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Thames Valley News of Projects in Sierra Leone

SI THAMES VALLEY have been really lucky in recruiting two new soroptimists who are directly connected with Sierra Leone.  Many clubs will already know of Rosie Simbo who is a specialist midwife dealing with FGM and HIV/Aids mothers.  Rosie has also started a field project in her area, recruiting 50 women to plant seeds and grow much needed vegetables which they can feed their children and also sell.

Lori Spragg is a local Marlow lady who has already made a huge difference to the literacy chances of children in Sierra Leone.

This is Lori’s latest newsletter.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do and if you have any contacts with schools, libraries we would be delighted to collect any books you can deliver, either to our Fashion Party in Bourne End at Sat 11 Sept, our next club meeting on 21 Sept in Bourne End or to our next Regional Meeting at Lancaster Hall Hotel.

It has been a really hectic month.  Firstly thanks to a group of volunteers from our charity Codep who took the 3 Peaks challenge, we were able to pay for the first session of training for 100 teachers who are our Build on Books Literacy Coordinators.

  The 2 day course was conducted by the Sierra Leone Library Board on our behalf and was called Basic Librarianship.  The participants got an official certificate from the SLLB.
This was a really big deal for them.  They actually had an ‘opening ceremony’ attended by local dignitaries.   It was even televised.  The participants were encouraged to take their responsibilities for instilling a reading culture in their pupils very seriously.  The rebuilding of their Sierra Leone depends on the children learning to read and becoming educated.  Now that so many schools (98), have books thanks to people like you, some children (about 50,000) have a chance for future.
Every time I think about Haiti, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq I hope that in the next few years some one else will use our Build on Books model of building ‘literacy communities’ by equipping large numbers of school libraries with books and furniture and training Literacy Coordinators.  It may be easier to rebuild a school than it is to rebuild a reading culture when one is lost through destruction & poverty.
Last week was brilliant.  Brid Hayward and I went down to Wembley to help pack our most recent container filled with 1200 boxes of books, about 50 -60,000 books.  I have lost count I think it is the 5th container.  We loaded 650 boxes of books which came down from Liverpool and some brilliant cabinets that went with them.  Then we took the container to Business Moves Group in Reading and got the rest of the boxes.  We will know the exact total when they have been delivered to the 50 schools in Lunsar.
We know have to find a huge quantity of school furniture.  We used to get all the desks and chairs from schools that are being rebuilt in the Labour ‘schools for the future’ program.  That has been scrapped now so we are a bit unsure where our furniture is coming from.  What  really want is lots & lots of library shelving.
You may recall that in June I set up a small community library on Waterloo at the Youth Centre.  they call it the Mini-library.  It is just wonderful, the children are spending their days there reading while schools are closed for the monsoon season.  Little barefoot children sitting on the dirt floor reading our books.  It is lovely..    I put 20 blue plastic chairs on this container so they will have something to sit on very soon.  Thank you to those who donated £5 to send a chair.  I would like to raise a little money for that library to put a tiled floor in and to pay the librarians very small stipend.

West Wycombe community library are interested in twinning with the mini-library.

That is the Build on Books News.
There is also the Kori Development Project or Rosie’s Rice Farm.  A bumper peanut crop is coming in which means the beginning of the end for kwashiorkor for Taiama, at least.  We are going to need to build some storage for the seeds for next season planting.  The Rice crop is doing fine.  Rosie & I are talking about chickens next.  We have been given a good donation from Third World Aid a Marlow Women’s group that meet at St Peters.  Also I hear Rose has been asked to speak to a group of Marlow Mum’s which is wonderful, she is really excited.  We would welcome any donations made out to Rose Simbo and left at my house.
Also if you would like to hold a fundraiser for my work it would be appreciated.  I am going to Sierra Leone again in September and I hope to go to Waterloo, Lunsar & Taiama.  If I see something is needed for any of our projects I like to pay for it there and then.  I don’t earn any money so I can only pay for a few things here and there.
Donations can be made to Build on Books  and left at my house. Anyone fancy holding a coffee morning?
I am going on a desperately needed holiday next week so please hold on to any books until the start of school year.  After packing nearly 400 boxes, with the help of lots of Marlow Mums, I need a break.
Thank you all for giving me your books, they are on their way to Sierra Leone where they will be read & treasured.
Peace & Love
Lori Spragg