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Cape Community School

Freetown, Sierra Leone

June 2008: We hear that there is another renovation of the school "as if it's a new building."

Renovations 2007: The work was sponsored by the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL). A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on 30 June 2007 (see pdf with photos).A Grain of Change has no money for the project. We were unaware of it until a friend emailed us about the work in progress. Again, we are very pleased that something is getting done.

We thank the Arvada, Colorado (USA) high school class of 2006 for trying so hard to send packages to the school via regular post.. Unfortunately the packages never arrived. To send about one-half kilogram to Sierra Leone from Europe via DHL would cost 160 euros.

They killed this student's father and mother. The teacher has since died.*

In front of my eyes, they cut two hands of a girl, raped her, and then they cut the two legs and raped her again.

They raped my brother.

They raped my sister.

What happens during wars often is too horrible to show in films, without interesting perverts and dissuading others. The film Blood Diamond, for example, stays as close to the truth as was reasonably possible. If you want to know more about the worldwide problem of child soldiers and other awful realities of contemporary warfare, read the lengthy Amnesty International "reports." 2014 note: These lengthy reports are no longer available. Amnesty now appears to be hostile to humanitarian causes, in our opinion.

* (from the above left photo) The principal said that he doesn't know why the teacher, Mr. M. Basiru Thomas, died. At work he had seemed healthy all day long. Then late in the day he suddenly fell down and died. Even now frequent deaths of friends and relations (usually due to disease or accidents) is a normal part of life in Freetown.

Started during the war, most of the students are homeless, and from prostitutes. The children love their school and are enthusiastic about their teachers.

Moriba Ben Swaray, headmaster

Wooden shutters are needed to keep the floor dry during the rainy season. They prefer shutters to windows, for the air circulation.

- The teachers and administrators need enough money to live. Too often they go unpaid.
- The children need the education and basic necessities. Food regularly at lunchtime would help.
- A kitchen and a food budget would be an improvement for both teachers and students alike.

Rebels killed his father and brother, and they burned down the house.
She was shot in the leg during the war.

Learning tends to be by rote. With eight tiny ceilingless classrooms under one roof, noise echos everywhere. The teachers persevere with a fantastic energy. One teacher had written a poem on the blackboard, but he didn't know its author, because the book from which he copied it was decades old and lacked the cover and the first 30 pages.

I want to be a bank manager, because I like it so much.

I want to be the minister of finance.

He is dreaming of a laptop computer.

I want to be a musician.

I want to be a pilot and fly my teacher from one school to another.

I want to be a driver and drive my teacher from one school to another.

These three students would like to become president one day to stop poverty and hunger.

This is the only place to stay overnight. Up to 17 children sleep here. The room is only 5x3 meters (15x9 feet).
Sanitary conditions need attention.

Smoke from trash burning in a large dumpster wafts over to the school compound. A smaller trash dumpster in the other direction also burns from time to time.

Teachers are cooking their lunch here. They would like to build a tiny library on the site. Currently the books are kept in the principal's office in a small locker.

Often there are not enough chairs for the children. The smallest get the worst seats, or they sit on the floor.
A more basic, perhaps lifesaving, curriculum.

     Construction notes
- There is room for another small building on the grounds. A foundation, drainage, blocks, shutters, a roof, and finished walls. Buildings should be lockable and dry, but with plenty of airflow. The percentage of cement has to be higher, since the quality tends to be poor. Sand should not come from the sea (salt). Cinderblocks are  expensive, considering local wages. The quality of blocks can be questionable, but this should not be an issue for a one story building.

Earthen construction is another option, but the walls should be finished properly for sanitary reasons. More people could participate in the construction, if traditional earthen construction methods are used. It's basically the same as adobe construction. Bush sticks are a viable alternative to construction lumber.  If kept dry, these straight thick wood pieces, are sturdy enough. It requires a vehicle and people willing to go into the bush to cut them. Furthermore, these children, in their adult lives, probably will never be able to afford their own cinderblocks and cement. In Freetown they might not have the chance to learn traditional construction methods. Traditional construction requires more sweat and hard work and craftsmanship than money.