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Sierra Leone Update

From Janet O'Shea, Chair of SLM

Hi everyone

St. Ives is beginning to fill up now, especially with the children breaking up from school. We have had a stall (or two) running alongside our bookshop which has generated a great deal of interest in Sierra Leone. It has also raised money which will help with the shipping costs in October.

The Health Centre is well on the way to being completed now. Magnus has managed to source and buy 18 hospital beds and he has also bought more furniture and a huge water tank. It is wonderful to hear of it taking shape and exciting to know that soon it will be instrumental in saving many lives.

Mariatu and Abdul have been taking their exams at University.  We sent out money for Mariatu to buy nurses uniform as she will soon begin practical experience in a health centre. If you would like to contact them they are on messenger.

At the end of August a team of us will be heading to Reading to salvage after the festival. Mortimer West are again kindly allowing us to stay overnight at their premises. We will be collecting camping chairs, tents, sleeping bags and anything else that has been abandoned.  When we return to Cornwall we sell the majority of items to raise money for SLM. Why don’t you join us??? If you don’t want to salvage you could always take ‘our haul’ and sell it in your area. That would leave us room to collect more.

It is usually very hot……….. or muddy, it is smelly…..I can’t begin to describe!  The carnage is unbelievable. HOWEVER  it is great fun, it is worthwhile and it is very satisfying.

We have to register those who salvage by mid-August so if you are interested please contact me. I will need the names of salvagers (not children) and the vehicle reg that you might use.  Perhaps you could get a group together or just commit yourself.  Each time that I have salvaged the team who join me are all unbelievers, it’s a great opportunity to witness. Please give it some thought the dates are Monday 29thAugust 4:00pm - 8:00pm and Tuesday 30thAugust 10:00am   -   8:00pm. (We usually leave at 4:00pm to return to Cornwall)  

Time is now getting short for shoe bags, please can I encourage you to ask people to help in your area. Facebook is a great communicator and a wonderful way to promote the Sierra Leone Mission.

With many thanks and blessings

Janet

Sierra Leone July Prayers

You may have read last week’s article Health Centre Progress where we were delighted to announce the receipt of a generous legacy from Ken Stone, which combined with donations we’ve received from churches and individuals means we will now be able to complete the main Health Centre building in Brama, and buy essential equipment.

We praise and thank God for his wonderful answer to prayer!

Magnus’ Prayer Points for July

  • Please pray against political violence in Sierra Leone. National elections are due next year in June 2023 and the drums of violence are already beating with a lot of tribal and regional sentiments being promoted. Many people are scared already, but we know that God is able to pacify all situations.
  • Please pray also for our new outreach stations. Arab Muslim Missionaries are attempting to infiltrate them with material things in order to convince new converts. This is not working for them yet.
  • Prayer is needed for Sierra Leone and the whole of Africa. There is a serious economic crisis and prices are becoming unbearable, which gives a reason for potential violence and other vices. We will also be praying for you in the UK and the rest of the world as similar circumstances loom.
  • We thank God for providing us with generous funds to continue with the building of the Health Centre. Further financial support will still be needed, particularly during the first few months of operation, until the centre is established and running itself. We pray for further donations to help us during this period and enable us to provide an essential health service for mothers, babies and children within our local communities.

Health Centre Progress

We are delighted to announce that we have received a generous legacy from Ken Stone, who was a passionate supporter of our work in Sierra Leone.  Combined with donations we’ve received from churches and individuals this means we will now be able to complete the main Health Centre building in Brama, and buy essential equipment. 

We praise God and thank him for this wonderful answer to prayer! 

Magnus has begun sourcing beds and necessary equipment for the Health Centre, which will in effect be a hospital for mothers and children. Outstanding work includes the completion of a security wall, topped with barbed wire, to prevent break-ins, the purchase and fitting of solar panels and plumbing and electrical work.

 

Attempted Break-in

In June the Health Centre was subject to an attempted raid by a group of bandits. Thankfully they were detected by security guards, and the police arrived quickly, which prevented damage to the building and theft of materials. We thank God that nothing was missing and that nobody was hurt during the altercation.

The role of the Health Centre

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. 

Health Facts in Sierra Leone

  • 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.

Funds still needed

Whilst we are delighted to be able to complete the main building work and provide the Health Centre with necessary medical equipment, further financial support will still be needed, particularly during the first few months of operation, until the centre is established and running itself. The centre will be invaluable to the local communities, helping to save the lives of children, babies and pregnant mothers.

Donate

If you would like to make a donation, to help SLM's work in Sierra Leone, just click on the Donations button, located at the top of each website page. Please also state if you would like your donation to go towards a particular project.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer:

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

(NB We are very grateful to receive anonymous donations, but when making a bank transfer donation, the donor's name is needed for auditing purposes. Please be assured this information will remain private.)

Or send a cheque to:

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

 Thank you!

New school uniforms!

The children at Kabala and Kamakontakay church schools in Sierra Leone are proudly wearing new uniforms, which were sent out to them by The Connexion's Sierra Leone Mission (SLM).

Kabala Church School, Peterya

kabala uniform

The church in the village of Peterya in Kabala was established in November. Kabala is one of the main towns in Northern Sierra Leone, and has an ethnically diverse population. The community as a whole is predominantly Muslim, but there is also a substantial Christian minority. 

Their Pastor, Mark, is a keen evangelist who attended church in Bureh Town. He is leading the church in Peterya and also established the school for the village children.

Kamakontakay Church School

kamakontakay uniform

The church at Kamakontakay, 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 SLM. The building is used as both a church and school for the local children, which now has a regular attendance of a small fellowship of pupils. With the nearest primary school being three miles distant, the school provided a first-time opportunity for children to attend a school in their own village. 

Kamakontakay is a Muslim dominated village to the north of Sierra Leone, 160 miles from Freetown. 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.

The Connexion in Sierra Leone

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.

How to Donate

If you would like to make a donation, to help SLM's work in Sierra Leone, just click on the Donations button, located at the top of each website page. Please also state if you would like your donation to go towards a particular project.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer:

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

(NB We are very grateful to receive anonymous donations, but when making a bank transfer donation, the donor's name is needed for auditing purposes. Please be assured this information will remain private.)

Or send a cheque to:

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

Sierra Leone June Prayers

You may have read the recent article 'Roof Disaster in Makomba' and learned how God wonderfully provided through his people in the UK for Makomba School's roof to be repaired after a storm. It was an urgent need as the walls are made of mud bricks and the rains were coming. The lovely blue roof was installed just before the rains came the next day. 

Praise the Lord for His perfect timing!

 

Magnus' prayer points for June 

  • Pray for the Government to be endowed with special wisdom to govern well at this time of serious increase in the cost of living in Sierra Leone. In a country where the vast majority live on under $1 a day, escalation of prices is a big trouble.
  • Pray for strength and courage for our evangelists in Kabala, Mathoir, Kono and Kamakontakay - Mark, Michael, Kwame and John respectively.
  • Let us continue to pray for the funds needed to complete the Health Centre. The need for a proper heath centre, particularly facing on children's health, becomes urgent as everyday there are parents losing their lovely children due to lack of access to quality health care.
  • Please pray for the sick. Michael Cargo at Fufu water (hernia and foot sore), Elder Jobbie Williams at Conteh, Waterloo (diabetes & stroke), Rachael Dove at Goderich (kidney issues), Zainab Kakai at Bureh Town (stress related) and many with malaria, typhoid and cold, which is common here in this season.

 

New Teachers and Preachers

A portion of the grant received annually from the Cheshunt Foundation has been allocated to an educational programme for new Sunday School Teachers and Lay Preachers in Sierra Leone.

The training, which is provided by the Whitefield Christian Institute, began on Saturday 21 May for six weeks. During the course, participants are required to complete various assignments and also take examinations.

The origins of the Cheshunt Foundation go back to its roots as a Training College for Independent Ministers, founded in Trevecca in 1768 by the Countess of Huntingdon. When the College moved to Cheshunt in Hertfordshire in 1792, it was renamed Cheshunt College, before moving again to Cambridge in 1905 and finally merging with Westminster College from 1967. 

It is wonderful to see the work of the Cheshunt Foundation continuing the Countess's legacy in Sierra Leone. Offering opportunities for individuals to gain the type of theological training that would ordinarily be unavailable to them.

 

Roof disaster in Makomba

A violent windstorm completely destroyed the roof of one of The Connexion’s schools in Makomba, Sierra Leone in early May. 

Magnus Bendu contacted the Sierra Leone Mission (SLM) the following day (5 May) to ask for prayer and assistance as the only option would be to replace the entire roof, measuring some 23 ft x 50ft. In the meantime, children had been asked not to attend school as they could not be safely accommodated. 

Broad Oak School was originally constructed in 1997 from mud blocks with a roof of corrugated iron sheeting on rafters. However, these had worn over time, enabling the strong winds to lift the roof right off. And with the threat of the heavy rain season imminent this posed an even more serious problem to ensure protection of the mud block building.

The SLM shared the news with members of the committee and prayer was quickly answered, with one member generously agreeing to donate funds to cover the cost of building a new roof.

By Monday 9 May the money had been sent and work began immediately. By Wednesday 11 May the roof was completed, just in time before the rains arrived on Thursday!

We thank God for his miracles and continued generosity. Without this fast and benevolent gifting, the entire school may have been destroyed.

 Donations

If you would like to make a donation, to help SLM's work in Sierra Leone, just click on the Donations button, located at the top of each website page. Please also state if you would like your donation to go towards a particular project.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer:

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

(NB We are very grateful to receive anonymous donations, but when making a bank transfer donation, the donor's name is needed for auditing purposes. Please be assured this information will remain private.)

Or send a cheque to:

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

 

Messages from Sierra Leone

The origins of the Countess of Huntingdon’s missionary work in Sierra Leone date back to the 18thcentury, and go on today through the support of The Connexion and Sierra Leone Mission (SLM).

At the annual Connexion Conference, Magnus Bendu shared a selection of messages he’d gathered from a range of individuals who have benefited from this valuable partnership between the UK and Sierra Leone, which continues the Countess of Huntingdon’s legacy.

Magnus Bendu - excerpt from his Conference Report

‘The administration of The Connexion is very highly indebted to our UK partnership and friendship through the Sierra Leone Mission. Our friendship has flourished greatly over the years and they have been our major life support after God. They are always willing to help us and to unconditionally partner with the ministry in Sierra Leone. They continue to provide for the running costs of the Bethesda Orphanage, provide grants for teacher and pastor stipends and support other projects including scholarships for teacher's education and pastoral training as and when they can. They have also met the personal needs of many. They pay hospital bills, school and college fees, give stipends to poor widows, give gifts to friends and send the almighty shoe bags every year to the children – the list goes on!’ 

Abdul Mansaray, Mabang

‘I have been a teacher for over 15 years now at the school in Mabang. The Government is not paying me. The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion has paid my fees to do a Teacher's Certificate course and has been giving me transportation to get to the class and pay a salary every month. I thank you so much. What I feel so good about is that even though the money is small, they pay us very promptly and they say it is the people from England. I thank them so much.’ 

Ambrose Junisa

‘The relationship between the Countess of Huntingdon’s Mission in Sierra Leone and that of The Connexion in UK, I personally believe has been a kind of mother and son relationship, which does not get broken. Your blessing in my life as a person remains uncountable. I trust that the good Lord will strengthen this unending friendship as ever.’ 

Nancy Sawyer, Hailsham Gospel - referring to FSL support

‘What they did for me! I have never seen this kind of goodness in my life. After my husband died, they paid me every month as if I am a worker for 12 years. That amount was what sustained me and my children until I had a stable garden.’

Alieu Kamara, Magbafty

'My house was almost falling when the roof was leaking. They covered my shame and bought the corrugated iron sheet for me. That one thing that our partners in the UK did for my family, besides many more as a Pastor, I will never forget.'

Hassam Bangura, resident of Manallo - referring to Mortimer West End's support to re-roof burned houses

‘I am a Muslim and my house was burnt down as a result of political violence, these white people did not only help their Christian brothers but also few of us who are Muslims. Since that day I know that Christians are very generous and good people. I don’t know how to thank them.’ 

Christiana Mansaray, elderly woman in Manallo

‘One good thing I will always remember about our friends in England; I don’t remember their names now, but I can see their faces, all of them, is that during the war in Sierra Leone, they supplied us rice every month and even Muslims were coming to Church and some of them never returned to the Mosque again.’

 

(The photograph shows some of the Sierra Leone children receiving their shoe bags)

 

To Donate

If you would like to make a donation, to help SLM's work in Sierra Leone, just click on the Donations button, located at the top of each website page. Please also state if you would like your donation to go towards a particular project.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer:

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

(NB We are very grateful to receive anonymous donations, but when making a bank transfer donation, the donor's name is needed for auditing purposes. Please be assured this information will remain private.)

Or send a cheque to:

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

 

 

Sponsor a Child

Bethesda Orphanage in Brama, Sierra Leone was originally founded in 2013 to provide a place for children to come for food. But on one particularly rainy night in September 2013 the visiting children asked to stay, thus beginning the future of Bethesda as a full-time home and sanctuary. 

Today Bethesda accommodates 19 children, who now live in a purpose built home that was constructed in 2016, following a miraculous answer to prayer.

The house is run by Magnus Bendu, assisted by Marie the ‘House Mum’ who takes care of the home, meals and the children’s general needs and James, the ‘House Dad’, who gives the children extra tuition and is responsible for the maintenance of the building. The Orphanage also has a security man who lives on site.

The aim of Bethesda is to rescue abandoned or ‘lost’ children from the streets and give them a secure and loving Christian environment in which they can grow and thrive.

Many of the children are unaware of their exact age, but roughly they range from 8 to 18 years. Two of the older children, Abdul and Mariatu, are leaving to start University, but Bethesda will still remain their home.

Funding the Orphanage relies entirely on charitable donations, much of which comes through the Sierra Leone Mission; as does the raising of additional money to keep the children healthy and enable them to reach their potential.

Sponsoring a child is invaluable in helping to achieve this. The sum of £27 per month gives enough to cover the cost of food, clothes, health care and education for one child.

If you, or your church, would like to sponsor one of the children, please get in touch with Janet O’Shea: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Janet will then send you details of the child you are helping and set up a standing order. Your sponsorship has the power change a child’s life completely, so please do consider.

Thank you!

 

(The photo shows the children of Bethesda Orphanage, pictured with Magnus Bendu on Christmas Day 2021)

Thanks from Abdul and Mariatu

Following the generous support for Abdul's and Mariatu's progression to university, the two students from Bethesda Orphanage in Sierra Leone, would like to express their gratitude.

Thanks from Abdul

Our destiny is not created by the shoes we wear but by the steps we take. This is to express my gratitude and how thankful and happy I am with what is happening to me. Words are not enough to express my happiness and gratefulness to all of you. It is with vast pleasure that I send this special thanks from me, Abdul Mansaray, to all of you who conferred as a body to support me and my educational career in order to see me become a renowned person in the world at large. As Christians, we must always welcome the lost and receive people of all kind with Christ's love to support the weak and needy.  

Let me take this opportunity to thank you all for the support you are giving me. This support has a great impact in my life, thinking back where Bethesda took me from. If I was not taken from my past life as a small boy 12 years ago, by now I would have been hopeless or in prison or dead. 

Today I am talking about University. As I go to College I am going with a rest heart as you have given me a computer and a phone which will make learning easy for me. I really appreciate them and may God bless you. I promise to make you proud and to assure you that I will do my best to fulfil my aspirations. Please continue to pray for us, for God's direction and protection.  

Thanks from Mariatu

On behalf of all of the children at Bethesda at Brama Town in Sierra Leone West Africa, I would like to thank you all for your generous support to the orphanage. I am happy to tell you that your generous and selfless support made me achieve more than I ever imagined. 

Everything that has happened to me is just like a dream. Through your unimaginable support, you have made us achieve personal happiness, social life and academic success. We have gradually progressed from one stage to the other, just because of your support. If it were not for you, we would not have come this far. Besides academic achievement, our ways of life have been transformed morally and we have also influenced our peers to something good. As a member of Bethesda, you have made me understand the importance of helping the poor and needy. Your investment in my life will never go in vain because when my life fully succeeds, I will try very hard to replicate your generosity and kindness to hopeless children wherever they are, in the street, at homes or the villages. This is closest to my heart. 

Kindly note that my achievement this far couldn't be done without your intervention in my life. Therefore, I deeply appreciate your willingness and determination to come in and sponsor us. We hope and wish that our association and relationship will be maintained even in the future. Together we can always change the world to become a better place. Thank you.

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