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Memunatu Dura-Kamara’s Dream

27 June 2008 at 20:04 | 1790 views

Memunatu Dura-Kamara, originally from Romano village, Tonkolili district, northern Sierra Leone, is no ordinary woman.

Because of this woman’s dream, the efforts of a small group of Edmontonians and a large group of Sierra Leoneans, 600 children from Romano Village area in Sierra Leone are able to walk to the Alberta Canada Primary School each day where they are greeted by the nine educators who teach them.

Children share slates and chalk for the first three grades. By grade four they will have a back pack with a few school supplies. Text books are shared, several children to a book. There is no library or gym, no electricity, no phones, no internet; there isn’t even clean water.

During the civil war several years ago, when the rebels destroyed the village, the farm land, forests, livestock and people, they threw bodies into the village well and into the river so that all the water sources would become disease ridden and polluted. Children are often sick and many women die in childbirth. There are no doctors or other medical people to care for even basic health needs of this community that has many grandparents and children but few youth and adults.

Teachers work in classes of about 80 students of multiple ages. A grade one class may have six to sixteen year olds in the same grade. Although a school building was constructed and an extension added to accommodate more students, classes are still held outside because there are too many students for the building. Teachers live together in cramped quarters, sharing a bedroom with several teachers together.

There is no place for them to plan their lessons and those with families cannot bring them to live with them since there is no place for them to stay. How many Alberta teachers would accept to teach under these conditions? And for the astounding salary of $120.00 a month?

Although the Tamaraneh Society for Community Development and Support is a relatively new society working, the actual project was started over four years ago by a visionary woman, Memunatu Dura Kamara.

Herself a refugee with only a grade five education, Memunatu dreamt of rebuilding her village as a way to give back for the opportunities she has here.

While learning English, completing one grade level after another and training to become a nursing aide, Memunatu managed to feed and clothe her own children and to send money for seeds in Romano Village so that peanuts, rice and cassava root could be planted in community gardens. She instructed local people to pour the foundation for a school building and soon walls were up and the roof raised. To fund this, she sold African food and clothes and hosted community hall fundraisers.

After four years of continuous sacrifice to run this project, Memunatu had recruited enough new friends committed to helping the people of Romano Village, to be able to start “Tamaraneh” which means “people helping each other”. The society of 12 is composed of people from a variety of races and nationalities who are both concerned about the plight of the children of Romano Village and enthusiastic about a project that is a successful grass roots initiative.

All Tamaraneh members are volunteers and money raised for the project goes directly to run the school. Last spring a junior high school was built.

Tamaraneh is working to have it fully staffed and ready to run this year. The society is also looking into finding funds for a primary health care program and a way to dig a new water well.

Photos,top to bottom: Memunatu and friends in Edmonton, Canada,Romano school children, Romano traditional rulers and elders, the school headmaster, village volunteers at the start of the project and the brand new Alberta-Canada primary school in Romano.

For more information about the Tamaraneh project, please visit: www.tamarineh.org

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