Literacy Project in Sierra Leone

Positive Lives Literacy Project: Methodist Church Sierra Leone.

Last year a grant of £2,615 was awarded by MWM to a literacy programme in Sierra Leone.  Here is an update from mission partner Janice Clark

By the end of the war in Sierra Leone, in 2002, Freetown’s capacity population of 300,000 had increased to over a million.  At the same time, the awareness of the presence of HIV/AIDS in the country was beginning to be recognised, and within the densely populated area of Wellington, the prevalence of opportunistic infections as a result of the virus was obvious.  With funding from Christian Aid, the Methodist Church Sierra Leone established a Community Clinic, which provides home based care for People Living with HIV (PLWH) and support for Orphans and Vulnerable children (OVCs).

The centre runs monthly meetings, where guidance is given on the taking of Anti Retroviral Drugs, Health and Hygiene. Some 120 people attend the meetings, most of them unemployed women, who have no formal education.  Many of the women have got to know their status through the antenatal clinics, but have not informed their partners of this status, due to the threat of being turned out of their homes and being accused of bringing the virus into the home.

Recognising the need for literacy work, an application was made to MWM to fund the training of literacy facilitators from amongst the centre’s clients.  This was done in July 2010 and in July 2011 they will have a three day refresher course, with the hope of receiving recognised certificates as trained facilitators.

Small community based literacy groups were established.  The enthusiasm of the literacy facilitators is buoyant, working well with their groups, and they meet together monthly, for sharing what is happening, practical support and ideas and to receive their monthly allowance of about £15 a month.

Mariama had come into Freetown from the provinces to live with her sister.  She passed the door where a class was taking place, looked in, was invited to come inside and started to come for classes.  Aged about 17, she has not been to school, speaks little Krio, no English, but is fortunate that one of the facilitators for her class speaks her language.

Hawa has been regularly attending her class. As she carefully copies down words from the board, you can see just how difficult the eye/ hand/ brain coordination can be for an adult, when holding a pencil is a new experience.  Over the months her accuracy of letter formation has improved and she is able to hold short conversations in English.

Mabinty comes to classes regularly and on time. She feels that she is progressing well, and is proud of her achievements so far.  A few learners have sneaked into the classes who have already had some schooling, but for one man this was over 35 years ago.  He attends regularly and is enjoying retrieving information stored in his long term memory.

Francis and Agnes work with an enthusiastic group which individually and as a group have grown in confidence. The learners have discovered that literacy classes can be fun and as a result they attend very regularly. Both learners and facilitators are grateful to those who have so generously given their support to this project.


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