What about outcomes/impact/success stories?
Our overall impact has been to enable and empower many young Sierra Leoneons to help their country in a meaningful and efficient way. The long-term effect of this is to teach them that it is indeed possible and rewarding to commit your life to improving the lives of others, although it will take hard work. We have exposed these young people to amazing and un-imagined endeavors such as starting a school, running medical clinics, managing sponsored students, contracting and constructing a school building, running school-wide drama and film presentations, interacting with young Americans who come from a vastly different perspective and starting an environmental initiative.
It should be noted that this is by no means automatic or easy. No one who lived through the Blood Diamonds war has escaped its impact. Everyone has some amount of PTSD and it is usually from witnessing harrowing events that most Americans have difficulty even thinking about. To help our young employees and volunteers work through this takes patience, straight talk, and sustained and consistent positive attention. Most importantly it takes a focus that great things will happen if you learn to look forward.
Here are some specific outcomes.
- Developing the local economy through a commitment to use only local labor. ALL our construction projects and our management utilize completely local labor in the form of contractors, nurses, teachers etc. There are talented and capable people there who can do much if given the opportunity.
- Construction of 8 three-family homes….over five lives saved from pneumonia, increased work productivity from decreased illness and incapacitation.
- Two major well repairs, relieving the villagers from drinking from the dangerously unhygienic nearby stream. All of the 750 immediate residents avoided greater exposure to parasites, schistosomiasis, etc. Definitely, some lives were saved and some debilitating illnesses prevented.
- About 60 completed school years of individual sponsorship of 18 students.
- Employing 4 Senior Staff and various part-time/temporary staff (several of which are young adult orphans)
- Deconditioning several babies out of the terror of seeing someone with unearthly white skin (this can take time!)
- Working through issues of war trauma with our employees.
- Three years of funding 85% of operating budget of Benmat Primary School in Bo, employing five teachers and keeping 150 students in school until the school established its own funding.
- Two primary school clinics for 250 students, providing modeling to twelve teachers on Drama, Music, Film, Activity Oriented ESL and math, mostly from Americans who have worked professionally in these fields.
- Exposing ten Americans to the life-changing experience of seeing our work in a place completely foreign to them.
- Providing education at our own PreK-6 school for 100 students with no previous access. Employing 7 teachers at our school
- Exposing four students to quality, frontline environmental education through multiple visits through our partnership with Tacugama Sanctuary and Environmental Advocacy Center.
- Medical Center serving 6 villages (5000), 350 hygienic births, 750 infant/toddlers given Polio Vaccine, 5000 residents’ health improved/lives saved through Annual Malaria Prevention Campaigns, two MD led Medical Clinics focusing on Blood Pressure and STD Prevention and Treatment. We have an ongoing program that continues to work on prevention in this area.
What’s next/on the horizon?
Yes, I am not lying when I say we need to focus on youth leadership development. However, we have a healthy distrust of unbridled charity. We’ve seen self-oriented donors and dependency and greed – so what is one way to avoid that? What is one way to make sure our resources and energy go towards our real mission of strengthening and not weakening? How do we reward the growth of effort and engagement? How can we encourage creativity and positivity? We have one idea that the 360° audiences might relate to… BUSINESS!
Of course, our real goal is to bring leaders out of some of the toughest and lowest places. But to see these leaders (employees and sponsored students) develop full potential, to teach them perseverance, to push 100% out of them, we want to make our foray into entrepreneurship. That is realistic, on the job leadership training. And in Sierra Leone the conditions are ripe. They have had 16 years of stability and there is one thing that is starting to reveal itself – there is a small but growing upper class that’s taken advantage/succeeded in this stability.
In a rather unexpected and unforeseen move, we are looking to ride the front of this wave and start an upscale restaurant in the second largest city of Bo. If other people are making money in Sierra Leone, then why shouldn’t we do it for a better reason than them!
We have some creative innovations in mind, but we realize that success won’t be achieved overnight. We do know that we already have a staff that is trustworthy and hard working. Once again, they are ready to push us forward. We’ve prepped in various ways, consulted those in the restaurant industry here and there and feel confident that we need to jump and jump now. We also want our business to be a community. I understand that this will be a real challenge, but we are shooting to give our employees a feeling of working towards something meaningful. (Once we pay back our startup money, all profits will go towards our direct work in education and development.) So even within business, within entrepreneurial activity, we want to spread integrity, honesty, and altruism. We are setting a very high goal of a good community atmosphere that is profitable and adaptive. And this community (our restaurant staff which will include our youth) will start YVA towards self-sufficiency.
How can our global audience learn more about and support Young Vision Africa?
To learn more about us you can check out our Young Vision Africa Website and our YouTube Channel and reach out to me through email [[email protected]] or phone [001-862-222-2370] if you see the need for our mission and have questions. And please explore the following opportunties to support our critical mission:
Funding & Corporate Sponsorship
Our new school building is fully constructed but we owe $16,000. We’ve committed to repaying it by December 30! If you want to be a significant part of that please contact me, and/or make a donation below:
Our bread and butter is our small group of monthly supporters. If you want to join us please contact me and/or make a donation below:
We need people! People who…
- feel called to join and unselfishly help our mission
- feel driven or are capable to share our message to a wider audience, in person, online, through organizations or companies looking to sponsor and adopt a global development non-profit.
- can serve on a Restaurant Committee, willing to meet 45 minutes a week for 3 months and perhaps give a bit more time for research/communication. This committee would give us key principles and details for success in this business while being humble enough to accept that many of their ideas will have no relevance in a place like Sierra Leone. One member of this committee would oversee the live music initiative of the restaurant.
- can serve as Environmental Coordinator/committee member to help set goals, structure and follow up on our nascent environmental education program and partnership with Tacugama.
- can serve as Weekly Whatsapp Mentors for James in grade 8 and Nancy in grade 7.
- might be able to get the school’s music video (which uses a Sara Bareilles song partly translated to Mende) to be seen by Sara Bareilles.
- are willing to invest some money and time into a trip to Sierra Leone to work with our teachers, our children, our youth or our senior staff through educational outreaches and restaurant development.
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