On a dusty road at Kola Tree, Calaba Town east-end of Freetown, an awkward rectangular structure, constructed with rusty corrugated iron sheets and refugee tarpaulin is the ‘Children in Crisis’ primary, a school which initially started as an orphanage.
The name of the school denotes the appalling state of the children attending it, coupled with the inconvenient condition in which they are learning.
But hope is not lost, Pen Pals Education Network (PPEN) has timely intervened to address the clarion call of this much needed help school in this community.
PPEN- Sierra Leone, which is a locally based Non Governmental Organization (NGO) established in 1998 to assist youths, women and children that are less privilege to access education, has connected pupils of ‘Children in Crisis’ through its pen pal programmes with children counterparts in New York, Brooklyn.
This connection has attracted ‘Copperpot Pictures’ an American based film company which is currently doing a documentary on Children in Crisis, intended to be screened in US to their counterparts pen pals and at the same time used to raise funds to aid the school.
Speaking with the Copperpot Pictures co-edit delegation, Dave La Mattina- Director, Chad Walker- Producer of Photography and Clay Frost- Associate Producer, they explained that there were a lot of similarities with Children in Crisis and that of those in deprived areas in Brooklyn, New York. “Most of them are single parents, just like those in Sierra Leone, but Sierra Leone is pretty much calm when it comes to violence, unlike the US”, they explained.
The crew expressed admiration for the pupils’ zest to learn even under very hard socio-economic conditions in which they find themselves.
The crew explained that they were taken aback by the priority attached to education and religion by these pupils.
Dave La Mattina said the documentary was not like the traditional fundraiser documentaries, but that they had undertaken this project by their own volition.
The documentary crew’s mission is to restore hope to the orphans by mobilizing support from humanitarian organizations.
Peace Pals National Coordinator, Samuel Collins Thompson explained that even though the project was challenging they had made several strides.
He appealed for other organizations to support their drive to help these kids attained a better life.
The school’s head teacher, Ms Mamusu Tarawalie, explained that at present there were 35 orphans attending the school and eight of these children were under her care.
She said it was not any easy task taking care of these children, when there was no support coming from any quarters.
Proprietress Isatu Sento Kamara explained that, “feeding the children is a major constraint, at times we go for days without food”.
Mrs. Kamara called on other humanitarian organizations to come to their rescue in addressing this issue. By Ophaniel Gooding