Esther Lehman-Sow, World Vision’s Regional Leader West African Region (WAR), was on a three-day visit to World Vision Sierra Leone. As part of her visit, the Regional Leader visited some World Vision Sierra Leone’s operational areas in Kono and Port Loko. Esther, who was here during the thick of the Ebola crisis, is visiting post-Ebola Sierra Leone for the second time to hear communities tell their stories of change and transformation.
Esther was accompanied by James Chifwelu, the National Director, World Vision Sierra Leone, and Grace Kargbo, the newly appointed Operations Director for World Vision Sierra Leone, the first woman to have filled this position since World Vision was established in Sierra Leone in 1996.
Esther’s first field visit was to Sowadu, a community within World Vision’s Gbane Area Development Programme (ADP) in Kono District, in Eastern Sierra Leone. The team held very interactive and fruitful discussions with community members who made startling revelations on the impact Savings Groups (SG) are creating in their individual as well as corporate lives in the community.
Kweyadondor SG in Sowadu community had pulled resources together out of their Savings Groups’ (SGs) Social fund and are constructing a pre-school. This pre pre-school, the community said, is borne out of the fact that children were covering long distances to access school in other communities because Sowadu lacked one.
“Our children are covering long distances to go to school. So, we sat down as a group and proffered solutions to this problem. That is how the school building project came about,’’ says Hawa Gborie, Chairlady, Kweyadondor, Group 1.
Note: More quotes and insights are available in photo gallery links on this document.
Kweyadondor from Kono language, is translated in English to mean “unity”. Kweya means “word”, and dondor means “one”. The two words, when put together, gives you “one word”. One word originates from the Krio language of Sierra Leone, and is being used widely by other languages. That’s how Sierra Leoneans refer to unity in all Sierra Leonean languages across the country.
Esther was impressed with Sowadu’s show of community cohesion. ‘’I am happy you are investing in your children. Your coming together and taking critical decisions about your children makes me feel very proud. It gives me great joy to see communities owning their own development,’’ says Esther, while addressing people of Sowadu community.
‘’That is how you look after and care for children. I am also happy you stick to the rules in your groups,’’ she further mentions.
James Chifwelu was also moved by the community’s passion and hard work and the evidence of their work. ‘’Sitting here and listening to your testimonies, gives meaning to the work we do. These are real life stories; they portray the reality on the ground. Also, there is a lot we can learn from you around discipline,’’ says James.
See photo gallery of Esther’s visit to Kono on this link: http://www.wvi.org/sierra-leone/gallery/empowering-communities-through-savings-groups
In another development, Esther visited Port Loko, one of the hard hit zones of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). She was welcomed to Komrabai, a community that lost 110 people to the virus. Ebola left Komrabai in total devastation and in dire need of food in the aftermath of Ebola.
World Vision, with funds from USAID, is implementing the Emergency Food Security Programme (EFSP). There is marked success in the overall implementation of the project, as total of four billion, eight hundred and ten million, six hundred and forty thousand Leones (Le 4,810,640,000.00) which is equivalent to eight hundred and fifty-two thousand, and seventy dollars, sixty cents ($ 852,070.60) was disbursed to five thousand, three hundred and twenty-one (5321) households in seven targeted chiefdoms across the district.
Esther had time to listen to these stories of change and impact and also had an on-site evidence when beneficiaries showed her the gains they have made since investing the money and seeds received from Emergency Food Security Programme (EFSP). View photo gallery link: http://www.wvi.org/sierra-leone/gallery/emergency-food-security-programme-efsp-providing-food-assistance-hunger
Esther crowned her visit taking WVSL staff through World Vision’s first Partnership Strategy in the history of the organization since it was established in 1950, and gave a little update on ‘Hubs’ Project across National Offices.
Esther is Up-close with Grace in this video link below: