the government.
Who are the kids @ Goal? Most children where abandoned, like how we throw out garbage, by their parents because of poverty. Some of the children lost parents to HIV/AIDS. Some of the older children lost their entire family from the war. Many children are street beggars or dig through landfills to sell glass bottles to local vendors (approx. 3 cents USD per bottle) The children I volunteered at Goal were great. They said I was the first Westerner to come and visit. I brought them candy daily and bought a few soccer balls. All of the kids were eager to learn and most importantly to be loved. I tried to teach them daily lessons and something new, but because learning takes time and volunteering at Rhema, I was unable to teach them as much as they were liked.
My favorite bud, Ibraham Ibraham, 14 years old was taken in by my host family after his family abandoned him. He was beggar in the streets before being “taken in”. He was only with the family for a few days before I arrived to Sierra Leone. He was my best friend and without a sponsor, I am paying currently paying for his schooling until he graduates high school.
Showing me around the Outlands. Ibraham loved listening to my I-pod! Homies for life!
Child Labor I saw children fetching water all day. As if there existence was solely to fetch water. They did not go to school nor play, just fetch water… More children working @ work
Child Labor Problems Sierra Leone’s child labor problems is one of the WORST in the world. Though I was unable to photograph child labor as much as I would have (because it is a illegal in Sierra Leone). I saw children as young as three years of age fetching water, doing laundry, and other physically demanding domestic jobs. I saw hundreds of children work in Freetown on the streets. Many sold bags of water and food. I met children who were sold as bondage labors and as Indentured servants (slavery) for small loans to the parents. Many wove carpet from 5 AM to 11 PM. All foods were added to the total debt daily and if daily quotas were not met, the owner would add months/years from the agreement made between the owner and the child’s parents.
Child Labor in Sierra Leone I named him, “Red”, because he always wore that same shirt. Every time I saw him, he was fetching water. There was not a time nor day, when he was not fetching water. He told me he dreams of going to school one day. A three year old child fetching water?!
Creativity and Imagination!! Brought coloring books and crayons for the kids to draw and color. This picture was taken after an hour of mass pandemonium because of the crayons! Creativity and imagination are two of the most important aspects that children in Sierra Leone lack to express.
My paparazzi There was not a moment of a day when children were not around me. They would sleep outside my window, spy on me, and follow me throughout the village! Best body guards I the world. More kids!!
John Maxium John was a former child solider who served for the RUF. In a recorded interview, he explains atrocities child soldiers were forced to commit. He was one of forty to fifty former child soldiers who live in Thunderhill, my host families’s residents. He became a very close friend, who I trusted, he showed me around Freetown and took me to various parts of Sierra Leone.
More evidence of Child labor. These children asked for food, because they have not eaten yet. I saw them fetch water in the morning and continuing to do so. (If you want to know, I took them to buy them this……..
What I ate for most of my stay in Sierra Leone Yes, Laughing Cow cheese you can buy at Meijer is available for sale in Sierra Leone. I would always buy children bread and, because of the energythey were burning throughout the day from working.
Two Presidents??? Sierra Leone wants President Obama to know they support him! At the top: His Excellence President Komora Bottom: Vice President Sumana
Their favorite Teacher that “made the write too much” The students at Rhema never wrote about their aspirations. So I made them! More writing!
Uncle Jin, No writing today, right?WRONG!! Only because I had I write to lot in middle school! The future of Sierra Leone
Children who I stayed with Ester, 13, lost both her parents in the war. She was the eldest orphan. ( Toilet papering me) Betty, 11, lost her mother in the war and was abandoned by her father.
Children who I stayed with Susanne, 11, orphaned from the war. Ibraham, 14, abandoned by his parents at 9 yrs of age.
Other kids who I became friend with! Assian, 17, just finished his National Entrance Exam. He loves Usher and Chris Brown. Francis Jr, 19, one of the biological children of the host family. (Kamaras)
Some of the children who were not fortunate enough to attend school, because of poverty. Most of children in Thunderhill did not attend school
More Rhema Photos! Teaching Class 3 Class one! (very “troublesome”)
Food? Breakfast of Champions.. Contents unknown.
Randoms… Dogs were mistreated and are brutalized everyday. It took two weeks to gain the trust of this dog through food and petting. I named her, Buddy Ole’ Pal
More Randoms…. Bought Fanta and Cola for Ibraham and the other children in the house to enjoy. Would you drink this water?
More Randoms…. Thomas Peters, the founder of Freetown. Destruction Bay. Literally grey and black from the pollution.
The view of Freetown from Thunderhill West Freetown East Freetown
Currency 2000 Leons= 75 cents USD 60% of Sierra Leone live off of this amount 5000 Leons= almost $2.00 USD This is considered a lot of money!
Playing a game.. They would stack washers and throw their shoe at the stack, the person who knocks the most off would win won. The winner is Monique!
A Special Thank You to: Professor Mike Devivo for accepting my Independent Study Geography Proposal. Thank you for being such a great professor, mentor, and friend. This would have never been possible without you, Sir. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done. You are one of the very few teachers/professors that has directly affected my life. Geography Lives!
Also a very Special Thank You to: Johnny and Jenny “Summer” Clausen. Johnny, I want you to know I am so grateful for everything you have done to help me get to Africa. You played a BIGGER role in this project than I did. You helped me make shirts, pamphlets, set up a place so we could have a Art benefit, made art, and supported me from day one. You inspired me to volunteer through hearing about your volunteerism in HIV/AIDS orphanages in South Africa. If Summer and yourself would have never invited me to your benefit for South Africa, none of this would have happened. I also want to thank your sister, Sarah and Alan for the help as well. What you did for me was out of the kindness of your heart. I am so grateful to have such great people like you two in my life! Thank you so much!!
Special Thanks to those from GRCC who donated! Dr. Teri Burt Mrs. Fatima Nieves Mrs. Stacey Heisler Mrs. Sarah Rose Mr. Marco Trimble Mr. Langston Gant Professor Yan Bai Professor Geoffrey Simmon Mrs. Gloria Thomas Ms. Becky Arrlington Mrs. Anne Sherman Ms. Nicole Crans Mrs. Jennifer Keessen Mrs. Vicki Maxa Ms. Sara Dorer
Special Thanks to: Capelli Salon for hosting our Sierra Leone Art Benefit Tommy Huizing. Thank you for letting me talk to your high school classes about my trip and allowing the students at Rockford Pubic be apart of something amazing! Josh Maitner. Thank you for donating your awesome art for donations! Anna Marie Clark from TRIO for helping me get a Summer scholarship through GRCC Foundation. Linda Spoelmanfor assisting me with writing my grant! You’re the best! Andy Bowne Thank you for getting my grant to the hands of former President Dr. Mulder, who granted me the Presidential Scholarship Award, that helped pay for the costs pertaining to my trip to Sierra Leone. Dr. Anne Mulder- Thank you for believing in me. You are the best President GRCC ever had!
Special Thanks to: Academic Service Learning Department members: Michael Schavey and Dr. Mindy Firlan. Jess Endres. Jess, Thank you for selling those shirts for me, gathering donations, and getting me beverages for our Sierra Leone Art benefit! You played a pivotal role in this project!! Mrs. Nikki Banks, professor in Corrections and Juvenile Services at GRCC , thank you for arranging me the time and location to share my experience with the Board. You have made a profound imprint on my life! Thank You!! Last and not least, I want to thank Grand Rapid Community College. I am so fortunate to be apart of an academic institution that really cares about the students. THANK YOU!!