Today the team and I had the honor and privilege to set out to visit the children that we advocate for and their beautiful families. The families we visited found in and around the city of Bo. The team members included in this trip were Misti, Melissa, Brent, Alex, Ellen, and Tom. We took three vehicles and had Henry, the Family Empowerment Advocate in Sierra Leone, as our experienced navigator. We each had gifts, which included a bag of rice, for our families. As we traveled around Bo, it was heartwarming to see each advocate meet with the children and their families. During each stop, the team was greeted with smiles and warm welcomes.
The last stop that we had in Bo was a visit with Mabinity and her family. Mabinity is the young lady my husband, Graham, and I are advocates for. Graham and I began sponsoring Mabinity last year after the previous child we sponsored graduated from the program. Within this partnership, we pray for Mabinity and her family, support her schooling, and write letters back and forth with her. We also send pictures. At home, there is a picture of Mabinity hanging up so that my husband and I remember to pray for her each day. Despite looking at the photo daily, when we arrived at Mabinity’s home, I did not recognize the young woman who greeted us. Upon arrival there was a young lady brushing the hair of a younger girl. I greeted the girls as Henry pointed to the older girl and said something like “Janie, do you recognize who this is?” I then realized it was Mabinity! She is no longer the little girl in the picture I have, but instead a young woman. Mabinity and I looked at each other and then hugged tightly. I think Mabinity and I were both speechless at first. I could not believe that I was really meeting her in person.
Mabinity quickly gathered her sisters and gave the team chairs to sit in. She pulled up a stool and we sat close together. She told me that she would be taking an exam soon for school that determines if she can move up to the next level. She also introduced me to her family dog, Biggie. After chatting for a few minutes, we stood up to take several pictures, or as they say here in Sierra Leone, “snaps.” Included in them were Mabinity, her sisters, me, and of course Biggie. I promised Mabinity that when I get home, I will write to her and send her some of the snaps we took together. She then held my hand as she walked me and the team back to our vehicles. Though our time ended quickly, I must say it was one of my favorite parts of this visit to Sierra Leone.
Mabinity and her family are one of the many families who have gone to the Child Reintegration Centre to apply for assistance. In America, they would go to social services and the government would meet that need. In Sierra Leone, we have the unique ability to be part of meeting that need. Though we may not feel like we live in abundance, the small portion that we donate each month allows families in Sierra Leone who apply for the assistance to improve their quality of life. I am thankful for the provision that God has given us to be able to help those in need. To see the impact of that help firsthand is not only a blessing for the family included in this program, but for me as well. If you have never thought about partnering with Helping Children Worldwide to advocate for a child and their family, I am here to tell you firsthand that the impact of being a Family Empowerment Advocate is greatly significant. After this experience of meeting Mabinity and her family, I urge you to pray and consider joining the Family Empowerment program through Helping Children Worldwide.
If you are interested in becoming an advocate for families in Sierra Leone, check our our website or email Munda@helpingchildrenworldwide.org
Teachers Learning Collaborative, Phase 3, Trainer-of-Trainers Professional Development
A post by Sharon Gardner:
Today, Janie Williams, Melissa Herbolsheimer, and I conducted day two of our three-day collaboration with thirteen Sierra Leonean teacher-leaders. Together, we renewed our learning around a variety of topics including learning theories, strategies for reading comprehension, character education, guidance and counseling, conflict resolution, and the power of having a growth mindset. Along the way we shared with each other our teaching experiences, games we enjoy playing with students and with each other, celebrations and struggles we have as teachers, a great deal of laughter, and the comradery of colleagues. This collaborative is in its third year as a partnership between Sierra Leonean and U.S. teachers. During this time, we have worked together to develop a professional learning curriculum, guided by the thoughts and experiences of our Sierra Leonean teacher-leaders so that they can provide meaningful learning for their Sierra Leonean colleagues. As always, it was a day filled with respect and friendship, and admiration for the work of our Sierra Leonean partners.