Canada News

Memunatu and the Alberta-Canada primary school

21 August 2007 at 06:20 | 1334 views

By Abayomi Charles Roberts, Edmonton.

People of Ro-Mano have one more reason to be happy and be even more hopeful as a community. Their townsmate and benefactor, Memunatu Dura-Kamara, is now a citizen of Canada. She was among dozens of immigrants who were recently sworn in at a public ceremony in Edmonton recently.

Ro-Mano is a tiny town in the Tonkolili district of Sierra Leone. It has been in The Patriotic Vanguard’s spotlight the past few weeks, and for good reason. Generous Canadians have been helping the town rebuild, through Memunatu, after devastation it suffered during the war. One of the key components of this reconstruction is a new school; built recently and now operational. It is called Alberta Canada Primary School, a co-ed elementary school(photo). The school is so named as a sign of appreciation to the donors who are mostly based in Edmonton and Calgary, the two biggest cities in the province of Alberta.

It all started a few months after she arrived in Canada five years ago, a traumatized refugee from Guinea. The challenges in Guinea did not dampen her spirits. She worked so hard as one of the leaders of the UNHCR’s Forecariah refugee camp in western Guinea that she was fondly called ’Our Chairlady,’ by most camp residents.

Ro-Mano suffered the brunt of the war, like most rural communities in the Tonkolili district. There were no social amenities and the school kids had to write on slates/books placed on their laps. After making a few fund-raisers like a dinner/dance in Edmonton, and a calendar showing photos of the project in various stages, a new school has been built. Later Memuna got donations to provide furniture for the kids to have a more conducive setting. Some of her helpers or ’Friends of Ro-Mano’ as she prefers to call them, offered to pay the salaries of the teachers and the head of the shool.

Now Alberta Canada Primary School is running fairly well, with kids even playing a mock footbal (soccer) match in honour of their Canadian benefactors and their own country. It was an historic ’battle’ that pitched Canada against Sierra Leone. The best part of the game was the amicable and celebratory spirit/atmosphere on and off the pitch, reliable sources in Ro-Mano confirmed.

It all sounds like a fairy tale but it is true, as Vanguard was able to confirm from a few of the donors who have visited Sierra Leone, some just to see for themselves. So much for the good news. Memuna is appealing for more help. "We need to keep the pupils in school and that means running costs, for which we need much more help," Memunatu says. After the worldwide publicity on The Patriotic Vanguard’s website, followed by a cover story of the sister publication, the print magazine, AFRI-CAN, Memuna acknowledges that the calls have been coming. "But we have yet to see these calls becoming real aid," she observes.

As the story unfolds, Vanguard will keep its spotlight on this exemplary project and its brainchild, Memunatu Dura-Kamara. Vanguard wants to help Ro-Mano come back to life and ’live happily ever after.’