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NOSLINA elects first female chair

21 October 2017 at 04:33 | 1904 views

By a Special Correspondent

Introduction

For nearly 20 years, the National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America (NOSLINA) has served as the leading Sierra Leone Diaspora organization in the US. In consolidating links between the Diaspora and homeland, the organization specifically has been supporting community projects at home; advocating good governance and citizenship; and publicly recognizing individuals of Sierra Leone descent and friends of Sierra Leone for their professional accomplishments and distinctive contributions to Society. In respect to the latter, NOSLINA moved its prestigious Annual Awards Gala from land to water: instead of hosting at a hotel, the group celebrated its signature event at the just-ended October 14-19 Royal Caribbean Cruise to Bermuda.

1st NOSLINA Female Chair and 2017 Gala Honorees Recognized on Cruise to Bermuda

At an auspicious Awards Gala on Sunday, October 15, aboard the Royal Caribbean ’Grandeur of the Seas’ ship to Bermuda, the reins of power changed at NOSLINA. NOSLINA Chairman of the Board, Dr. John Davies-Cole formally transferred power to Ms. Audrey Pabs-Garnon (left in photo with Mrs. Peagy Foday), the first elected female Chair of the 19-year-old organization! Davies-Cole himself, Chief Epidemiologist of Washington, DC, assumed the helm of the umbrella organization at a critical time when the Ebola pandemic ravaged Sierra Leone. His expertise on diseases and millions of dollars in relief supplies airlifted to Sierra Leone - coordinated by then-NOSLINA Executive Director, the dynamic Suna Nallo - helped alleviate the scourge in the country.

Pabs-Garnon has a long career as an early childhood educator and is passionate about working with young children. For almost two decades she served as Director of the American Institute of Physics on-site Child Care Center in College Park, Maryland, for which she attained National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) & Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) accreditations. Currently, an International Early Childhood Consultant, for 2010 & 2011 consecutively, Pabs-Garnon was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women.

The high point of the inaugural Awards Ceremony at sea was the conferring of awards on the charismatic visionary, Rev. Dr. Abdul K Sesay, Founder and Senior Pastor of Kings and Priests Court International Ministries (KPCIM), and on the remarkable Peagie Woobay Scholarship Fund (PWSF). Significant to note is that Sesay’s Non-Denominational KPCIM and NOSLINA are both presently preoccupied with Relief efforts to aid victims of the August 14 mudslide in Freetown that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths and mass destruction of property.

City of Light church is home to KPCIM - from 2013 to 2015, the young Sesay built the 10,000 (ten thousand) square feet two-storey church from scratch in the heart of Maryland’s high-end Montgomery County, Maryland. However, City of Light is a church that reaches out to all regardless of class, creed or color.

Through weekly services and TV broadcasts in the Washington DC metro area and mainland Europe, KPCIM reaches out to thousands of people - communities in metropolitan Washington, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, where an orphanage and a school are now being developed to cater to orphans and children generally in impoverished communities.

A survivor of the brutal ten-year civil war in Sierra Leone, Sesay is author of "Remedies for Positive Living: The ABC’s of Living a Healthy and Positive Lifestyle". Sesay is “father” to the fatherless, and this has given him a craving for helping and caring for orphans - little wonder at this maiden NOSLINA Gala on the high seas he was bestowed the coveted 2017 NOSLINA Diamond Award for Distinguished Service, the organization’s highest honor!

The NOSLINA Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service went to Peagie Woobay Scholarship Fund (PWSF) represented by CEO and Founder, Mrs. Peagie Foday. Foday traveled all the way from Sweden (where she’s based) to receive her award and to participate in the cruise.

Foday has changed this world for teenage moms with her exceptional work not only in the Sierra Leone community, but the world at large. Having been pregnant at the age of 15, Foday never allowed the pregnancy to doom her future to succeed in life. With support from her extended family network she was able to go back to school and complete her disrupted education. In starting PWSF, Foday uses her story to offer pregnant teenage girls a second chance of realizing their dreams and goals of becoming self-accomplished by providing the financial support for girls who may otherwise not have the means to go back to school after their teenage pregnancy.

Why Choose Bermuda for a Fundraising Cruise?

NOSLINA Board Member and Royal Caribbean Booking Agent who coordinated the Cruise on a voluntary/pro-bono basis, Mrs Eugenia Chinsman, remarks: "I chose Bermuda as a fundraising destination for NOSLINA for two reasons: (1) Most of NOSLINA’s members live in and around the Washington/Baltimore corridor which makes it easy for them to board a ship at the Baltimore Pier without incurring the cost of flying to another port to join a ship. Secondly, most cruise ships do shorter cruises to Bermuda which is convenient for people who want to take a short vacation.

In addition, the beaches, the terrain, the lovely people, beautiful hotels make Bermuda a wonderful destination for short getaways. When compared to Bahamas, I always take into consideration the long crossing from Baltimore or New York because your guests will have to spend 2-3 days at sea before arriving in the Bahamas. Well, especially for first-time cruisers - which was the demography of our fundraising cruise - it would have been hard to keep them that long at sea, so Bermuda won the toss of the coin for me."

The first NOSLINA event at sea

There you have it, Bermuda was the destination point for NOSLINA’s maiden Fundraising Voyage - funds raised from Cruise ticket sales will go toward the organization’s Education, Health and Sanitation, and Cultural Arts programs in Sierra Leone. In view of the warm hospitality and cordial reception they received on the island, it would not be surprising that this group will return to the Caribbean to host even more Galas and relax on a cruise in the coming years. For further information on how to join NOSLINA and help bolster development initiatives in Sierra Leone please visit www.noslina.net.

Onward!

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