Announcing Project Sierra Leone

Global Playground is coming to West Africa!  Global Playground is pleased to announce its latest project: six classrooms, a library, and two teacher offices in Bo District, Sierra Leone at Bandajuma Primary School. The project is slated to be complete in March 2018.

Over three years ago, the community of Bandajuma committed to building a school in order to increase youth access to education.  Bandajuma is a rural, farming village and the closest educational facility was many miles away.  The Village Development Committee built a three-room school using sand, rocks, mud, and sticks in 2014.

By 2016, the school’s foundation had begun to significantly wither away and Bandajuma village began seeking a partner to build a facility that would better meet the needs of the village’s growing school-age population.  Bandajuma Primary School currently serves 280 students from grades 1-6 who share the three school classrooms in shifts.

Global Playground launched its partnership with Village Care Initiatives Sierra Leone and Bandajuma village in December 2017.  When the news about the partnership with Global Playground broke, Mariama Salia, a parent of two children who attend Bandajuma Primary School, couldn’t contain her excitement. “I’m happy [that] my two children and others will soon be learning in a new school structure with new classrooms, equipped with new tables, chairs and desks for the children to learn,” she said.

Teacher Tucker, one of the three teachers in Bandajuma and an officer in the Village Development Committee, jumped when he heard the news and shared that the people of Bandajuma “will remain grateful for the new school building and [that the community] cannot wait to see our children in a safe, warming environment.”  Tucker and several community members are now working to lobby the local government for more teachers for Bandajuma Primary School.  With the promise of new infrastructure, the possibility for growth in Bandajuma village has increased exponentially.

When a team of Global Playground representatives visited Bandajuma Primary School in July 2017, they were able to see the structure and meet with community members to discuss their needs.  Former Global Playground Executive Director and Vice Chair of the Board, Edward Branagan noted, “During our visit, we were able to see firsthand how Village Care Initiative Sierra Leone (VCISL) employs human development practices that build on existing local governance structures. Through communal meetings, partnerships with local government, and follow-up visits, they help empower community leaders and members, including both men, women, and children, to organize, prioritize, and realize small scale, but important rural development initiatives.”

Bandajuma village members have contributed local materials such as rocks, sand, and sticks and assembled a team of laborers and volunteers for the build.  Since Global Playground’s visit, they have appealed to the government to receive additional teachers, partnered with VCISL to start a Functional Adult Literacy Program (FALP), expanded the school garden, and built a school kitchen.  Executive Director Kendall Lorenzen shares, “Global Playground is proud to partner with Bandajuma–a community that can truly take ownership of the new facility.  They and VCISL have tirelessly advocated for their school-age population.  Global Playground is proud to partner with Bandajuma to realize the scale of their dreams and build a school that will increase opportunity for the whole of the village.”

Branagan reflected that this new partnership serves as “a fecund ground to further explore how we can facilitate mutual learning between cultures.”

For more information, check out the Global Playground Sierra Leone project page here.

Hannah Bunting