Last May, Lauren, Rose and Megan went to Sierra Leone to collect updates from the people our programmes have impacted, to learn, evaluate and plan for the future.
Working closely with our partners MAPCO, we spoke to people who had taken part in our projects about the journeys they have been on to improve their lives and how they’re overcoming poverty. Going forward, we want to amplify these voices even more and make space for our communications to be more locally led.
With that in mind, here is Jusu, a 23 year old father of two from Blama Massaquoi, southern Sierra Leone. Jusu took part in our project Empowering Local Communities in Pujehun, co-funded by the European Union:
I was unable to earn money and had finance problems. At that time, I was out of money and had difficulty searching for food, for clothing, and taking my two daughters to school.
I knew MAPCO was coming to the community, and because I can write well I was called upon by some community members to be secretary of the CBO (the community group set up by our project who organise the loans, coordinate the skills development and classes, and maintain the sustainability of the project).
They chose me as a facilitator for the adult literacy training, teaching other community members how to write. I am so proud of teaching adult literacy to women in the community – they now know how to spell which helps them with their businesses. That even alone makes me proud.
Through the project, I took a loan of 500,000Le (£30), which I used to grow a small business with my wife, selling bread and “fry-fry” snacks.
I now earn 1,000,000Le (£60) a month and sometimes more, and I can take care of my daughters and wife. We now eat twice every day, when before the project it was often 7pm before we could eat our first meal of the day.
Now I am doing distance learning at college to become a teacher and educate the vulnerable children in my village. The advice I give to my children is to set an example, take education seriously, read your books and follow what your teacher tells you so that you can be a future leader.
You can hear Jusu answer a few questions about his life (and his dog Fredo!) that some youngsters in our network wanted to put to him below:
It was an honour talking to Jusu and others like him. Not only is he improving his livelihood to benefit his family, but he is going the extra mile to make sure other people in his community can build better lives too.
Part of the magic of this model is that because it is community-owned, the communities continue to feel the benefit long after the project closes. The CBO groups continue organising and distributing loans, and connections and initiatives that were set up through the project can continue to bear fruit.
This project is co-funded by the European Union.