Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy has established the country’s first rural early childhood program. Dovalema Early Childhood Centre, with a permaculture farm Ta-Valema Permaculture Farm & Learning Lab to provide nutrition and learning for children within village communities in Sierra Leone. Having suffered 10 years of civil war, Ebola crisis, and Mudslide, Sierra Leoneans are eager to restore and renew the decision-making traditions that allowed everyday members of the community to identify problems affecting them and develop concrete solutions.
There are no known early childhood centers in villages across Sierra Leone, the idea of parents (mainly mothers), being forced to negotiate between providing childcare and feeding is frightening. As it stands, families in village communities who want their children to have access to early childhood education would have to move from the village into cities or big towns to enable that child to have access to early childhood knowledge-this is what Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy has been set up to challenge and change.
The value and importance of changing this narrative, will allow for a slowdown in the urban/rural divide, it will enable communities to see their environment as a place they can call home. Changing this narrative will support a new start with children in understanding the values of living in nature with the ecology. Dovalema Early Childhood Centre gives children a place to learn and grow as an alternative to going to the family garden outside the village for the day or being supervised by, or in some cases, not supervised by older siblings.
Our approach allows for families to bring their children to the Center, food from the farm will feed the children two meals a day and provide critical literacy.
Sierra Leone’s under-5 survival rate has consistently been last or near last in the world. Ebola left the country with twelve-thousand orphans and the recent mudslide has exacerbated the country’s need to ensure that an entire generation is cared for and develops the critical thinking and practical skills necessary to protect Sierra Leone’s ecological and cultural richness. Still, the only early childhood centers in the country are limited to those with resources in urban areas. This is despite the dangers of rural life in Sierra Leone: Many farming families have no choice but to leave their children unattended and unstimulated, risking attacks by animals, mosquito borne disease, dehydration, ﬁre, etc.
Thank you for believing in the work we are doing in Sierra Leone, and thank you for your donation.