Dovalema Early Childhood Center
Dovalema is a Mende word that means
"a place where children grow."
In villages across Sierra Leone, most parents—and the burden is usually on the mother—must walk several miles to farm, carrying their children on their backs. Children are often left unattended or in the care of siblings as young as five years of age—who themselves need care, supervision, and schooling. Often, their only option is to leave them sitting under a hut while they tend to their crops, in hopes of providing food for their families.
In addition, the issues of food insecurity, poor nutrition and health, environmental degradation, and lack of economic access are directly connected with limited early childhood development and education, illiteracy, child labor, violence, and neglect within and outside of homes.
SLFND's Dovalema Early Childhood Center will answer the need for childcare services in village communities by providing culturally-specific structured curriculum as it supports the emotional and nutritional needs of participating children ages 2-5.
We have opened Sierra Leone's first Village Early Childhood Education Center in the village of Mondema, Kenema District, with 215 children. We welcome the courage of home grown initiative and one that gives hope to children in village communities to being their journey of education by allowing them the right to play and learn. The concept of a village preschool is not impossible. Sierra Leone has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, malnutrition is very high, and literacy is very low.
Our approach has allowed agrarian communities such as those in Sierra Leone rural villages to support parents go to their farms while the young children attend preschool and get feeding from the food grown on the farm.
Many children are missing on early childhood start in life, all because parents, families cannot afford schooling support for their children. Most children only start class 1 or first grade at a much older age in life , while others never start at all.
We are creating change-one village at a time. We welcome support in ways that would help us make the road by walking.