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Sierra Leone News: 65 homes with women and girls benefit from startup kits

Supporting education of girls and empowering women that bears the greatest costs but receives least benefits from mining sector across the country, 65 female household heads have received Le3 million each together with start-up kits in seven artisanal communities in Kono. Sixty-five girls (ages 3-18 years) from these female household headed families will be supported to access and/or be maintained in schools for the 2018/19 academic year. As part of the package, each of the sixty-five girls received a uniform, shoes, bag, and learning materials during the launching of the ‘Empowering of the Girl-Child’ project in Kono. All this started with the discovery of Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s ‘Distributist’ ideas by John Kanu while studying in Oxford in (1999-2002). “G.K. Chesterton is the patron and inspiration of the Sierra Leone Chesterton Center (SLCC)”, said Kanu during the launching ceremony at the Kono District Council Hall in Koidu. The SLCC believes in social and economic transformation in rural areas through distributism. Explaining the decision to support the 65 family households stemmed from a baseline survey conducted by the SLCC in 2017 indicating that 56.2% of the female population in Kono district has never attended school. “Kono district is still identified with mining activities that continue to pose significant environmental degradation, social inequalities and poverty, “ he said. The Country Director of the Sierra Leone Chesterton Centre said his organization will continue to help poor families build their own capacities, maintain and sustain a healthy living through an understanding of ‘distributism’, sharing our God-given resources as much as possible to all members of our society. According to him SLCC has supported 105 projects including 35 farmer cooperatives in the last eight years mostly in six diamondiferous chiefdoms including Nimikoro, Tankoro, Gbense, Sandor, Nimiyama and Kamara. He observed the ‘Empowering the Girl-Child’ project represents a new development approach-which focuses on building ‘families’ rather than ‘communities’. Alpha Sesay, Assistant Director, Ministry of Education and Abu Bakarr Kanu, Social Welfare Officer from the Ministry of Social Welfare commended the Chesterton Center for complimenting government effort towards free quality education. They pointed out that the project was very much in line with government development strategy regarding access, retention and completion of basic education for the girl-child. Tamba David Lansana, Chairman Conference of Principals said the SLCC has made them proud, reminding the audience the SLCC has also been supporting the district on agriculture, community development programs and technical training for women farmers and other community organizations. Solomon Sahr Gbondo, Chairman Kono District Council called on parents to utilize the financial support appropriately, encouraging the girls to focus on their studies, as education is their dignity and pride for the future. Massah Bona, wife of the Nimikoro Paramount Chief expressed thanks and appreciation SLCC for supporting Kono district that is in need of such support to ensure they protect their girls and also provide assistance for the women. Mariama Toto, a class six pupil and also a beneficiary girl, maintained the intervention is timely as they are preparing for their first public exams, disclosing their parents find it difficult to cater for them especially girls. Maseray, a parent, said SLCC support could not have come at a better time than now given the difficulties families encounter to educate their children, especially the girls.  “The SLCC was formed in 2002 in Oxford and registered in Sierra Leone in 2006 as a community-based organization (CBO) to build capacity amongst poor families through ‘Distributism,” said Kanu, explaining Chesterton Centre, “is particularly focused in supporting the education of girls and empowering women who bear the greatest costs and receive the least benefits from mining sector in Sierra Leone.

Wednesday November 7, 2018.

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