The founders of Education for HOPE have always believed that education is a fundamental human right – all children should have access to basic education regardless of their socio-economic background. Education is a great equalizer. It arms the next generation with the tools and resources necessary to conquer life’s challenges and become productive citizens. School also offers children a safe environment with support, supervision, and socialization. There, they learn life skills that help them prevent diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, and common illnesses. Educating a young girl is directly related to her future ability to care for her children, support herself, and have a say in her own welfare and society. Approximately over 300,000 children are not attending school in Sierra Leone due to lack of resources.
Beginning in 1991 Sierra Leone experienced a civil war that lasted over a decade, leaving the country’s infrastructure in a devastating condition. Primary and secondary schools, libraries, colleges and universities were destroyed. Moreover, many children became orphaned, mentally disturbed, psychologically traumatized, suffered amputated limbs, and were displaced and uneducated -- not counting the thousands of innocent lives that were lost.
The educational system in Sierra Leone, particularly in rural areas, has been especially hard hit by the conflict and has yet to recover. Of the schools left standing, many have no roofs or furniture. Most of the schools are constructed with sticks and thatched roofs, which pose many health hazards. When it rains water pours in the classrooms, resulting in muddy floors. Basic school amenities such as pens, pencils, and notebooks are either not available or are very expensive to buy. Many teachers do not have the materials they need to teach. One can say that education for children in Sierra Leone has become an unaffordable luxury, instead of a basic right that all deserve to enjoy.
Despite the outpouring of support from donor countries and nonprofit organizations, much more needs to be done. The country’s educational infrastructure is still in ruins. Many schools are still in deplorable conditions: they lack doors, windows, tables and chairs, blackboards, and operable toilets.
Faced with this reality, the founders launched Education for HOPE to focus on improving the educational system through simple, practical, and sustainable programming. Most of the founders have lived or are from Sierra Leone, and directly understand the needs of the communities Education for HOPE strives to serve. We now collaborate with the Sierra Leone Library Board, individuals, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations to transform education in this war-torn nation.