Villager Mohamed Fofana has lived through colonialism, independence from Britain, a brutal civil war, and the difficult post-conflict period. Here, he recounts the struggles of the war and shares the impact OVP has had in rebuilding his home village of Foindu.
My name is Mohamed Fofana. I was born in 1942. Before the rebel conflict in Sierra Leone, my home village of Foindu was very small with many thatch roofs and few zinc roofs. I lived in my neighbor’s house at the time because I could not afford building materials for my own house. Most of these houses were burned down during the war.
When the war came in 1991, I sought refuge in Segbwema, 18 miles from Foindu. The ugliest situation I was faced with was hunger. Our staple food in Sierra Leone is rice, which was not available to us at the time. My family and I ate cooked palm fruits for dinner, which provided us with no energy. My family and I will forever remember those bitter days.
In 2004, Jeff Hall, founder of OneVillage Partners, visited my village. He noticed that most of the houses had been burned down, and many people, including myself, slept under tarps. We had many sleepless nights in those houses, especially during the wet season, as the wind would blow the tarps off of the roof and the rain would soak us. We would shiver as we tried to put the tarps back on the houses.
OVP provided us with building materials like zinc and roofing nails to build houses in Foindu. I was lucky to build a house with four rooms with the help of OVP. Before the war, Foindu was very small with many thatched roofs, but today is now very large with zinc roofs for all of our houses. This is one of the successes of OVP.
Provision of safe drinking water is another major thing OVP has done in Foindu. Water is not difficult to have during the rainy season as people collect the rain and most of the local wells still have water in them. In the dry season, these wells used to dry up and people had to go afield to fetch water. This was a great problem, especially for women. OVP has provided us with four wells in Foindu which people can easily get water from.
Education is another area OVP has greatly assisted my village. After the war, many parents had very little to support their children’s education. Many students became dropouts due to a lack of support from their parents. In order to minimize dropouts, OVP provides scholarships to both secondary and tertiary students from the villages. Scholarship students have graduated from colleges and universities and are employed by the Sierra Leone Government, NGOs, and schools. Finally, OVP has built a library in Foindu. This was done to promote education in my village.
Latrines were greatly need by us in Foindu after the war. The only organization to build latrines here is OVP. One hundred latrines were built for different families throughout the village, and we no longer have to use the bushes.
OVP has benefitted everyone in Foindu in one way or another. OVP is the backbone for development in my village. On behalf of my village of Foindu, I thank OVP for all it has done. OVP shall always be remembered by all of us for the legacy it is building in Foindu.