Sierra Leone is recovering from a civil war (a ‘civil war’ is when people from the same country are in conflict with each other) that officially ended in 2002. Let’s find out how people in Patricia’s town are rebuilding their lives.
This is Patricia Sawie. She is 12 years old and the youngest of eight children in her family. She lives in a town called Gbap (pronounced Bap).
The land around Gbap is ideal for growing food, with fertile soil and plenty of water, but many people in the area have found it hard to grow enough to eat. This is partly because Sierra Leone is still recovering from a civil war.
During the war, many people were killed and many more had to flee their homes. Though the war ended in 2002, it has taken a long time to repair the damage that was done to homes and farmland – and perhaps even more time to repair trust between people who were caught up in the fighting.
In Gbap, people are hard at work dealing with the challenges they face. They’ve set up a village development committee — a group who work together to make life better for everyone in the town. It’s important that this committee listens to everyone, including the young people, so they can make decisions that improve life for the whole community.
Patricia (right) knows exactly what she wants. She would like to study hard so that one day she might be able to become the first female president of Sierra Leone. She says, ‘I would feel so proud to be the first woman president. I want to read enough so that I have the ability to be president.’
Young people with big plans need lots of energy and a safe place to study, so the village development committee is making sure the community works together to grow enough food to feed everyone. It is also making sure the town has a new school, where Patricia can study hard to achieve her dreams.
The old school was not safe: there were cracks in the walls, wooden beams hanging from the ceiling and termites nesting in the classroom. Everyone has come together to help the village development committee. They have been supported by the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone, a partner of Christian Aid, which provided some of the tools they needed.
Patricia is excited about her new school. She says, ‘It will be very good because we will have new desks and benches in the new building. We are happy that because the roof is new, the rafters will not fall on us again and the rain will not drop in our books. What we would like next is a school band!’