|Ann Beatty - Girls' Safe House Project Leader|
In 2007 I was lucky enough to take a sabbatical from my work and I spent a month in Sierra Leone, teaching at the Rolal school, through Miriam and EducAid. Standing up to teach English in front of 50+ children was not the easiest but it was the most satisfying thing I had done in a very long time.
I also gained a good insight into the country through the pupils at the Freetown school who guided us through different places, Kroo Bay, Congo town, Moa Wharf and other deprived areas of Freetown. We had the opportunity to visit other charities and see their work and without saying anything detrimental about the other charities we visited in Sierra Leone I believe EducAid is having the most impact by far on peoples’ lives. All the money donated goes to the project on the ground. They provide 100% free education in 5 schools in Freetown and the provinces.
When we returned to the UK, Rudolph and I decided to set up a charity HOPE - Helping other people’s education and to fundraise to build a well in Maronka; the children were walking many miles and many hours each day to get water for the village. The well cost £3000, and we raised that in under 6 months. We are also sponsoring a young man to train as a doctor. The money it takes to sponsor this man each year is less than most of us spend on Christmas presents each year and I find that incredible that I can help someone to attain his / her dream so easily.
It seems a cliché maybe but once I returned from Sierra Leone life was not the same for me and although I have a beautiful family, lots of friends, a great job, lovely home etc etc to keep me busy, I was not satisfied and I had a desire to live my life differently.
Although I did not know what I wanted to do with my future I decided to take a year out to travel, (my other passion) so I left my job after 23 years working in social housing and put my worldly possessions in storage and embarked on travelling here and there and I had a great time gadding about.
I planned to go to South America in September this year and in April whilst I was making the most of my free time visiting Cornwall I got chatting to Miriam and she told me about this fantastic idea she had of setting up the safe house in Maronka and asked me if I would like to come out and set it up. Miriam has a great sales pitch and she convinced me it would be better than bumming about sipping cocktails in South America for 6 months and to her surprise I agreed with her so that's my story and now the future is about the girls..............
I know this project will have a huge impact on these young girls’ lives and it fits in nicely with my other passion of mentoring and coaching people to attain the best they can in this lifetime. I believe I can make a difference in terms of building the girls’ self esteem, giving them love, education and a passion for learning and living the best life they can and as much as I have to offer in terms of skills and experience I know that I have lots to gain from this too!
If you know anyone who would like to support this project in terms of volunteering, funding or any other idea you my have please get in touch.............
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to www.educaid.org.uk and www.educaidsierraleone.blogspot.com