“99% of nurses do not know any clinic fan: how would they use it? Although here people die every day from much simpler things, and the real ‘viruses’ are corruption and poverty, which leave a trail of disease and hunger unthinkable in developed countries. “
Sister Adriana, director of the girls’ school that the Poor Clares Missionaries have in Lunsar (Sierra Leone), refers with these words to the health situation in that African country, where our charity organization, Fundación Maga, has been promoting education projects for more than 10 years.
The coronavirus has also reached Sierra Leone, and its effects add even more difficulties to all aspects of the population’s daily life. Education, which is key to improving the material conditions and future expectations of the youngest, has been particularly affected. A few weeks ago, the schools were closed and children remain in their homes, which may increase the risk of dropping out of school for many of them.
In the case of the Lunsar girls’ school, the nuns and the rest of the teaching team have adapted quickly to guarantee a certain educational continuity.
The students come to the center once a week to collect the materials prepared by the teaching team.
The role of Fundación Maga
From our organization we have also had to reorient some actions. Just before the Covid-19 epidemic spread, we were starting the new science lab. In the near future we will resume the project, but for now we are allocating resources to more urgent aspects, such as the purchase of all kinds of school supplies.
Like the rest of the educational community, we wish and work for a speedy return to normality, which for students consists of having a suitable and safe environment, equipped with everything necessary for education but also with other types of spaces, such as the dining rooms and bathrooms that we have contributed to build in the last years.
The past experience with Ebola
A few years ago Sierra Leone was fully affected by the Ebola epidemic, with devastating consequences. Months ago Sister Adriana told us how Ebola affected education and Sierra Leonean families:
“With the suspension of classes in 2014, the government tried to follow the program on the radio, but without success. The children were forced to go to the streets and to the fields to help their parents. The whole country stopped, worsening an already precarious economic situation. Some girls got involved in prostitution to get something to take home. When the schools reopened, many did not return. Some died of everything except Ebola, others became pregnant …
I still have a hard time talking about it. At that time the need to help affected families passed by. The entire population was afraid and uncertainty was breathed in the environment, people expected us to leave the country as did mine workers and many NGOs. The children asked “Sista u dego?” (“Sister, are you leaving?”). We couldn’t leave them, we were in this together. Without realizing it, staying in the country made us a sign of hope, gave them confidence.
Ebola hurt their culture. Sierra Leoneans are hospitable and suddenly found themselves in an adverse environment and lack of confidence in each other: nobody was safe!
Thanks to God and the generosity of the people we were able to assist the affected families with food and other necessary things. But above all it was a time of presence. And the music played again, the schools became full of color again. “
We hope that joy will once again return to the classrooms of Sierra Leone.
* Fundación Maga projects in Sierra Leone and Cambodia are funded by the sale of Maga brand wine, produced by Muriel Wines.