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. 

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.

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.

 

AUTHOR:

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

 

Sierra Leone Specialist Psychiatrist and Psychiatrist in Charge/Hospital Care Manager at the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Abdul Jalloh, has on Wednesday 7 October 2020, during an exclusive interview with this writer spoke about the importance of World Mental Health Day, and further emphasized on the need for more investment into mental healthcare issues in Sierra Leone.

Mental Health Day is celebrated every year since 1992 on 10 Octoberglobally. This year 2020, the celebration is taking place under its distinguished theme: “Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access.”

 Speaking on the relevance of the theme in line with happenings in Sierra Leone, Dr Jalloh first recalled that on Thursday 4 June 2020, His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio at the commissioning of the renovated Sierra Leone Psychiatric Teaching Hospital Complex had committed that mental health intervention is within his government’s overarching “human capital development priority.”

 In the words of the President, it was stated that “our country has been bludgeoned over the last three decades by traumatic event after traumatic event – from the bloody violence and chaos of the civil war, to catastrophic natural disasters like the mudslide and flooding, through the Ebola virus disease epidemic, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.”Hence, President Bio is quoted to have said “we recognize that as a nation, we must act now. We must invest heavily in mental healthcare.”

 During the interview, Dr Jalloh said previously there was complete neglect in the investment on mental healthcare not only in Sierra Leone but also globally. He said so far, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, has over the past two (2) years with support from Partners In Health (PIH) made significant progress in face-lifting the Psychiatric Hospital in the country. He said the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Teaching Hospital had undergone a lot of infrastructural development such as improved toilet system, renovated wards with new beds and mattresses. He further mentioned the current upgradedlighting system, fans for ventilation and plasma televisions installed in their various buildings. He confirmed that they also now have a modernized lecture hall with a semi conference room and a library together with other improvements like a completed Laboratory building, Recreational Centre (Occupational Therapy Unit) equipped with sewing machines, musical instruments, and various indoor games, and a basketball and hand tennis courts for staff and patients.

 However, whilst dilating on the need for more investment on mental healthcare in Sierra Leone, Dr Abdul Jalloh said before now, investment in health care was minimal. He further stated that, after the visit of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, there is a thirty-five (35%) increase in patients flow to the hospital.

Also, Dr Jalloh Spoke about COVID 19 pandemic effects on Sierra Leone mental healthcare. He said “in the event of an infectious disease outbreak, such as Coronavirus, everyone reacts differently to such stressful situations,” adding that “the kernels of misinformation during an outbreak made people feed on uncertainty, grow in doubt and then reactsin the form of individual or mass panic especially during measures to limit and control the spread of the disease.”

Dr Jalloh furthered that social distancing, quarantine and isolation are measures used by the government to limit the potential of this highly contagious disease to spread but also the health issues relating to frontline workers must be in thorough consideration.

Sierra Leone Specialist Psychiatrist spoke about the importance of World Mental Health Day. He said the general aims of the day since 1992 were to promote mental health advocacy and to educate the public on relevant mental healthcare issues. He added that as the World Mental Health Day is celebrated globally on the 10 October; he is calling for the urgent redress and greater investment in mental health – a call which can no longer be ignored.

Dr Jalloh concluded Sierra Leone would have had a very big celebration to mark the 200th years Anniversary of the Psychiatric Hospital in the country. However, due to the current COVID19 pandemic, that could not hold. Notwithstanding, he is calling on Sierra Leoneans to record a one (1) minute video of themselves or in a group in a physical exercise with a complementary message of calling for greater investment in Sierra Leone mental healthcare and post to various social media platform. This will serve as a way of commemorating the World Mental Health Day in the country.

 Meanwhile, on her remarks before the celebration of World Mental Health Day, Dr Ingrid Daniels, President of WFMH says that “now more than ever greater investment in mental health is needed to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to mental health care. The under-investment in mental health has left large treatment gaps globally,” concluding that the “World Mental Health Day is simply not a one-day event and provides us with the opportunity and advantage to hold the attention of governments, donors, policy-makers and all stakeholders to ensure action for greater investment in mental health. Let us hold hands and unify our voices in moving the mental health investment agenda for increased focus and access to mental health and thereby making mental health a reality for all – everyone, everywhere.”

In a recent development, Sierra Leone’s  Ambassador to the United States of America, His Excellency Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai organised  a team of experts to commence feasibility study of First Lady’s Medical Centre in Sierra Leone.

Freetown: 25 June 2019 - The Government of Japan has approved a supplementary budget of US$1.5million to improve the coverage of critical Severe and Acute Malnutrition treatment services and thereby reduce child mortality in Sierra Leone.  

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Chairman of the just concluded Sierra Leone Premier League, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai has highlighted successes scored by the Premier League Board (PLB) during the last season Sierra Leone Premier League.

Mustapha Bundu says the Craig Bellamy academy in Sierra Leone was key to his football development.

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Obituaries

Friday, August 21st 2019 marks a year of the passing of Hadja Hawa Khadar Daramy, wife of Late Honourable Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy (First Financial Secretary of Sierra Leone) and Member of Parliament of Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).  Hadja Hawa was born 1st December 1922 to Sowoi Mariama Fortune and Alhaji Ali Khadar.
 
Hadja Hawa Khadar Daramy hails from Mongeray, Kpaka, Pujehun where her mother was born.  Oh! how she just loved Mongeray.   Her father was born in Helba, North Lebanon.
 
Hadja Hawa Khadar Daramy passed away at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday 21st August
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With gratitude to God for a life well lived

Obituary for the late Evelyn Lauretta Idowu-Davies
Sunrise:11 February 1925
Sunset : 10 March 2019
Aged 94
Funeral & Communion service : Friday 22 March at the Ebenezer Methodist Church Murray Town at 2:30
From the Children and grandchildren at home and abroad.

17th March 2019, marks the 20th Anniversary of the passing away of HONORABLE, DR. SHEIKH BATU DARAMY SR, aka, SB Daramy.  Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy, Sr. B.Sc (Economics from London School of Economics, UK), M.A., Ph.D from Howard University, was born on 20th September, 1920 in Makeni.  Today we remember one of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) oldest members.  In 1948, Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy was awarded a Sierra Leone Government scholarship to attend the London School of Economics from where he graduated in 1952 with a B.Sc in Economics. ...

The death is announced of Mr. Fuad Din Gabisi age 84 years whose sad event took place today Monday 12th November, 2018. He is survived by his wife Balkisu Din Gabisi of 3 Ingham Street Fourah Bay Community, Freetown. Sisters: Haja Bola Deen (Late) and Ola Din-Gabisi (UK)
Children: Mrs. Christiana Bultman-Sulaiman of the USA
Mr. Sulay Din Gabisi of USA
Miss Zainab Din Gabisi of Freetown
Mr. Aziz Din Gabisi of Freetown
Mr. Dyfu Din Gabisi of USA
Grandchildren
Miss Blanche Bultman of USA
Mr. Fuad Din Gabisi ...

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