Charities Operating in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone has found itself in a dire situation with a 10-year civil war and a mass outbreak of Ebola. Despite this, some have been implementing large-scale charitable efforts. By prioritizing sanitation, gender equality and safety for children, charities operating in Sierra Leone can help dramatically improve living conditions in Sierra Leone. Here is information about five charities operating in Sierra Leone.


WaterAid is a charity that provides clean water and sanitary spaces to impoverished countries. Sierra Leone suffered from a mass outbreak of Ebola from 2014-2016. Statistics from WaterAid show that less than one in four households had access to wash their hands and one in 14 had access to soap. With poor sanitary spaces, the people of Sierra Leone suffered greatly with more than 14,000 cases of Ebola. A lack of clean water also results in the prevalence of diarrhoeal-related illnesses with more than 700 children under the age of 5 dying from the illness every year. WaterAid aims to provide clean water, toilets and other sanitary products to prevent the devastating impacts of various diseases. Through funding the construction of taps dispensing clean water, WaterAid strives to give the people of Sierra Leone access to clean water.

Sierra Leone War Trust For Children

Sierra Leone’s 10-year civil war forced many young children to fight and see things beyond their years. Established in 1999, the Sierra Leone War Trust For Children aids those children most affected by the civil war and helps them find a safe future. Project funding has prioritized children’s health and education to give young children the best chance at a healthy and fulfilled life. Since its establishment, the charity has raised more than $1 million and has helped more than 5,000 Sierra Leonean children. Current projects involve giving aid to Ebola orphans who have lost parents and donating school supplies to improve the quality of education in the country. By giving children important skills, they have a better chance of finding employment in the future and growing the economy.

British Red Cross

The British Red Cross is a charity that strives to end human suffering around the world. The charity prioritizes education as a key to the nation’s health. For example, Red Cross volunteers visit households to educate families on disease prevention techniques. By giving Sierra Leonean people essential knowledge about the spread of disease, the risk of another outbreak is much lower. As a result of COVID-19, domestic abuse of women in Sierra Leone has been an increasing problem. Through cash grants, the British Red Cross has also emphasized the provision of education, medical attention and job opportunities to women suffering from domestic abuse.

Aberdeen Women’s Center

Charities operating in Sierra Leone are necessary to provide aid for women in society. The Aberdeen Women’s Center, operating in Freetown Sierra Leone, aids women who have suffered from female genital mutilation (FGM). The charity has gained significant popularity since it started in 2010 and the maternity ward now delivers more than 3,000 babies a year. By ensuring safe childbirth for young women, the charity is working to set a precedent by encouraging safety for women post-childbirth. With support from the Aminata Maternal Foundation (AMF), the charity also helps adolescent females post-childbirth learn employable skills and find a career path. Aberdeen Women’s Center is working to create a long line of healthy and economically stable women in a Sierra Leonean society where they are often marginalized.


UNICEF aims to increase safety for children in Sierra Leone by providing greater access to education and health spaces. It realizes the unprecedented circumstances children, especially girls, are facing, which is why the charity is a part of the “Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage.” This initiative has the goal of protecting adolescent mothers.

Due to extreme poverty, school attendance in Sierra Leone is low. UNICEF statistics show that only 44% of students complete lower secondary school, and even fewer complete an upper secondary education – 22%. The high frequency of teenage pregnancies and marriages has contributed significantly to these low numbers. According to UNICEF data from 2015, 30% of females married before the age of 18, and one in 10 teenage girls was pregnant. Moreover, high illiteracy and a lack of economic independence have led to women lacking a political voice in Sierra Leone. To stop this cycle from repeating, UNICEF is working on getting more girls into school by financially aiding The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE). The MBSSE supports a bridge program to help adolescent mothers re-enroll.

The Road Ahead

Overall, these charities in Sierra Leone have made monumental strides. By prioritizing sanitation, education and medication, these charities are greatly helping those in poverty. Although the country has a long way to go to escape widespread poverty, the efforts of these charities will contribute to a more prosperous future for Sierra Leone’s citizens.

– Freddie Trevanion
Photo: Flickr

refugee storiesOf the world’s population, 79.5 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. There are currently about 26 million refugees worldwide. Many of these individuals have been forced to flee their homes, experiencing extreme difficulty and hardship. At the peak of the 2015 European refugee crisis, headlines surrounding refugees’ stories of fleeing their home countries saturated the news. Combined with sobering photographs, these refugee stories provided the world with a glimpse into the realities of what thousands of individuals and families were experiencing and enduring. As the years have passed, this coverage has diminished, but thousands of refugees continue to flee their homes to find asylum elsewhere.

Refugee Stories in the News

One World Media, an organization supporting independent media coverage on circumstances in developing countries, advocates for continued media coverage of the European Refugee Crisis. To do so, it launched the Refugee Reporting Award. In partnership with the British Red Cross, the award encourages accurate and empathetic coverage of the state of the continuous refugee crisis.

The Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy at British Red Cross, Zoë Abrams, expounds on the importance of telling refugee stories. She explains that these stories are key to breaking down misconceptions and bias surrounding refugees and migrants. Abrams further states that “the relative trickle of stories nowadays means it is easy to wrongly assume that the situation for people on the move has dramatically improved.” This, however, is far from true, as issues regarding migration have increased across the globe.

How We Tell Refugee Stories

Although it is important to compile and share refugee stories, the manner in which individuals and their stories are portrayed should be carefully considered. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) advises readers not to focus on refugees’ pasts, but to consider what individuals can accomplish despite what they have experienced.

The UNHCR shared the story of Shahm Maskoun, a Syrian refugee now living in France. He was finding great success in his life in Syria, but then war broke out and he was forced to flee, leaving everything behind. When Maskoun arrived in France, he had nothing and was very lonely. However, taking advantage of the support offered to refugees and migrants, he received some financial and health support. He eventually enrolled in a master’s program and then began giving back, assisting students in his classes and using his skills in internships. Reflecting on his own experiences, Maskoun says that he wants people to understand that refugees themselves aren’t the crisis, but the manner in which the media tells their stories can be problematic, insinuating they are defined by the hardships they have experienced.

The Importance of Refugee Stories

All types of refugee stories, including those highlighting the difficulties that individuals experienced while fleeing their homes and those describing the success found by refugees in other countries, have their place. A recent study shows that children need to hear refugee stories because it makes them more compassionate and empathetic, especially if refugee children are living in their communities and attending their schools.

Testing three groups of children, the results illustrated the connection between empathy and a willingness to help others. In this case, hearing the stories and experiences of the refugee children who would be joining their school class made children act accordingly with kindness and mindfulness toward their new classmates.

Compiling and telling refugee stories can be a useful tool in educating and informing the public about the state of the refugee crisis. As these stories foster empathy, it is likely that communities will remember refugees and seek to help provide them with relief and safety.

– Kalicia Bateman
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Elizabeth of York never had the intention to become Queen, but she is now Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and its neighboring kingdoms and territories. In addition, she is the head of the Commonwealth of Nations. Her reign has lasted more 60 years, giving her the title of the longest-ruling monarch in British history. Just this past April 2019, the Queen celebrated her 93rd birthday and continues to make history till this day. Written below are the top 10 facts about Queen Elizabeth II that show a glimpse into her life.

Top 10 Facts About Queen Elizabeth II

  1. Born Princess Elizabeth of York and third in line to ascend the throne, Queen Elizabeth II never imagined assuming the responsibilities and obligations of sovereignty, up until February 6, 1952, when Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, died of lung cancer. The unexpected turn of events started in December 1936 when the Queen’s father became King after his brother King Edward VIII abdicated his title for love. Consequently, the Queen became heir presumptive. Her father did not declare her heir apparent due to the possibility of a male heir. On June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation in Westminster Abbey.
  2. Queen Elizabeth II along with other members of the Royal Family have an extensive background in philanthropy. Presently, more than 3,000 organizations around the globe state a member of the Royal Family as their patron or president, with Queen Elizabeth II serving as patron for 510 of those British charities alone. The charities range from large organizations like the British Red Cross to smaller organizations like Reedham Children’s Trust and the regiments of the Armed Forces. Royal patronages, visits and involvement with charities help bring much-needed awareness and publicity for important social causes. The Queen’s benefaction holds the most significance and is the most sought after.
  3. In 2012, the Queen assisted charities she patrons raise a total of £1,4 billion, according to Charities Aid Foundation’s research Charities Aid Foundations. This fact solidifies her as one of the world’s leading charity supporters. In 2015, after news broke out regarding the devasting earthquake that struck Nepal, Her Majesty donated her personal money to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s request to help and support the victims of this catastrophe. The country of Nepal holds a special place in the Queen’s heart because it houses The Royal Gurkha Rifles, an organization of troops run by Prince Charles, its Colonial in Chief. The Royal Gurkha Rifles fight for the United Kingdom but were not born in the country.
  4. The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust is an organization that Queen Elizabeth II is a patron of and Prince Harry is the president. It is an organization that works with 53 Commonwealth countries to enact positive social change initiated by impactful youth. The organization’s mission statement reflects on its efforts in discovering and funding individuals who attain bright ideas that solve local problems in education, health, the environment and sport. The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust supports those who have started their own nonprofit organizations, along with those who oversee projects that help others. Currently, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and CAMA have partnered to help reduce poverty and inequality among young girls in Africa by helping them receive education and giving them leadership positions within their communities.
  5. Another point on the list of top 10 facts about Queen Elizabeth II is that the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust has partnered with Ankit Kawatra’s Feeding India, which is one of the world’s leading youth-run volunteer organizations set to eradicate world hunger. The partnership aims to combat hunger in India with 8,5000 people working together to gather excess food from events, restaurants and hotels in more than 50 cities and deliver it to undernourished people, reaching more than 15,000 individuals every day.
  6. The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is one of the world’s most prestigious and oldest international university networks to date and has for the last 33 years been honored with Her Royal Majesty’s patronage. In fact, she was the first patron of the organization. The Queen has helped the ACU offer Commonwealth scholarships to over 35,000 students throughout the years, which help them make the trip to the United Kingdom or other Commonwealth countries. That is, however, until now; when the Queen has graciously passed down her title to her granddaughter-in-law, The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, along with a few other duties. As the new patron, the Duchess of Sussex has already announced two ACU gender grants that will help fund new learning projects meant to empower female university employees and promote gender equality.
  7. The Queen embraces strides towards modernizing her personal image along with that of the monarchy. For a period of time every summer, Her Majesty welcomes the public to stay in the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the sovereigns since 1837 and also today’s administrative headquarters of the monarch, while she is away and is the first monarch to do so. Queen Elizabeth’s II garden parties, hosted multiple times per summer at Buckingham Palace and once at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, also help in the Queen’s plan to meet a cross-section of British society and thank them for their good deeds. This charitable event, with approximately 8,000 people, allows the Queen to become familiar with Britain’s everyday citizens instead of the usual diplomats at the Palace.
  8. Throughout her Majesty’s reign, digital communication platforms have made many advancements. In 1953, the Queen’s coronation was the first to broadcast live from Westminster Abbey. In 1997, the Royal Family started their own website and later created their own Twitter account (@BritishMonarchy) in 2014. The Queen’s very first tweet was during her visit to the London Science Museum in 2014, and in keeping with tradition, the page shared the Queen’s very first Instagram post (@theroyalfamily) at her most recent visit to the Science Museum in 2019. She posted an archive picture addressed to her great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert, and written by Charles Babbage, the world’s first accredited computer pioneer.
  9. Over the course of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II witnessed 13 prime ministers enter into power. The first prime minister she worked with was Winston Churchill. The Queen has worked with about a quarter of the United States’ presidents throughout history as well.
  10. On February 6, 2017, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee or 65th year on the throne. She is the only monarch to ever celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee, surpassing her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in September of 2015. Queen Victoria was the previous longest-reigning monarch at 63 years. There were royal gun salutes administered at Green Park and the Tower of London, along with eight new commemorative coins issued by The Royal Mint in honor of the Queen’s reign.

These top 10 facts about Queen Elizabeth II only reinforce the fact that Her Majesty is one of the world’s most commemorated public figures in history. There are three generations of heirs lined up for the monarch after her reign including her son, Charles, Prince of Wales; her grandson, William, Duke of Cambridge; and her great-grandson, George, Prince of Cambridge. The legacy of the Royals will continue to create history for years to come due to Queen Elizabeth’s II influential reign over Britain.

– Jillian Rose
Photo: Flickr