My name is Tim Mansel and last year I worked for three months in Sierra Leone. While I was there I met the inspirational Miriam Mason-Sesay, who runs an educational charity for vulnerable children. It’s called EducAid and at the time they were offering free education to 3,000 kids in nine different schools.
That was just before Ebola swept in, the government declared a state of emergency and all schools, including EducAid’s, had to close.
They’re up and running again now – and back up to 2,500 kids - but Sierra Leone is about as poor a country as you’re likely to encounter and getting hold of the essentials to run a bunch of schools is not easy. Good teaching materials are particularly difficult to find, and Miriam is determined that her kids should have proper books. One thing she thinks they need is a well-written and interesting encyclopaedia with good illustrations.
Miriam told me: “Access to general knowledge is taken for granted in the West but in a country like Sierra Leone, poverty of information is another part of the day to day poverty children live with.
“We really need books like this because they are a fantastic resource that encourage children to read for themselves, enquire and be excited by discovering the world around them.”
So I got in touch with Usborne Books in the UK and the generous people there have offered to supply 100 copies of their Children’s Encyclopaedia to EducAid at a massive 60 per cent discount. Now I need to raise £799 plus a few pennies to buy the books for the kids in Sierra Leone.
Any help you can offer in meeting this target will be gratefully received by me, Miriam and, of course, the children themselves.