Salone News

First Primary School at Five Mile Village Cries for Help

By  | 25 July 2013 at 09:32 | 788 views

Five Mile Village one of the smallest villages at Newton can now boast of a
primary school for the first time in history.

But it is a school which is characterised by inadequacies and hampered by the
poverty of the parents of the pupils, which gives cause for cries to come from
the proprietress with the hope that UNICEF in Sierra Leone and other
sympathetic minds would get her message.

It has taken some months since I first visited Newton in the Koya Rural
District, one of the poorest districts in the West African State of Sierra
Leone.

Situated on the West Coast of Africa, Sierra Leone has been universally ranked
as one of the poorest nations in the world though it is also paradoxically
regarded as one of the “richest” because of its endowment of mineral resources including oil.

As I travelled through the newly transformed but unplanned villages by the new
land buyers at Newton, I felt bad when I beheld the many emaciated faces
that welcomed me back home.. This is a district which is filled with students
who have dropped out of school and could neither go to college nor find jobs.
(There is nothing like a place of work at Newton) .

Koya Rural District is the
only one that has no one who has been fortunate to rise up to the level of
Director, Permanent Secretary or any top position in any public institution not
to talk of having someone who has succeeded to become a minister or deputy
minister for the past twenty years. The compulsive idleness that awaits youths
at Koya Rural sometimes push them into irresistible temptations of being
manipulated , used and misused and even drawn to the point of being used to
grab lands from the poor people. The land grab scare has caused poor villagers
to pass sleepless nights.

Newton itself now has an cemetery- like atmosphere because you hardly take
notice of economic activities but people, because of poverty, now look like
zombies and there is an unusual silence that characterises each and very village
you go. . You physically feel the boredom, frustration and lack of hope in the
communities. Most of the farms owned by politicians in the past where the
villagers were employed for meagre sums but capable of sustaining their lives
have closed down. As I passed through poverty-stricken communities, old and
young people warmly greeted me and sometimes old acquaintances gave me a
warm embrace. I felt sad when many recount their plights.

I finally ended at Five Mile Village my own village. I was a guest of the
Wellington family. In the late 70s, Joseph Wellington had represented Koya
Rural District in parliament but unfortunately he became blind and had to be
replaced. Today, his son Kasho (pronounced Kahshor) is not a politician but
has engaged in many community development projects which he personally sponsors.

His wife Khadi returned from the United` States after decades of hard work
and with the hope of enjoying her labour back home only to find her husband
spending part of his wealth to put together the broken lives of people at
Newton. “I found Kasho initiating projects to help the community get e new
face. At first I found it difficult but had to join him in his humanitarian
venture. I have started the first primary school at Five Mile Village which is
serving the other communities”, she said holding my hand leading me to a newly
built church which also
serves as a school. She told me that the church was built by her husband. .

I was amazed and perplexed. In our own days we use to walk up to four miles
to go to primary school. Five Mile is a remote village within Newton. It
suffers from isolation and inadequacies and worst of all the inhabitants are
mostly illiterates. The same applies to the rest of Koya Rural. Those who have
been fortunate to darken the walls of schools have migrated to other parts of
the country to find a living and many find it difficult because in the public
sectors you hardly see any person from Koya holding a senior position to help
you get a job in an country where “connectocracy” is the means to survival and
achievement.
Back tot eh Wellington Family and their support to communities, they have found
out that running a school has never been easy. “You can imagine, the fee is Five
thousand Leones (approximately eleven dollars) per annum but people cannot
afford it!. We even had to provide uniforms, books and pens for the children”,
Mrs Wellington said.

She smiled when I told her that small as the school was,
it was one of the “biggest achievements” in the country. I told her what the
past looked like. There was a time when the whole district could only boast of
one primary school and no secondary school. Pupils walked as far as ten miles
to go to school Some pupils were only able to go to school up to four times
in a month.

From what I gathered Mrs Wellington’s problem was how to get furniture and
other learning materials for this poverty stricken community. The hope is that
UNICEF and other agencies both in and out of the country might come to help.
She also revealed plans to build a secondary school which would be the first at
Five Mile and would serve the neighbouring communities. But how anyone reach
her. She says she could be reached through her cell phone numbered;
232-30-573647 or through her email Kadikash@gmail.com.

I feel proud and inspired by the Wellington family ‘s venture. It is rare for
people to spend decades in the Western world and on their return spend their
hard earned wealth on poor people who they would prefer to impress by
displaying their wealth with luxury cars houses and walking the streets with
refined water locally called Tutik water and being called Jay
Cee ( Just Come). Jay cee refers to those who have just arrived from
the western world.

I left Five mile village with an inspiration . It is now my hope that not only
would UNICEF intervene by providing furniture and learning materials but other
agencies would also help the poor people educate their children . .

But why is this place called Five Mile ? . There is a myth that when the
colonial government was constructing the railway, the white engineers who worked
with the surveyors wanted to know the distance from Freetown to each of the
villages. The surveyors would announce to them the distance of each village as
they progressed with the measurement. The distance from Freetown to Waterloo was
measured at twenty miles and then the surveyors started afresh from Waterloo.

The surveying attracted the villagers.. First the surveyors announced “One
mile” which was One mile from Waterloo. The villagers assumed they were
renaming the villages and straightaway they presumed that their own village was
now called One Mile. Then it was Two Mile and Three Mile and then Four Mile,
Five Mile, Six Mile and so on until they arrived at a village which villagers
presumed was Number Nine because that was what they heard the surveyors
announce.

Here is the school on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=322441267876538&set=a.322441254543206.78006.322441027876562&type=1&theater

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