Saturday, February 10, 2007

Magnificent response to Sierra Leone school books appeal

KENT on Sunday and www.kentnews.co.uk readers have given an outstanding response to our campaign to send schoolbooks and stationery to the village of Kent in Sierra Leone.

Last week we asked readers to donate books and educational materials to the former British colony, which is one of the poorest countries in the world.

We have received many offers from generous individuals, schools and businesses from across the county.

The books will be gathered, catalogued and transported to the West African nation later this year.

It is hoped the educational materials will help the children of Kent to enjoy a brighter future. 

British High Commission official Robert Collett said our appeal could “turn around the education experience of these children and give them much-needed learning resources that they simply do not have at the moment”.

Mr Collett is based in the capital Freetown, where he is helping with the British effort to rebuild Sierra Leone.

In the last three years, Britain has spent more than £90million in the country, which has virtually no infrastructure following a brutal civil war from 1991-2000.

Life in the country is tough: the average life expectancy for a man is 38, for a woman it is 42.

Kent, a fishing village and former tourist destination, is at the southern tip of the Western Peninsula and has a population of 800, mainly children.

Their school is based in the old slave house, where slaves were kept before being shipped out to Europe and America in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Although it was used as a source for slaves, Sierra Leone was historically founded with and for freed slaves.

This year sees the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

Kent County Council, Medway Council and Dover Council have kindly donated boxes of books to the campaign.

KCC leader Paul Carter said: “There are a number of Kents throughout the world and it is great to communicate with them, especially where, as in Sierra Leone, there are people and children who are far less fortunate than us and need help.

“I am delighted our library service has done its bit to help Kent on Sunday's initiative." 

Medway Council leader Rodney Chambers said: "One of our priorities here in Medway is to realise the potential of young people, and obviously education is a vital part of that.

“If we can help do the same for the youngsters of Sierra Leone and help them have happy and fulfilled lives, then we're delighted and proud to do so.

“We wish Kent On Sunday's campaign - and the people of Kent in Sierra Leone - every success."

KoS still needs pens, pencils, crayons and pads of paper. Anyone who wants to donate, or who can offer assistance with cataloguing or transportation, please email Bernard.ginns@kosmedia.co.uk or telephone 01303 817 175 or 01303 817 176 and leave a message.

Link to Kent News