Teaching Me to Fish – in Sierra Leone

Water is Life

Our philosophy here at Christian Relief Services emphasizes connecting resources around the world in order to support communities as they struggle to help themselves. This is especially exemplified by the work of our project, Bread and Water for Africa, which builds partnerships with grassroots efforts throughout Africa to create sustainable and deep-rooted change.

If you’ve been a long time supporter of our organization, you know we regularly send medical supplies to our partners in Sierra Leone, but our partnership dates back many years to their initial efforts at rebuilding the infrastructure of their country through skills training, education, and healthcare projects. Read a firsthand testimonial from one of the beneficiaries of the Ndegbormei Development Organisation’s skills training program. He is a true example of a life transformation and the benefits of ‘teaching one to fish’.

I was pleased when our project coordinator asked me to give my first hand impression of the Bread and Water for Africa funded Training Center in Bumpe.

I am twenty-six years of age, a drop-out from Bumpe High School, a former rebel (Revolutionary United Front) activist, now a returnee and apparent misfit and drifter until James Ganda, Mama Decker, and Ndegbormei Development Organisation started to invest in my life with the Training programme at the medical site in Bumpe.

You know, life as drifter has its ups and downs. And in a typical rural setting like Bumpe, life could be more down than up. My situation as a former rebel is not only repulsive to my family and close relatives, but is barely painfully acceptable to our community as a necessary evil with regard to our Truth and Reconciliation Committee recommendations.”

Before I join the rebel movement, I was a “Pupil Teacher”, an “unqualified, untrained” (UU) teacher in one of the many rural primary schools (No District Education Primary School, Bumpe Ngao Chiefdom). Within a few short months and after killings began, I became a self-proclaimed Captain.

When the war ended officially in January 2002, I had sneaked back in to my village Mowoto, after helping my RUF friends start fires in Freetown – the capital of Sierra Leone. Do I now regret the act? YES, I do on hindsight because at the time I was living on drugs and with bad influences.

This is all history now, as I have been enrolled in the Ndegbormei Development Organisation Skills Training programme at Bumpe. It is a slow beginning but I can look forward to being a carpenter soon, building houses, instead of burning them down; providing a job for others my age instead of causing havoc.

NDO and Bread and Water for Africa are teaching me to fish, and I am determined to apply myself wholeheartedly.