Sierra Leone has joined six continents around the globe to celebrate the life of the founder of Save the Children, Eglantyne Jebb, who started the organization as a foundation in 1919 to help children grow up healthy, educated and safe. “Each generation of children offers mankind the possibility of rebuilding the world from its ruin”. These were the words of British born Jebb some 100 years ago. People from all walks of life including former British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Chief Komrabai Peter Penfold converged at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Aberdeen to share cocktails in honour of the founder’s legacy which was recognized in 1959 by the United Nations, adopting a new declaration of the rights of a child, that later became the convention on the rights of a child, on 20th November 1989. Speaker after speaker paid tribute to a woman who gave herself selflessly and was jailed, and later fined to save humanity. Heather Campbell is the Country Director of Save the Children Sierra Leone. Save the Children works in 120 countries on six continents. She said she has come to face the reality of giving hope to the hopeless. Quoting Eglantyne Jebb, “We may feel that we are insignificant in the darkness that surrounds humanity, but in reality, we are light, and though tiny by ourselves. If we unite, our flames can become brighter and brighter”. Campbell admitted women’s and girls’ lives are different now, but much more needs to be done to lift thousands out of their present state.
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After the end of World War 1, in 1918, 6 million children were reported orphaned and Dorothy Jebb, Eglantines’ sister, started her own newspaper and also wrote for “Cambridge Magazine”, to advocate for vulnerable children. Kadiatu Massaquoi, a 17-year old from Pujehun, said she lost all hope when she lost her mother and her father could no longer provide for her school needs. As a result, she was hurriedly married off to a suitor three times her age and a polygamous home. As a mother caring for her first child, young Kadiatu came in contact with field officers from Save the Children. Somehow Kadiatu’s life was changed after that. Irish Ambassador, Lesley Nhibrian, described the work of the Jebb sisters as selfless and a gift that will forever be cherished by the many millions who benefited in times of crisis, and those who continue to suffer as a result of manmade or natural disaster. She added that young Kadiatu’s story is like many others that have benefited from the child protection charity organization. The Eglantyne Jebb storybook was launched and will be made available for primary school children.
By Ade Campbell
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