Salone News

Australian Diplomat Opens Library in Sierra Leone

14 July 2007 at 17:32 | 411 views

It is said that dreams well-nurtured always come true, so has the dream of a group of philanthropists in the Bankstown office of the New South Wales Department of Education in Sydney, Australia.

Recently, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana and Sierra Leone, His Excellency Jon Richardson, officially opened the newly completed library of the Kamba Primary School in the northern province of Sierra Leone. The opening ceremony was observed with pomp and pageantry as people from surrounding villages came to welcome the High Commissioner with traditional songs and mask dancing.

An alumnus of the school, Dr. Samuel Kamara, in the welcome speech, paid special tribute to the Australian people for their magnanimity and promised that the library would be used properly. He further made a special appeal for the construction of an additional building and a water well and the provision of more teachers.

The Kamba Library project was initiated in 2004 as a partnership between the project team in Sydney and the people of Kamba. Among the Sydney team is Dr. Serrie Kamara, a former student of the school, who was completing his studies in Australia when a gruesome war prevented him from returning home. Some other members of the Sydney team are Leanne Harrison, Vicki Russell, Michelle Ross, Sarah Billington, and Andrew Van Womarto.

The first consignment of books donated to the project by individuals in Sydney arrived in Kamba in December 2005 and the completion of the library was morally and financially supported by the Australian High Commission based in Accra, Ghana.

According to Leanne Harrison, the main goal of the library is to help the kids improve their literacy and numeracy skills through the use of the donated books and other educational materials.

Kamba is a small village in the north of Sierra Leone, located more than 200 kms from the capital city, Freetown, and five kilometres from the main highway. The primary school began with a tiny building in 1958 with an initial enrolment of about 50 pupils. In spite of its remote location and lack of facilities over the years, the school has as its alumni people with doctorate and masters degrees, medical doctors, public servants, successful business men and women, etc.

During the recent 10`-year civil war in the country, the school was partially destroyed and several students killed and maimed when the rebels invaded the village. It was later rebuilt through a self-help project, which led to an increase in the school’s population. A good number of the students are displaced kids who lost their parents and relatives in the war. Because of lack of accommodation and other facilities, the school currently operates a two-shift system - morning shift for younger children and an evening one for older students and adult learners.

One of the hightlights of the ceremony was the crowning of His Excellency Jon Richardson as Honorary Chief Pa Komrabai Keruma. In a show of lightheatedness following his crowning, the new chief immediately imposed fines on the District Inspector of Schools and the school’s headmaster for inadvertently referring to him in their closing remarks as High Commissioner Richardson instead of Chief Pa Komrabai, much to the amusement of the crowd. The proceeds of the fines went to the library project.