By Mohamed Massaquoi from Lungi
A leading Sierra Leonean organization in Holland, Sierra Leone Centre Union (SLCU), has again reactivated a multi-million Leones project meant for the construction of a vocational institute for residents of Lungi in Port Loko district, northern Sierra Leone and its environs for the promotion of quality education in that part of the country.
The construction work started in December 2008 after an assessment was carried out in the area to gather data on the number of Sierra Leoneans affected by the decade-long civil conflict.
The need for a vocational school for youth who do not have the opportunity to acquire formal education became prominent among other issues highlighted, thus SLCU mobilized resources for the project.
Many residents interviewed in Wasaya community agreed that the school is urgently needed in their community to support and improve skills training, agribusiness, tourism and culture, information and technology, among others.
SLCU president, Abubakarr Bangura, said in an interview from Holland that young people still face many challenges with seeming less attention to youth employment, capacity building, housing facility and vocational education, and that it was in response to these challenges that his organization has resolved to continue the project for the benefit of impoverished Sierra Leoneans whose parents cannot afford to send their children to higher educational institutions in other parts of the country.
He said they are mainly facilitating and mobilizing support for the country’s good, which is their major focus, adding that during the visit of President Koroma to Holland, a passionate appeal was made to him for support to complete the project in the interest of that community and the country as a whole.
“The Sierra Leone Central Union (SLCU) is an umbrella organization of 14 registered Sierra Leonean organizations in Netherlands. We support the integration of Sierra Leoneans in the Netherlands within the framework of the Dutch government policy and stimulate their active participation towards the development of Sierra Leone through open discussions, website, workshops, conferences, and newsletters.
“This is how we have been collaborating with our partners even in Sierra Leone. I know the Lungi community seriously wants the completion of this all important project, we will try our level best to meet their demands and that is why I am calling on all humanitarian organizations to give us the support for the completion of the project,” he said.
Former SLCU president, Mohamed T. Bangura, while addressing the Paramount Chief of Kaffu Bullom chiefdom Bai Shebora Sheba Gbereh III, other titular chiefs, land owners and youth, said the people of Wasaya village will greatly benefit as scholarships will be given to sons and daughters of land owning families who preferred education to money making, adding that the portion of land should have generated a lot of money for the families but because they have respect for education, they agreed to offer the land free.
“The support we are giving to this community comes from our contributions to the Union in Holland. We have different tribes and individual political believes in the Union but the most important thing is that we all think Sierra Leone and work in the interest of our beloved country.
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“This project has been long and overdue, this was as a result of some challenges along the way but this time we are determined to complete it so that our brothers and sisters will benefit,” he said.
He added: “We have asked the community in collaboration with the Closet Creation Social Development Organization and the Wasaya community to monitor the project. Building materials are now available and we have mobilized resources to kick-start this venture. I am sure all of us will work together for a successful completion of the Wasaya Vocational School.”
In his statement, P.C. Bai Shebora Sheba Gbereh III thanked SLCU members for their support to his chiefdom and called on different partners in the project to be united and to promote peace, stability and development in their community.
He said other communities might be interested in the project but the fact that his community was chosen by the Union to host the vocational institute clearly demonstrates that Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora have enormous respect and regard for traditional authorities and their people.
“We will continue to monitor the construction work because this project is not only for us but the future generation. I want to thank that land owning family to have made this sacrifice by giving the land on behalf of the community,” he concluded.