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Covid in Sierra Leone

The number of recorded cases of Covid 19 in Sierra Leone has thankfully remained low. Current figures record a total of 6396 cases and 121 deaths in a population of 8m. However, the testing and tracking infrastructure in Sierra Leone is limited, which means the actual case numbers may be considerably higher.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also advise potential travellers to Sierra Leone to be aware that even basic medical services can be very difficult to access, particularly in villages and remote areas.

Our Connexion Minister, Magnus Bendu, has described ways in which the pandemic has affected Sierra Leone.

He recalls that when the virus first arrived, the whole country was gripped with panic following the memory of the earlier and deadly spread of Ebola in 2014. When news reports started to pour in of how quickly the virus was spreading and taking lives in Italy, Spain and the UK, this provided a stark and frightening reminder of how weak the medical system is in Sierra Leone.

The social and economic impact on the nation has been significant, despite the low infection and death rates from the virus. Prices of basic commodities and food have risen exponentially due to the nation’s dependence on imports, and the restriction of movement and normal activities has presented a further threat to an already weak economy. A large percentage of people in Sierra Leone have extremely low incomes and live hand-to-mouth in order to survive. 

Opposition to restrictions of movement and mask wearing were further exacerbated by a prevalent and ongoing mistrust of any Government in power, plus the disbelief by many people of the existence of the virus. 

A vaccination programme has begun in Sierra Leone, but the number of people who have received, or will be able to receive the inoculation, is small. 4% of the population have so far received one or more dose, and just 1.4% have been fully vaccinated.

(Magnus’ full report can be read in the autumn edition of The Voice)

Donate

To make a donation to help support our communities in Sierra Leone, click on the Donations button at the top of the website page. If you would like your donation to go to a particular project, eg the new Health Centre, please state.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer 

Barclays Bank
Sort code: 20-16-08, Account number: 30799076, Account name: Sierra Leone Mission 

Or send a cheque

To: Sierra Leone Mission. Postal address: Janet Foord, 2 Cheyne Close, Church Milton, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 2SQ 

Thanks for Donations!

In August we posted an article giving an update on progression of the new Health Centre in Brama, Sierra Leone, with an estimate from Magnus that a further £27,000 would be needed to complete the building work.

Following this, we were enormously thankful to receive an anonymous donation for £10,000. This was immediately sent to Magnus to enable him to purchase more building materials and continue with the construction. This week, we are even more delighted to announce the receipt of £17,000 from another anonymous donor!

Praise the Lord Almighty!

Once completed the Health Centre and patient wards will be able to serve communities from 35 villages in the local vicinity. Trained staff will work in the clinic and also support communities in the villages, helping them to improve general hygiene and implementing vaccination programmes. They will also be able to provide post-natal health care for mothers and their babies. 

There is a serious need for available health facilities in Sierra Leone and this centre will primarily serve children, babies and mothers. 

Sierra Leone Health Facts

  • The child and infant mortality rate in England and Wales in 2018 was 3.8 per 1,000. In Sierra Leone it was 78 per 1,000. 
  • Between January and March 2020 in Freetown alone there were 581 maternal deaths. 
  • Maternal deaths account for 36% of all deaths amongst women aged 15 - 49 years. 
  • Sierra Leone is the most dangerous place in the world to be pregnant. 
  • There are only 245 doctors in Sierra Leone serving 7 million people. 
  • 1 in 17 women won’t survive pregnancy or delivery. 
  • 60% of population live below the poverty line. 
  • 1 in 3 people do not have access to clean water. 
  • 3 in 5 people live in rural areas. 
  • MOST deaths could be prevented! 

Prices for building materials are continuing to rise in Sierra Leone – as they are globally. In light of this, we hesitate to confirm that these remarkable donations for £27,000 will be enough to fund the entire construction. There are likely to be hidden costs as well as further price increases.

Our prayers and huge thanks go to those who have so generously contributed to this important project, which will transform so many lives!

Donate

To make a donation to help support our communities in Sierra Leone, click on the Donations button at the top of the website page. If you would like your donation to go to a particular project, please state.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer 

Barclays Bank
Sort code: 20-16-08, Account number: 30799076, Account name: Sierra Leone Mission 

Or send a cheque

To: Sierra Leone Mission. Postal address: Janet Foord, 2 Cheyne Close, Church Milton, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 2SQ 

We did it!

50 miles of the Pennine Way

We did it! My mum and I started our hike on Tuesday 27July and walked for 16 miles, starting out at Hawes and ending at Tan Hill the location of the highest pub in England.

I had been prewarned that this would be the hardest day of the three, and looking back it definitely was! The weather was beautiful and sunny – windy up on the dales – then poured with rain about three hundred metres to the end. However, the views from each dale we climbed were spectacular, always showing rolling hills and countryside far off into the distance. 

Everyone we passed was incredibly friendly and we often ended up stopping and exchanging our walking aspirations for the day. After the initial “These hills are much harder than the ones we have down south!” it was wonderful to speak to so many other hikers. What was slightly annoying was when we were behind a group for a long while, then saw that we were catching them up - only to then find that they had already reached the top and turned around to come back down!

The second day we were joined by my sister Becky and walked from Bowes to Low Force waterfall. This was a much flatter and easier day, which was perfect for our aching feet from the day before. It started with a bit of light drizzle, but soon cleared up for a lovely day. And we were able to have a lovely cup of hot chocolate on our way through Middleton-in-Teesdale.

For the third and final day, it was back to just me and mum, and it rained the entire time! This time we started in Cumbria and walked ‘home’ to Teesdale, beginning with a ridiculously steep climb straight up into the clouds. As always, this was just as I like to start my hikes – out of breath and wishing I had a pair of wings to carry me to the top, but these were the best views so far. Leaving out from Dufton and making our way back to Low Force, we hiked over a point known as High Cup Nick. A beautiful scar forming a valley looking down into the town. The views would have been clearer if it weren’t for the clouds (but I have no intention of making that climb again just to see them in the sun, I’m sure you understand).

All reminiscence of the hills aside, it was a beautiful three days of hiking for a great cause! The total amount of money we’ve raised so far is £632 and there’s still the opportunity to get in there if you haven’t been able to donate yet. All the money we raise will go towards the Sierra Leone Mission: everything you hear about the missions work overseas and from Bishop Magnus is helped by the money you have given, and we are so grateful. 

A big thank you to everyone who has donated to this fundraiser. Not to mention a thank you to my Granma who drove us to our start and finish points every day, often coming over tiny and terrifying roads. We love you Granma. 

Donations to the Sierra Leone Mission won’t end after this!

by Esther Green

Donate

If you would like to donate to Esther’s fundraising hike, this can be done through a Stewardship account that was set up specifically. Donating with Stewardship is really easy and completely secure. If you are a UK taxpayer, please confirm that you would like to reclaim Gift Aid on your donation. This will add 25p to every £1 you give. The closing date for donations will be 25 September 2021.

Visit the Stewardship fundraising page: Donate to 50 Miles of the Pennine Way

Alternatively, you can donate to the Sierra Leone Mission at any time via our Donations page on The Connexion website.

Coup d'etat Guinea

Please pray for our communities in Sierra Leone, following Sunday’s coup d’etat in Guinea.

Coup leader and head of special forces, Col Mamady Doumbouya announced on Sunday evening that the government has been dissolved, the border closed and a 24 hour curfew imposed. The Guinea president, 83 year old Alpha Conde, is currently being held in military detention.

As a ‘sister’ country to Guinea, the closed border could have a negative impact on the economy of Sierra Leone. The unrest, which follows political upheaval in Chad and Mali, has also heightened fears for other vulnerable states in West Africa. 

Magnus Bendu says: ‘The coup d’etat will have some effect on Sierra Leone business generally, and for politicians also psychologically. It has not yet been evidenced as we go about our normal business. But there is fear that if a similar thing happens here it will be a different ball game altogether as our democracy is far stronger in Sierra Leone. Please pray that such a thing will not happen in Sierra Leone as it will take us far back to our very bad history. Thank you so much for your prayers’.

Click here to read a report published in The Guardian, Monday 6 September

Image of Col Mamady Doumbouya was sourced from The Sierra Leone Telegraph

Sierra Leone Health Centre

Work on the interior of the new children's Health Centre in Brama, Sierra Leone is progressing, but the pace is slow due to restricted finances. 

Generous funding enabled the purchase of land in 2019 and the necessary building materials to take the development this far. However, more money is urgently needed. Magnus has informed us that the cost of building materials has risen considerably - and prices are continuing to rise. He currently estimates that a further £27,000 will be needed to make the necessary purchases.

There is a serious need for available health facilities in Sierra Leone and this centre will primarily serve children, babies and mothers. 

Sierra Leone Health Facts

  • The child and infant mortality rate in England and Wales in 2018 was 3.8 per 1,000. In Sierra Leone it was 78 per 1,000. 
  • Between January and March 2020 in Freetown alone there were 581 maternal deaths. 
  • Maternal deaths account for 36% of all deaths amongst women aged 15 - 49 years. 
  • Sierra Leone is the most dangerous place in the world to be pregnant. 
  • There are only 245 doctors in Sierra Leone serving 7 million people. 
  • 1 in 17 women won’t survive pregnancy or delivery. 
  • 60% of population live below the poverty line. 
  • 1 in 3 people do not have access to clean water. 
  • 3 in 5 people live in rural areas. 
  • MOST deaths could be prevented! 

The majority of maternal and infant mortality in Sierra Leone is caused mainly by birth asphyxia, prematurity, sepsis and congenital deformity, which can be prevented. 

A pregnant mother-to-be living in a rural setting cannot easily access medical help. Most often there will be an elderly woman in the vicinity to 'assist' with the birth. These untrained women have been identified by the Sierra Leone Government as the primary reason for the country's maternal deaths. This type of support is now illegal, but often when problems occur it is too late to travel to a health facility and usually there is no money for transport or health care.

Once completed the Health Centre will be able to serve communities from 35 villages in the local vicinity. Trained staff will work in the clinic and also support communities in the villages, helping them to improve general hygiene and implementing vaccination programmes. They will also be able to provide post-natal health care for mothers and their babies. 

The YouTube link below shows a video from Sierra Leone, recording some of the progress of the new Health Centre.

Donate

To make a donation to help support our communities in Sierra Leone, click on the Donations button at the top of the website page. If you would like your donation to go to a particular project, please state.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer 

Barclays Bank
Sort code: 20-16-08, Account number: 30799076, Account name: Sierra Leone Mission 

Or send a cheque

To: Sierra Leone Mission. Postal address: Janet Foord, 2 Cheyne Close, Church Milton Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 2SQ 

Our prayers and thanks go to all those who have enabled this important work to continue. 

Magnus preaches at new church

The new church at Kamakontakay was filled with local villagers on Sunday 27 June for their Sunday service. Magnus Bendu travelled to the village, which is 160 miles from Freetown and a three hour journey, to preach to the congregation, bringing treats of bread for the adults and sweets for the children.

The church, which is constructed from mud blocks and a corrugated iron sheet roof, was largely built by members of the village community, with support and funding from The Connexion. The premises will be used as both a church and a school for the local children. The new Christian nursery school now has the regular attendance of a small fellowship of children. With the nearest primary school being three miles distant, it is has provided a first-time opportunity for children to attend a school in their own village.

Magnus and his team work tirelessly to serve some of the poorest communities in Sierra Leone, often in far-flung, small villages. Continuing the legacy of the Countess of Huntingdon, and her passion to spread the gospel, The Connexion now has more than 30 churches in Sierra Leone with over 3500 members.

Kamakontakay is a Muslim dominated village to the north of Sierra Leone, and when the first foundations were laid for the new church building, the village Imam joined in prayer for the dedication of the land and building, bringing the whole community together in shared celebration.

Magnus says: ‘We are so thankful for your prayers. It takes faith and passion to step out, mobilise and venture. These villages are poor places with some of the poorest people, and so many things, including food and medicines, are a blessing for them. Our aim is to provide as much as we can'. 

 

Making a donation 

If you would like to make a donation to support Magnus' Christian outreach in Sierra Leone, please click on the Donations button at the top of the website page. This will take you through to the SLM donations account. We thank you for all donations - large or small - which are vital to our continuing work to serve communities Sierra Leone.

 

Bethesda Boys Complete Exams

Six of our boys at Bethesda have now taken their National Primary School Examinations (NPSE).

Bethesda Orphanage was founded by The Connexion to provide support and education for a large number of children who were previously living on the streets of Sierra Leone, and also orphans whose family cannot be traced.

Primary schooling in Sierra Leone stretches over six years, educating children between the ages of 6 to 12. The curriculum is typically designed to provide core fundamental skills in reading, writing and mathematics, and it is necessary to pass the NPSE in order to move up to secondary school education.  

Pictured from left to right are: Bernard, Alansan, Moses (Jnr), David, Joseph and Mohammed. The results of their examinations are expected in 2-3 months.

We offer our prayers for all of the children at Bethesda, and ask for these young men to receive positive results for their exams, which will open new doors for their futures.

 

Updates from Sierra Leone

Among his many roles, Magnus Bendu has been leading bible study sessions for the children at Huntingdon Secondary School in Kola Tree, Allen Town. 

Early last year the school benefited from a generous donation, raised by Shoreham Free Church in West Sussex, which enabled the purchase of built-in mini PA systems. The staff and pupils were hugely appreciative of the donation, and the equipment has been an invaluable asset for the school. 

Magnus’ teaching focused the importance of the potential negative influence others may have on our character; drawing on 1Corinthians 15:33 ‘Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.’ and Psalm1:1 ‘Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.’ Wise words!

 

 

Abdul and Mariatu

Abdul and Mariatu are the two oldest children at Bethesda. They were rescued at a very young age from the streets of Freetown by Magnus Bendu and brought to live at Bethesda orphanage, where they became part of the Bethesda family and received a good education.

Both students have worked hard and demonstrated responsibility: Abdul was been appointed Head Boy and Mariatu is Student Chaplain. Their hope was to progress to higher education, Abdul hoping to study law and Mariatu planning to study medicine. Following an appeal made at the end of last year, God answered our prayers with a generous donation to cover the costs of their academic courses.

We now ask that you will pray for these hardworking teenagers again as they prepare to take their Final Examinations in July and August.

abdul mariatu 3

FuFu Water

The new school building at FuFu Water now has its roof. With 340 children attending the school, they were literally bursting at the seams, and badly in need of extra space. Work began on the building extension three years ago and will house three new classrooms. Having limited funds, folk from the local communities have been carrying out the work, purchasing materials as and when funds became available. It has been a slow process, but when completed it will massively help the education of the children and reduce the pressure on teaching staff.

fufu water

Prayers for the Health Centre

We give thanks for a further donation of £2000 towards the completion of the new Health Centre in Brama. Progress has been slow, and Magnus has not yet been able to source beds for the Centre. Possibilities of procuring the beds from the UK are currently being investigated. We ask for prayers that this difficulty may be overcome and for the speedy completion of the Health Centre.

Donate

If you would like to make a contribution to the valuable work in Sierra Leone, please click on the Donations button at the top of the website page. This will take you through to the SLM donations account.

 

Welcome Marie and James

We are delighted to welcome Marie and James to Bethesda as replacement staff for Aminata and Sallay, who are now moving on. 

Bethesda Orphanage supports a large number of children in need who live on the streets of Sierra Leone, and also provides a safe and loving home for orphans whose family cannot be traced.

Aminata joined the orphanage at the beginning in 2013, and has been known as the 'house mum.' She cooked for the children and was there for them as a friend, confidante, nurse and Christian example. Aminata has now gone to live with her son to help look after his child. She was finding her work at Bethesda increasingly more difficult in her advancing years. She rose early every morning to prepare meals for the children, and found the heat of the fire very intense, also visiting the market each day to buy food and make sure that every child had their needs met.

Sallay started working at Bethesda in 2016. She is a trained teacher and each day after school she would continue the children's education. Sallay was very much 'in charge' and took responsibility for the general discipline and good behaviour of the children. She has recently taken up a new teaching post that is away from Bethesda, but her son Andrew has chosen to remain.

Their commitment to the children at Bethesda was exemplary, giving 100% to their work, and putting their personal lives on hold to care for the children. They are two wonderful Christian ladies who will be greatly missed.

As Marie and James take up their new posts, we send them our best wishes and prayers for a rewarding and happy future at the orphanage.

Origins of Sierra Leone Mission

selina countess article

Young members of The Connexion, Charlotte and Esther, have created some inspired recordings, focusing on the history of the Countess of Huntingdon's outreach and early churches in Sierra Leone.

Click on the links below to view their videos (parts 1, 2 and 3) about the origins of the mission:

Part 1

sierra leone 18c     

Part 2

sierra leone 18c

Part 3

sierra leone 18c

Today the Sierra Leone Mission (SLM) supports a wide range of projects as well as helping to provide education through Connexion schools, including funding assistance for teachers’ salaries and training. SLM also gives support to the work of our churches in Sierra Leone: contributing to ministers’ wages, providing funding for ministerial training, and building and maintaining churches. 

To make a donation to support our work in Sierra Leone

Click on the Donations button at the top of the website page. This will take you through to the SLM donations account. If you would like your donation to go to a particular project, please state.

By Bank Transfer: 

Barclays Bank
Sort code: 20-16-08, Account number: 30799076, Account name: Sierra Leone Mission 

By cheque: 

To: Sierra Leone Mission. Postal address: Janet Foord, 2 Cheyne Close, Church Milton Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 2SQ 

All donations received go to support our communities in Sierra Leone. 

 

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