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Lifting People out of Poverty

Our grassroots education and skills training programme in West Africa is helping women and people with disabilities learn to read, write and count and acquire a range of other skills that can help them better support themselves and their families. Development is not about providing charity: it is about social justice and fighting for peopleís rights.

Sierra Leone

A woman with her family making palm oil in Sierra Leone. Educating women and ensuring that their rights are respected is a prerequisite for Sierra Leone lifting itself out of poverty.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, with nearly 60% of the population living in poverty. The statistics on life expectancy, maternal/infant mortality and literacy are amongst the worst in the world: one in eight women can expect to die in child birth, and one in four children before reaching five. Only 50% of men can read and write, and less than 20% of women; and some estimates suggest that 10% of the population could be disabled. The situation in the north is worse in terms of levels of illiteracy and healthcare, food security and per capita income.††

Educating women and ensuring that their rights are respected is a prerequisite for Sierra Leone lifting itself out of poverty. Here's a nice quote from one of our learners ...

"Learning is like digging for a rat. When you start itís hard work and you donít know what youíll find. But now we can see the ratís tail and we are digging as hard as we can!Ē

Much can be put down to the war, which destroyed the economy and much of the infrastructure, including clinics, hospitals and other public buildings, and around half of the schools. Teachers, doctors and other professionals fled for their lives when rebels swept through, and many have not returned. Farms and businesses were abandoned and equipment was lost. And the memories are still raw: a ceasefire was only declared in 1999 and there were curfews for another couple of years.†