A familiar face to OVP, Aaron Ackerman, recently arrived in Sierra Leone. He received a warm welcome from the communities and a touching thank you from the Catholic Parish Council. He would like to pass on their message to everyone who has made OVP’s mission possible.
Dear Friends, I have arrived safe and sound in Sierra Leone! Other than a brief delay in London, travels to Freetown went smoothly. Just stepping off the plane onto the tarmac was exhilarating as I breathed in the scent of Sierra Leone. I’m not exactly certain the elements that comprise this unique aroma, but when I smelled it, I knew I was in Salone.It was a huge thrill to get back into the communities and see all of my friends I had made last fall during my field visit. Not everyone knew that I was coming, so it was really fun surprising people at their houses. We didn’t always remember each other’s names, but that did not diminish the joy of the reunions. It’s great working with Kari again, she and the interns are doing some excellent work. It will be very difficult to fill Kari’s shoes and nigh on impossible to approach the respect and acceptance she has earned in the community, but I am excited to get started. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with the wonderful people of Sierra Leone, and I have very high hopes and expectations for myself, the organization, and the communities. I recently participated in a meeting with the Catholic Parish Council, who are responsible for overseeing the primary school in Jokibu. They began our meeting with a very kind and grateful speech to OVP, in which they outlined the various ways our organization has impacted education:
Before we go further, we the Parish Council authorities present here want to give you our sincere thanks and appreciation for the assistance you rendered the Catholic Mission in the construction of three classrooms, building a store and office for the Roman Catholic School at Jokibu, and the rehabilitation of St. John’s Vocational Secondary School in Bunumbu. It has not been easy to get these schools going again after the eleven-year civil war in our country. Without your help, Jokibu Primary School and St. John’s Vocational Secondary School would not have come up to this improved stage.
We are also aware of the numerous scholarships that your group is giving to pupils of our various schools and the stipends for our teachers who are not on government payroll. Poverty is our problem. Not many people can afford to pay for their children because of lack of money and lack of knowledge of the value of education for their children. Teachers are not easily approved and when they are approved, salaries are not encouraging and sometimes not forthcoming. Teachers are encouraged by the incentives your group offers them.
We furthermore thank you for your warm friendship you shared with us whenever you came back to us from America. Your group has been here a few times before and you have come again. We welcome you. We hope and pray that this friendship with us will continue.
On behalf of myself, our local staff, and the villagers here in Jokibu, Pujehun, and Foindu, I offer my most sincere gratitude to all of OVP’s friends and supporters. The hope and stability engendered by OVP programming is directly attributable to the generosity and dedication of our donors and volunteers, for whom we are extremely grateful. Thank you and baika baika!