Salone News

Jeneba project kicks off at Masoila, Lungi

3 September 2009 at 04:30 | 1051 views

By Ibrahim Babatunde Sesay, Freetown.

Joseph Ben Keifala(top photo), a Sierra Leonean studying in the USA, recently delivered a power packed statement at the inauguration of a four classroom building constructed by the Jeneba Project to increase capacity and educational standards for pupils of the St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Masoila, Lungi.

Enthusiastic Lungi residents told PV that the inauguration of the building marked a milestone in the development of education in that strategic northern town as the constructed building would not only stand as a monument to host pupils but the lead benefactor of the Jeneba Project, Joseph Keifala utilized the occasion to inspire ambition and a sense of national pride and fulfilment among the young generation in that area.

He recalled how “At a very young age, I was arrested with my father by Charles Taylor`s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebels and incarcerated on the outskirts of Voinjama, Liberia. It was the first time I came face to face with torture, starvation and death. That experience instantly transformed my young heart into the heart of a man determined to live through each dark day with fervent hope. I never had the luxury of quitting!”

He explained that this determination made him to “… prove that this land was once referred to by even self-centred colonialists as the Athens of West Africa."

"We present here today a testament to our resilience and determination to re-brand Sierra Leone, a fountain of education in Africa! Let us rejoice as we unveil the newly constructed St. Joseph’s Senior Secondary School.”

The new classroom building

This rendition apparently ignited further referencing as the Principal of the School, John Atto-Sesay was quick to request the benefactor to provide the school with a copy of the statement for generations of students to benefit from.

The ceremony at the school campus at Masoila, Lungi, was graced by the Diocesan Catholic Bishop of the north, Bishop George Biguzzi, a number of other high level delegates from the Catholic Church, community leaders and the education sector in that area. It represented a multiple of dividends to the younger generation of Sierra Leoneans and Masoila, Lungi in particular.

The construction of the building which adds to a previous library building constructed under the same project represented the undying passion of Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora to give back to their country, inspire the young generation to aspire for higher heights and rekindle hope for a light at the end of the tunnel even in the face of adversities.

Joseph Keifala, the mega brain behind the project implored his beneficiaries never to quit because “My father taught me that education is the only legacy that cannot be taken away from an individual. To quit, therefore, is an abandonment of one’s duty to self, to family and to society at large.”

Pupils of the school expressed their appreciation to the benefactors by presenting bouquets of flowers and performing cultural dances. The many guests who attended the ceremony had listened to statements from the school stakeholders including Rev. Father Edwin B. Turay of the Catholic Church, the Parish Pastoral Council representative Abdul P. Kamara, Community Teachers’Association representative Samuel E. Sesay, and the Inspector of schools Mr. Suma.

Many of the pupils who had listened to the previous statements had an understanding on the values of morality and education in development but they were increasingly afforded firing inspiration when the Uncle of the benefactor Joseph Tolno took the podium.

The experienced French teacher gave an historic account of the toil and turmoil under which the Joseph trod from refugee in Guinea through the Grammar School, Norway and the USA. He singled out the principal of the Sierra Leone Grammar School, Akiwande Lasite as a very honest and forthright personality whose contributions to Joseph’s education deserve commendations.

He told the audience that Joseph was his alone in these struggles as the mother Jeneba Keifala had died in the thick of the war but “Now Joseph belongs to the nation.”

Tolno explained that he was contacted by his nephew who was in the USA to identify a vulnerable community where he could help his country and St. Joseph was identified where Father Peter Mansaray was contacted and work started in earnest with the construction of a library and supply of books to equip it.

“It was extraordinary to me to see Joseph actively involved in the construction process each time I visited the site,” he said noting that Joseph has offered a gift to humanity and not indulge in personal riches and gratification.