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08/05/2017 Laliesha

Making a difference that lasts is very important to us at Action on Poverty.

We want to help people transform their own lives. We provide specific and targeted support to allow our beneficiaries to become self-sufficient.

We create a sustainable change, think of it as hand up rather than a hand out.

Over the next few months we promised to introduce you to ways in which we are striving to crete sustainability and reduce the dependency created between ourselves and the people our work benefits.

You have already heard Justus’ story from our soap stone project in Kenya, but now we want to introduce you to some of the young people that have received apprenticeship training through our projects in Sierra Leone.

Did you know that 90% of today’s world youth live in poverty?

 This often leaves them uneducated, unskilled and vulnerable to their circumstances. When resources and opportunities are so few and far between, many youths face uncertain futures.

Our projects in Sierra Leone have a strong focus on the inclusion of youth. They work to give these women and men the opportunity to create a better life for themselves. Both of our in country Partners, MAPCO and CARD offer skills training schemes to some of the most vulnerable young people.

Our partnership with MAPCO works specifically with rural communities. In these environments, there is a real importance placed on the skills development of their youths. It is hoped that by teaching these youths skills, they will be able to not only provide for themselves, but continue the learning process by teaching others.  Aisha Amara from our Levuma community said “By learning as an individual there is a great impact because they (the youths) then have the knowledge in the future to share this to others.”

Adversity is something that a lot of our youths are faced with.

Mohammad had to overcome a lot of obstacles in his life. Just like many young people in Sierra Leone he was a street child without any support or guidance. He became a jungle gang leader known as Capone. Having no education and no skills meant Mohammad had to turn to this lifestyle in order to survive. He spoke openly about how ‘Jungle Justice’ (money gained from violence, gambling and gang activities etc) used to fund his life.

It was then that he met Gerald. Gerald is one of the project trainers, he really believes in the youth of his country and wanted to show them that having skill would be better for their tomorrow. Mohammad initially rejected Gerald’s pleas to join him as a trainee.

“I was used to seeing violence and dead bodies on a daily basis, for me the idea of working was funny. I didn’t have anything to offer.”

“I didn’t gain a boss, I gained a brother and he saved my life.”

Thanks to our project with CARD, he has been trained in electronics and is able to earn money from mobile repairs and sales.  His life has been turned around. Now there is no more Capone, only Mohammad. A man his boss calls his Second in Command. He has gone from leading a gang to leading his fellow trainees. He spoke proudly his of ability to now afford rent for a place for himself, his partner and their son to stay. He can even pay to send his son to school because of this training.

But what is most compelling about Mohammad’s journey is that he wants to pay it forward. He regularly tries to encourage his former gang members to find ways of learning skills so they too can leave their destructive lifestyle. Some of his former ‘jungle brothers’ have joined him at Gerald’s, where Mohammad will train them in his spare time.

At APT  we really search to find ways to make a sustainable difference where our beneficiaries can become independent of our help and where the difference made can be maintained and carried forward.

Mohammad is a prime example of how that can happen. He is not defined by his past or ruled by his circumstance. He is a young man with plans for his future and hopes to encourage more people to do the same.

If more projects like these can be ran, then more people will be able to access the resources and guidance they need to transform their own life, making a difference to their today and tomorrow.


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