Update on the work in Sierra Leone

Visit to Sierra Leone by UK Board Members in Nov. 2021

Purpose of Visit

This visit to Sierra Leone from 11th to 27th November 2021 was for the purpose of monitoring the work of Transformed International (Watchmen International) in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  The trip was to incorporate a team meeting with the local WI team to discuss the ongoing work and to encourage those involved.  It was also an opportunity to visit all seven of the Sierra Leone Africa Youth Award groups to encourage the leaders and young people and to gain feedback from the group members to report back to Glenys London the TI Board lead for the Africa Youth Award.  A full training day for the AYA leaders was also incorporated to give training on the new registration process and the new feedback forms.

This was a joint trip with Maranatha Gospel Outreach Ministries with costs shared by them and Transformed International, with funds from the Aall Foundation as part of their support of the AYA projects.

Spiritual Transformation Training Programme

Meetings were held with the team in Sierra Leone, at Kailahun. The Spiritual Transformation Training Programmes that had taken place over the past year were reveiwed.  There has been one in Liberia and two in Sierra Leone.  Programmes have been running in alternate countries in order to spread it out over the bi-monthly funding available.  A discussion was then had about the desires for 2022.  It was evident from the conversations that everyone has a desire to see more STTP taking place and that we need to pray for provision of funds to allow this to happen.

They discussed alternative strategies for delivering the programme and used the DRC example of having training centres, for example having 3 centres and running the course one evening per week.  This way there would be two courses per year at each of the 3 centres.  Enthusiastic and positive discussions took place. 

Africa Youth Award

An overview of the AYA was then given by each of the AYA coordinators.   The purpose of the visits to the groups during this trip were explained, and the elements that would be covered in the AYA leaders training which was to take place the following day.

AYA Training Day

The UK Directors report:

The training was very well received, and all the youth leaders seemed to grasp what we were saying.  We gathered all the information about ongoing training and past graduations which is shown in the attached table.  We also discussed the new registration process which everyone seemed to understand.  We explained the reasons for this being, so that the UK Board are aware of all groups that are operating and so that budgeting can be planned in relation to support when funding graduations.  We also discussed the importance of feedback in all five areas and stressed how important this is when seeking funders.  Again, they seemed to understand that funders need to see how their funding is making positive impact on lives, not just the spiritual element but all five elements.   We emphasised how we need to have short, precise, meaningful statements of feedback that we can report back to funders.

AYA Group Visits

We were able to visit all the AYA groups in Sierra Leone except for Buedu as the road was too bad to take the vehicle and it wasn’t safe for us to travel that distance on bikes. We were disappointed but the team went without us, so the group still had a visit and received their football!

We visited all the other AYA groups and had a lovely time with the young people.  We talked about the importance of the whole programme and explained why all five elements are equally important.  We talked about how we are servants, and we need to follow Jesus’ example.  Jesus was a servant leader.  It is important to live out our faith, it is not enough to just have the head knowledge, our lives need to radiate Jesus.  We also talked about the importance of completing their manuals and getting them signed each month.  We then listened to testimonies from some of the young people and finished by completing the feedback questionnaires with a sample of the group.

Attendance was good overall, especially in Sebgwema.  There are 27 in the current group doing the silver but there were 63 people at the meeting.  There were many there who are wanting to start the programme.  The 27 who are currently in the group want to continue with Gold.  They are also looking to start another AYA Silver group when the current group complete so there will be a gold and silver group in this town.  It was so encouraging to see so many young people keen to engage.

Some Testimonies

As part of the community service the Nyanyanhun group cleared the road between Nyanyanhun and Morfindor a neighbouring village.  This work was recognised by the Paramount Chief, and they received an award from the local village council. In Pendembu the group cleaned the roundabout on the main highway entering their community and the local council recognised their efforts.  The Manosewalu group have cleared a local stream and also maintain the town berry.  There was a member of the local authorities at our meeting who wanted to acknowledge how well the group are working in the community and letting us know that they are being recognised within the community for their efforts.

We also encouraged the young people that they can do community service as individuals and we had reports back of some being volunteer teachers, other giving away soap that they make to those less fortunate, another young lady who has done tailoring, sews cloth free of charge for elderly people.  These young people have really grasped the importance of serving. 

In relation to skills training, it was encouraging to hear reports of many young people now able to earn money and help support their families.  One man had done his carpentry in a refugee camp in Guinea during the war, he had never done anything with it but AYA has encouraged him to get his tools out and start using his skills.  Another member in Daru had an internet café and his new skill was training others to use computers, he now trains other AYA students in computer skills using his internet café as a training centre, all free of charge.  Other young people have learnt to play instruments as their new skill and are now able to use their newfound skills in church as part of the worship team.

So many testimonies about life change. Before AYA they were bad and idle, sleeping around, drinking now they are transformed, attending church, fully committed to serve the Lord, earning money, serving the community.