The Magbfath Line community is in remote, rural Sierra Leone. For years they've dreamt of a new school building for their children to learn, grow and thrive in. For years this has only been something they've only been able to imagine, but a few weeks ago they began to see it come to life. Today we’re excited to be sharing the first project report from one of our partners, CORD-Sierra Leone about the construction of the FIRST ever school we’re building in Sierra Leone. Cue the *goosebumps*... To refresh your memories, Magbafth is one of the rural Sierra Leone communities that we work in. We have a number of scholarship girls at the school there, and we've also helped the community build the most Awesome toilet ever. In the beginning it was literally one of the worst schools we'd ever seen, with big gaping holes in the walls, and bamboo scaffolding being used to keep the building upright. Yikes. But with the help of our amazing Do It In A Dress'ers we've been able to raise enough money to build a brand new one! We’ve put the full report up on our Internal Documents page, and you can check it out in all it’s glory there. (We’ve taken out the names of people to protect their privacy). There’s a bit of development-speak in the report, so to decode it here’s the gist: All the activities in the first stage of construction have been implemented as planned and fortunately the team in Magbafth hasn’t faced any delays or difficulties in getting the groundwork of the new school building completed – on time and under budget. Boo-yah! As you’ll read in the report we’ve been particularly successful in getting the local community involved and really encouraging them to take ownership of this project. We’re now about to start building the main infrastructure, which will also involve training school management committee members in building maintenance. Basically, how to look after the school after it’s completed, to ensure it’s around for many more generations to benefit. I remember the very first meetings I had with the Magbafth community about building a new school and even back then I could feel the community’s excitement about the possibility of new future for their children. The idea from for the new school really came from the Magbfath community themselves - we were just glad that we could play our part in making it happen. And even later when we brought on CORD –SL as our local partner to drive the construction, we were always very clear that it wasn’t One Girl’s school, or CORD’s school – it belonged to the community itself.
It’s the Magbafth community who will own and maintain the school, and of course it’ll be their children who enjoy it, for generations to come.The first step of the construction process was laying out the pegs for the concrete pour. Doesn’t sound like it’s a particularly exciting activity, does it? But the entire community turned out for it – it was an event, a celebration! Our partners even said community members and children were “dancing in jubilation at the construction site”! With the engineers, supervisor, and local construction crew getting the work started, it wasn’t long before the concrete was poured, laying the foundation for the new school. And there it is - a beautiful, freshly poured foundation all ready for a school to built on top of! One of our favourite parts of CORD’s report is the interviews they did with two members of the Magbafth community. You can really hear how passionate they are about educating their children, and how much the new school means to them. Mr Fornah, the Head Teacher of the Tonkolili District Primary School, calls the new school “a long standing dream” and he says this was finally realized “when the school project was launched and work started in earnest, and today the sub-structure is complete and the smiles continue to glimmer on our faces.” Fatmata is mother, who has four children enrolled at the school in Magbafth. She says the construction of a new school, “brings to mind how unfortunate we have been in our days as parents of this present generation by not having access to such an opportunity to go to school to be able to read and write in English.” But Fatmata says, “this long-standing sadness has been wiped away with the advent of this new project. It is time for us to start building the future of a new generation full of hope”. You can read the full interviews in the full report here. Together with CORD-SL’s expert engineers and construction supervisors, local Magbafth community members will also be part of the construction team. This emphasises again that the school is truly Magbafth’s – and they themselves are a vital part of the entire process. They’ll also be responsible for securing all the construction materials and making sure nothing goes missing from the storage so that the build can continue according to plan (read more about these security safeguards here). All in all, the first stage of construction’s gone off without a hitch! This isn't just a new school building - it's the start of a new future for the children of Magbafth and the entire community too. Watch this space for updates on the next phase – when we see the walls going up and the school really start to take shape. We can’t wait.