The Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy, in conjunction with the Women’s Drum Center and Jambo Africa, will hold the Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy Kick-off event, Saturday, June 20, 2015, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., at East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center; 2307-17th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404.
Tickets are free but RSVPs are requested by the close of business June 16. Contact Hindolo Pokawa at 612-702-0750 or [email protected].
What do Ebola, mining, and the UN Declaration of Human Rights all have in common? They have all had an impact on the education of Sierra Leone’s children.
Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy (SLFND) will observe the Day of the African Child by launching Sierra Leone’s first early childhood education center in areas affected by Ebola. Dovalema (“where children grow” in the Mende language of Sierra Leone) will be integrated with a 20-acre permaculture farm and learning lab: Ta-Valema (“source of germination” in Mende).
The children of Sierra Leone have spent the last several months at home in an attempt of the country’s government to quell the spread of the Ebola virus. After having killed over 3,000, the disease is now considered to be slowing down, with fewer than three cases reported currently.
Long breaks in schooling are unfortunately not new to the children of Sierra Leone, which ranks 183 out of the 192 countries listed in the UN Human Development Index.
“My own education was interrupted during Sierra Leone’s ten-year civil war. That illustrated the importance of education for me. It wasn’t until I saw my own daughter flourish in day care, though, that I realized the importance of early childhood education. Seeing her recognize letters and count makes it clear that most kids in rural Sierra Leone are at a disadvantage before they even start first grade. That has implications not just for them, but for the country and the world,” says Hindolo Pokawa, a Sierra Leone native and Founder and Executive Director of SLFND.
Ironically, mining for Sierra Leone’s precious minerals—whether for use in jewelry or cell phones—can be linked both to the war and to the deforestation that led to the close contact between human beings and the bats that carry the Ebola virus.
As the importance of early childhood education gains increasing recognition in countries like the United States, many children in countries like Sierra Leone—affected by generations of colonization, war, and disease—are left unattended while their parents farm for their families’ daily subsistence. Women must often walk miles with their children in the hot sun or risk the economic and domestic implications of not producing enough food.
Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy represents the change Pokawa wishes to see: in addition to providing rural families with increased food security through a permaculture farm, the nonprofit and nongovernmental organization will provide them with a safe and stimulating place to leave their children while they farm.
A survivor of war who responded by immersing himself in the nonviolent methodologies practiced by Gandhi, King, and Mandela, Pokawa quickly noted, “The Day of the African Child commemorates the Soweto Uprising, in which South African children marched for their human right to education. SLFND’s farm and early childhood center will also serve as a learning lab in which rural individuals can cultivate their ability to advocate for themselves and engage nonviolently with their families, communities, and societal institutions.”
Those interested in Africa, early childhood education, or permaculture are invited to spend the first day of summer enjoying West African hors d’oevres provided by Jambo Africa and rhythms performed by the Women’s Drum Center as they learn more about this initiative.
SLFND is an interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and translocal organization registered and working on the ground in in Sierra Leone and the United States.
It works in partnership with communities to build the foundation for citizens of all ages to deliberate and enact new, non-adversarial alternatives that democratize relationships and decision-making among and across individuals, families, institutions, and the environment.
USA Phone line: +16127020750