OWL Welcomes Harold Tucker, Mayor of Bo.
Since being elected Mayor of Bo at the beginning of 2013 Harold Tucker has continued to promote the close relationship between Bo and Warwick districts. OWL hosted him for a two–week programme in October and November 2013 with visits to schools, council facilities, youth activities and many more. He met the mayors of Warwick District, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Kenilworth.
In addition to the long–established activities of the link, including the expanded waste–management programme, he is keen to promote cooperation with the Fire and Rescue Service and services for children with disabilities and for the aged.
At OWL’s AGM, Harold spoke warmly of the 30–year relationship between our communities, describing it as not just a link but a partnership. He responded frankly to questions about local government facilities and finance in Bo.
In a reflection on his visit he wrote “It is such a difficult task describing how sad I am to be leaving very kind people like you. But, at least I’m glad that I’m lucky enough to have accomplished something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Read his report...
Maternity link with Sierra Leone
“Sierra Leone is one of the worst places in the world to have a baby. Women have a 1:8 chance of dying as a direct result. We feel it is our responsibility, as world leaders in Health Care, to share our knowledge and skills to improve these statistics.”
The Alexandra Hospital (Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust) has formed a Maternity Health Link with the Lumley Government Hospital in Freetown. The aim of the Link is to improve the maternity services offered in that hospital by providing on–going training and support to the staff working there. Read more about their link.
Warwickshire teachers visit to Sierra Leone
Five teachers from primary schools in Leamington and Warwick flew to Sierra Leone as part of an exchange programme (British Council's ‘Connecting Classrooms’) which fosters global education and develops links with African schools and their pupils.
The teachers set off for a 10–day trip to Bo, Sierra Leone's second largest city, which has a population of more than 230,000 people. The city has strong ties with Leamington and Warwick through One World Link (OWL).
Local school pupils worked on their collaborative Foods and Farming projects, which the teachers will be continuing to implement alongside colleagues at their partner schools in Africa.
OWL Community Building
Bo OWL' Community Building is a joint venture between the groups in Bo and Warwick districts with guest rooms, function hall and computer training centre.
The One World Link between Warwick and Bo Districts has always been a friendship link which specifically avoided the inclusion of AID. This is still the case after more than 30 years. So how come that there is a great big community centre in Bo paid for mainly by Warwick District citizens? The answer is that one exchanges GIFTS with one's friends and that is what the centre is.. a great big gift. This gift was given to make up for the destruction and agony of the 10 year civil war borne by Bo friends, and to alleviate the frustration and misery and fear felt by Warwick friends because there was so little they could contribute to suffering friends during that time (1990s).
Bo OWL said they needed a community centre to be a concrete symbol of the strong relationships which had built up between the 2 areas and it would be used to support skills training and community building to contribute to peace in the future. Watching the centre grow and become functional has brought equal satisfaction and excitement to both Warwick and Bo.
The computer literacy centre was equipped with donated laptops thanks to the efforts of VSO volunteer, Paul Fish. He reports that there is a steady flow of eager students from local secondary schools and from the local Njala University. Read more in Paul's blog.
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OWL Youth Group welcomes visitors from Bo
Four members of the One World Link Youth Group in Bo, Sierra Leone, visited us for two weeks in July. This followed the very succesful trip of 10 Warwick District young people to Bo last year.
This return visit included community work with homeless young people, visits to local link schools, a trip to Parliament to see our MP, as well as a social trip away with British youth group members to the Wye Valley. The video below captures the spirit of the two visits.
The Sierra Leonean visitors recorded their impressions of their visit to the UK – the things and sounds that surprised and interested them:
There are many opportunities for people of all ages to get involved with activities with our friends from Bo. If you are interested in getting involved, we are always especially keen on new interested young people, please get in touch with Catherine, our Youth Coordinator – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Newsblog - a news digest for Sierra Leone is launched
One World Link has launched ‘Newsblog’, an upgraded digest of news about Sierra Leone scoured from the African press. John Yates, the OWL volunteer who gathers all the news items, intends the digest to be a service for anyone with an interest in Sierra Leone.
John worked with web developer Richard Proffitt to create the new dedicated pages with abstracts and links to the original articles that cover everything from education to economics and sport to sustainability. See the Newsblog
What is Good Aid?
In the second of a series of occasional talks organised by OWL, we welcomed back as guest speaker Mark Poston of DIFD, accompanied this time by Professor Paul Jackson from Birmingham University. Their themes were wide ranging – What is Good Aid? Aspects of Decentralisation, and Post Conflict Development, including Chinese involvement in Africa.
OWL supports waste management in Bo
Bo City Council is at last able to make a start at providing a full waste management service.
Since the civil war, market traders, shops and businesses have gathered their rubbish in large heaps which the council removes with its two serviceable vehicles. They have been unable to use their landfill site because they did not have a digger to manage it. In the centre of Bo an enormous hill of rubbish accumulated over the years and needs to be removed (see the picture below). Families, meanwhile, dispose of their rubbish by either burying or burning it at home.
Bo Council, with technical support from OWL Local Authority Group, are now able to start solving the problem. UNDP are providing rubbish skips, skip lorries, a digger and other equipment to Bo and to another city, Makeni, for a pilot project. Bo's digger has started work and the remaining equipment is due later this year. Managers, operators and mechanics are receiving training from officers from Warwickshire County Council amongst others.
There is also a programme for community leaders so that they can drive a public campaign for the use of the new system. This support is funded by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum. Bo OWL will be members of the management committee, so the involvement of One World Link will continue as the service becomes established and the problems of waste are eased.
Day of the African ChildNearly five hundred children sang their hearts out and danced energetically to the sound of a drum providing a rousing end to the Day of the African Child. The day also included African drumming, story–telling, sports, Action Aid and a grand parade with banners and flags held high. It was hosted by Telford Infants School and organised by OWL's education team led by Liz Garrett. The The three visiting teachers from linked schools in Bo and other guests were clearly impressed – in fact the Mayor asked if he could come again next year!
Waste Management Team plan the next stage in Bo
Following the success of the waste management pilot project in Bo, Glenn Fleet of Warwickshire County Council reports on his return visit to help Bo City Council plan the next stage of waste management.
“In June of this year Derek Greedy and I had a further opportunity to visit Bo for a week to evaluate the usage of the council present landfill sites. We had been asked to look at the two sites that are presently used and have the potential for disposing of Bo City’s waste. The UK Government are paying for this project and are using an NGO called Welt Hungerhilfe and we are supporting them.
“Another part to the project is supporting small business develop in using recyclable materials. A number businesses applied for support. The support covered small amount for tools, but mainly skills base learning in Marketing and Developing the business. The photograph shows you one of the winning business that make bags out of water bags, that keep the inter bag dry.” Read more ...
The first digital map of Bo City; A 5–way collaboration
OWL's Local Authority group are now working with the Mayor of Bo, Wusu Sannoh, establish a planning system in the city, but first they need an up–to–date plan. John Archer, a planning specialist, visited Bo and soon found himself working with a group at Mercy Hospital who are developing the first digital maps of the city using technology provided by a fourth partner, the US Navy.
The data were then brought to the UK by Rashid Ansumana, Director of Research of the Mercy Hospital team, and the Warwickshire Observatory team demonstrated how the resulting digital maps can be used. They have produced an interactive map which you can download – try turning on and off different layers to reveal and hide details. Read John's report.
This story has a happy prequel; Rashid remembers fondly the OWL link between his primary school (St Francis, Bo) and a school in Warwick district. This must be the ultimate OWL feel–good story!
How to donate to OWL without paying!
Buy goods online and a percentage is donated to OWL – very simple.
Loads of Links
We have added lots of new links relating to Sierra Leone about diamonds, football, art, culture, tourism, schools and more. See the Contacts & Links page
Teaching about Development?
Looking for information about school links, educational resources and teaching materials? Visit our Education pages
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