Bo District, SIERRA LEONE -Nineteen-year-old Fatmata Tavegutu, residing in the “Mbundorbu Boama” Chiefdom in Bo District, has taken a significant step towards her education by enrolling at the Sunday Foundation Skills Training Center in “Gerihun,” Boama Chiefdom, Bo District. This opportunity comes thanks to the support of Action Aid Sierra Leone, after she had dropped out of school for a period of five years.
At the age of 15, Tavegutu was in JSS three (3) and lived with her parents, who depended on meagre earnings from subsistence farming. After sitting for the Basic Examination Certificate Examination (BECE) in 2018, she was unable to continue her education, leading to her dropping out of school.
Two years later, she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. Despite her circumstances, Tavegutu’s determination to learn led her to benefit from a project being implemented by Action Aid in the Chiefdom.
Another project titled “Action to Empower Marginalized Adolescent Girls” has motivated ten girls in the “Gerihun” Chiefdom, Bo District, to return to school. Action Aid provided school supplies and learning materials to support their education. The girls not only receive educational empowerment but also training in how to confront sexual and gender-based violence and speak publicly without fear.
Simitie Lavalie Esq, Board Chairperson of Action Aid-Sierra Leone, encouraged the girls to take their education seriously, emphasizing its importance.
Nineteen-year-old Tavegutu expressed a strong desire to acquire more skills and appealed for further support in this regard.
Lavalie, the Board Chair, stated that Action Aid is willing to do more if funds are available. She also urged the young participants to promptly report cases of human rights violations to their Bo Office.
Foday Bassie Swaray, Executive Director of Action Aid-Sierra Leone, highlighted the organization’s willingness to expand its scope to other communities if funding permits. Swaray discussed various projects the organization has initiated, including a savings and loan project and the empowerment of marginalized adolescent girls, with the aim of empowering women and girls in the District.
Given the numerous challenges faced by women and girls in the District, Swaray explained that some of these challenges can be addressed internally, while others require collaboration with external partners.
Fifteen-year-old Agness Sesay, a JSS 2 pupil at the Agricultural and Vocational School, shared her story of resilience. She had been living with her elder brother after the loss of their father but could not attend school due to financial constraints. Action Aid-Sierra Leone made it possible for her to return to school after two years.
Gerald J. G. Khama, the Acting Vice Principal of the school, praised Action Aid-Sierra Leone’s intervention, emphasizing that community efforts alone would not have been sufficient to complement the educational gains made by the government. He appealed for more support from the government and development partners, including Action Aid-Sierra Leone, especially for the provision of transportation for pupils who often have to walk long distances to reach the school.
While Emmanuel Turay, the Former Board Chairperson of Action Aid-Sierra Leone, commended the government’s inclusive education policy, the Acting Vice Principal emphasized that there are still many girls in the district who lack access to education.
Sallay Bendu, the mentor for the ten girls brought back to school by Action Aid, expressed her pleasure in providing mentorship, acknowledging that these girls have endured difficult circumstances.
Thirty-three-year-old Celina Wudie, a single parent with eight children, disclosed that most of her children were not attending school due to financial constraints. However, thanks to Action Aid-Sierra Leone, two of her children who were not attending school have now returned.
These inspiring stories emerged during a visit by the leadership of Action Aid-Sierra Leone to various communities where the organization has implemented its projects. The visit took place during their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the District.
Action Aid-Sierra Leone continues its commitment to empowering youth and girls through education, making a positive impact on their lives and the communities they serve. SKS/2/10/2023