Over the past decades, the country of Sierra Leone was confronted with multiple crises. In the 1990s, the small West African nation was ravaged by a decade of civil war, leaving it as one of the poorest nations in the world – ranking 182 out of 189 according to the UN Human Development Index. In 2014, the nation was again hit badly by the outbreak of Ebola, an epidemic which left thousands of children orphaned and during which schools were closed for about eight months to tackle the spread of the virus. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March 2020, the country was able to use the lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak to ensure children were able to learn through distance learning, like for example via the Radio Teaching Program which was able to reach about 1.4 million children.
Given the specific context of Sierra Leone, StreetSmart was eager to hit the streets of Waterloo together with the team of Good Deeds Day to explore if a mobile school could create a positive impact on young people living and working on the streets. At this moment, the only West-African mobile school is active in the Togolese capital, so there is still a lot of room for expansion to other countries and cities in the region. Good Deeds Day was initiated in Sierra Leone in 2018 by Elizabeth Brewah, with the aim to provide sustainable education and care to underprivileged children, youth and young people in the Western Rural district.
During the visit, staff members of Good Deeds Day and the United Christian Church (UCC) Orphanage went through a series of four workshops to learn more about the StreetSmart products and the vision behind it. The team also showed five different locations where they think the mobile school could reach out to children on the streets, like Jombo Junction, Kissi community and Kalabata Market. In the coming months, the StreetSmart team will discuss together with the team of Good Deeds Day if a StreetSmart Wheels partnership can be set up in a sustainable way in the near future. Stay tuned for more updates!