18 yrs old Osman Kargbo is on the run after he narrowly escaped death at a poro bush in Simbaia Village, Lokomasama Chiefdom, Port Loko District.
A total of six hundred (600) boys and girls in Moseilolo, Moyamba District, Southern Province of the republic of Sierra Leone are set to benefit from the construction of the Destiny Christian Academy school in that locality. This will enable the children access quality education, which is the vision of the government of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.
Grafton Community in the Western Rural District of Sierra Leone is now in controversy after a gay named Samuel R. Kabia is on the run following an attack on him by enraged youths during the Base 1 Social Club outing which was organize at the Kent Beach on Sunday 15th October 2017.
When I think of Human Capital Development, Ghana and Rwanda come to mind. In the mid70s I worked with some Ghanaians at a UN subsidiary organization in Liberia.
Webinar to Discuss the Implementation of International Law for Peace “Marching on Toward Sustainable Peace in a Pandemic Era”
On March 14, HWPL’s 5th Annual Commemoration of the DPCW was held as a live webinar, joined by over 1,200 people in 132 countries from all sectors of the society including government, international organizations, heads of women and youth groups, religious leaders, press, and members of civic society.
9th February 2021: The Eastern Provincial Headquarters on Kenema City has been in serious flames after traditional secrete society members got on the rampage in search of one James Koroma who they say made some public utterances against their culture.
INCLUSION OF WOMEN SELF-HELP GROUPS TO CONTRIBUTE TO HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF OUR NATION
Sierra Leone, for decades, has suffered and has been notoriously labeled, by multiple sources as one of the highest rates in illiteracy, maternal and infant mortality, corruption, gender inequality and other major socio-economic problems responsible for the high rate of poverty and backwardness. So many interventions by government, missionaries, NGOs and private sectors have failed to address the societal cancer of this nation. Other insurmountable challenges include lack of information and capacity on alternative livelihood options. Additionally, corruption and middle man exploitation have ravaged ignorant women who are unable to effectively and efficiently produce, process and/or directly access marketing opportunities. Most villages depend upon agriculture, fisheries, cattle-rearing and petty trading for their daily wages. I witnessed a particular trade fair process over the Christmas Holidays in Gbangbatoke village, Moyamba District where one of the district trade fairs are held locally called “Luma” or “Ndowei”. I found a lot of my women their from the Moseilolo WIMI group. The trade fair was very disorganized inspite of all the political promotions of such marketing opportunities. Majority of the villagers are not aware of political system and very few people participate in the political system. As a result, the people are dominated and exploited by these politicians. Our Women Self-Help Groups are unfortunately negatively impacted by such inefficiencies. Women Self-Help groups however, could be taken as the base for majority gender interventions and livelihood activities enabling them to contribute towards mainstream Human Capital Development process, thereby uplifting their status especially those from marginalized section of society through various development initiatives.
Other challenges that directly impact women groups are health-related. In a typical village like Moseilolo in the Moyamba District, only first aid support is available. By the time a serious patient is rushed to the closest medical facility 7-10 miles away, death often is the end result, adding to Sierra Leone’s statistics of highest mortality rates. Some areas, health and sanitation are much neglected. Due to financial problem, many do not go to hospital, they are treated at the village by phony shady medicine men, herbs or by quack local medical person, hardly providing any adequate healing. The village, as well as urban children suffer from poverty through malnutrition and other chronic diseases also adding to the Sierra Leone’s record of highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. I spent my 2020 Christmas Holiday in a typical village called Moseilolo, where I observed a baby’s death from high fever. The compounded difficulties are worsened during raining season when it becomes extremely difficult for the people to come to the closest medical facility. I was spending Christmas Holidays, but I felt like a researcher, mesmerized and overwhelmed by some of the challenges in the village, including a lack of school for 9 surrounding villages. I will address the academics in the next article.
Today, I would like to discuss a particular intervention, “Women Self Groups.” Developing, enhancing, promoting and utilizing socio-cultural practices of local communities could bring powerful positive changes in the livelihood opportunities and income generating activities which could contribute to human capital development of targeted communities. At PeFoHD, through our WIMI Programs, we have Organized Cluster level activities including alternative livelihood opportunities in the target communities for women like community fair shops and other micro enterprises like fishmongering and petty trading.
We have also been networking with financial institutions and have established business and financial training linkages. Eventhough our female literacy rate is very hopeless, however in some of the villages Women in Sierra Leone are at a higher illiteracy and poverty rate than men. That has not impacted our trainings which are conducted in the local languages. Like most African women on the continent, Sierra Leonean women are more hardworking than men. As a result, skill building measures need to be established, or we can enhance existing ones in order to improve on effectiveness of their marginal levels of livelihood practices. At People’s Foundation for Humanity Development, our Gender Training Program, WIMI includes holistic trainings which impact spiritual, behavioral and attitudinal changes. In empowering our women groups, we conduct Business trainings including Financial Literacy, Money Management and Small Enterprise Empowerment. We also conduct Leadership trainings to enable them to actively participate in decision making processes at their own community levels. We have proven over and again that the above trainings bring about lasting impact on target beneficiaries way beyond any project implementation. Some examples I’ve been involved in, include the WIMI Small Scale Empowerment Projects at WIMI Bo, WIMI Funkia, WIMI Angola Town in Freetown and the Engineers Without Borders Water (EWB) , Sanitation and Solar project at Centennial Secondary School, Mattru Jong. Prior to implementation of these projects, the communities were mobilized, engaged, sensitized and involved. All of them were very successful with very minimal challenges.
All of these projects have significantly, holistically and positively affected the lives of the respective communities. Those that were income generation activities created self-employability and livelihood security such as the fishmongers of Funkia and petty traders of Bo. The EWB project at Centennial Secondary School has impacted other surrounding schools who also utilize the solar light, the surrounding communities also use the campus water after school hours thereby impacted even their health from drinking treated water which has greatly impacted water-borned disease in the community.
For Sierra Leone, as a whole, these Self-Help Groups could be replicated in various areas of the country thereby impacted the socio-changes brought in by trainings prior to empowerment projects, in terms of livelihood practices, which will have lasting impact on the target beneficiaries even beyond the project period. Sierra Leone’s quest for Human Capital Development is not only through formal education but non-formal trainings, livelihood security, job opportunities which will strengthen income generation opportunities through capacity building support nationwide. It is expected that the beneficiaries will continue the livelihood practices, which directly contribute to increased family economy, which directly has the potential of positively impacting the esteemed Human Capital Development.
Dr. Lauretta Will Sillah, CEO/Founder of People’s Foundation for Humanity Development (PeFoHD) provides Executive Leadership and Strategic Vision of PeFoHD. She has participated in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 conferences at the United Nation’s High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals in New York. For 21 years, through her charity and missionary team initiatives, Dr. Sillah has pioneered a Water, Sanitation and Solar Light with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) at her alma mater – Centennial Secondary School, Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone as well as several Women Group projects through the Women In Ministry International (WIMI) Training programs. She has collected and donated over a million-dollar worth of emergency relief supplies and educational materials to higher institutions including University of Sierra Leone, Njala University, IAMTECH, orphanages, victims of disasters, primary and secondary academic institutions in Sierra Leone in relief efforts during Post-war, Post Ebola, Post Flooding and Post Landslide disasters. An ordained Minister at Fresh Anointing House of Worship, USA, Dr. Sillah is married with 4 grown sons, 4 granddaughters and 4 adopted children
International Scholars Raise Concerns over “an Attempt to Destroy a New Religious Movement” in South Korea
On July 20, a webinar on a new religious movement in South Korea and its political, religious, and social dimensions with the recent COVID-19 crisis invited international scholars and experts in the field of religion, international law, and human rights.
Titled “COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea”, the webinar addressed the recent issues of aggressive attack from politically powerful conservative and fundamentalist Protestant churches in the country on a newly-established, fast-growing Christian denomination named 'Shincheonji (New Heaven and New Earth) Church of Jesus' founded in 1984.
The new Christian movement by Shincheonji has become a target of “persecution from fundamentalist protestants” because of its successful religious expansion “from the conservative and fundamentalist protestants who see Shincheonji as competitors and want to destroy it," said Massimo Introvigne as an Italian sociologist of religion who studied Shincheonji before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and published the first account of the religious group in English.
Alessandro Amicarelli, Chairman European Federation for Freedom of Belief, pointed out that the South Korean authorities problematized Shincheonji as a cause of the COVID-19 crisis to shut down the church. “Already 30 other people were tested positive before the patient 31 (a member of Shincheonji criticized for the widespread of the virus). Many Chinese including ones from Wuhan had visited Daegu (of South Korea) and infection spread,” he said.
Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), said that the recent attack on Shincheonji can be viewed as an attempt by the fundamentalist Protestant groups in South Korea to weaken and destroy the competitor in the religious market. He added, "Human rights violations against Shincheonji members through coercive conversion program (also known as 'deprogramming') with kidnapping and confinement for the last decade have been made as a result of the failure of competition from the Protestant churches in the country."
Ciaran Burke, Associate Professor in University of Derby, said that the South Korean health authorities explicitly link Shinchoenji and outbreak of the COVID-19 until now even though a greater link between the virus and confirmation cases has been found in other churches. He also expressed concerns over “collecting personal information of 300,000 domestic and international Shincheonji members by the government which is a possible violation of international agreement, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) South Korea ratified in 1990.”
The prosecution initiated investigation of Shincheonji leaders including founder Man Hee Lee for his alleged role in the widespread of the COVID-19. Three Shincheonji officials were arrested on July 8 on a charge of playing a role in major outbreak at its early stage by “(submitting) inaccurate list of members.”
“The authorities ignored requests to change the word ‘sect’ in their official reports when referring to Shincheonji church. Local governments encouraged the residents to report Shincheonji congregation and facilities to the authorities, creating stigma that the members were to be treated as criminals,” said a Shincheonji official in the webinar.
A recent statement issued by “families of the deceased and victims of COVID-19” wrote that "the thousands of the damage and deaths of Koreans reflect the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government." It added that the Minister of Justice Choo Mi-ae “allowed COVID-19 patients from China to enter Korea, leading to a widespread outbreak of the virus across the country, which resulted in the deaths of the Korean people.” It also stated that she is trying to avoid her responsibility for the damage by “giving direct orders to prosecutors for a raid and arrests against Shincheonji Church”.
A leading South Korean TV network, MBC reported that a recently conducted screening at Daegu, epicenter of COVID-19 major outbreak within South Korea added the weight to the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government. The report, citing analysis from a local university hospital, inferred that at least 180,000 of the total population of 2.4 million people in the city of Daegu were infected with the COVID-19, 27 times to the official 6,800 confirmed cases. Most of the confirmation cases, over 5,000, are members of Shincheonji Church as their personal information was collected by the government, while the remaining 180,000 potential infections have not been investigated.