‘SABI gave us the skills and knowledge we needed’

School rehabilitated in Masumana Community

In Masumana, Port Loko district, a collapsed building had served as a school for many years, while the community waited for the government to build a new one. Teachers and pupils would leave the community to attend school elsewhere because the school was unsafe.

An unsafe school building in Masumana Community

‘There was a brain drain because children used to leave this community to go to school in bigger towns,’ says Principal Douda Lamin Bangura.

Over the years, people had not felt empowered to respond inclusively to the issues facing them: in health, education and social protection. Communities had a mindset of dependency, where fixing problems was the responsibility of government.

The Intervention of SABI

SABI began working in the community in 2017 and Youth Accountability Volunteers (YAVs) trained by our partner Restless Development conducted meetings with stakeholders and the wider community. This increased knowledge around inclusion, power and community mobilisation and motivated community people to step up, lead in identifying problems and find realistic solutions.

Chief Ibrahim Kano, region chief for 44 villages including Masumana, says: ‘We know SABI. They have talked with us. They used to hold meetings with us under this roof. They used to ask us what are our strengths, what can we do for ourselves without external support.’

How SABI Involved them in the Change Process

After taking part in a citizen’s perception survey, the people in Masumana developed a high sense ownership and commitment, which energised them to collaborate. They developed an action plan, which ranked ‘an unsafe school building’ as the most worrying issue in need of urgent action. They strategically prioritised education because they wanted the best for their children.

They secured resources like sand, sticks and stones to make local bricks and set up a working group, led by the village headman, made up of young people and young women. The working group presented their plans to local politician Mariama Lo Bangura, who provided cement and financial support, while local contractor Abdul Kandoh volunteered his expertise to rebuild the school.

New school structure in Masumana Community

 

School Principal and Pupils of Masumana School

‘SABI brought high sense to the community. We had never had ideas like this,’ says community member Yeabu Koroma. ‘As the work was going on, we would consult each other to check on how it was going.

Everyone played their part in the community. Taking stones to the building site. Whoever could fetch water, they did that. Today, a three-classroom school has successfully been built in Masumana and commissioned as the Feredugu Junior Secondary School. 

SABI gave us the knowledge and skills we needed,’ adds Principal Bangura. ‘We then sat down as a community, and did the practical aspects.’