When I think of Human Capital Development, Ghana and Rwanda come to mind. In the mid70s I worked with some Ghanaians at a UN subsidiary organization in Liberia.
Webinar to Discuss the Implementation of International Law for Peace “Marching on Toward Sustainable Peace in a Pandemic Era”
On March 14, HWPL’s 5th Annual Commemoration of the DPCW was held as a live webinar, joined by over 1,200 people in 132 countries from all sectors of the society including government, international organizations, heads of women and youth groups, religious leaders, press, and members of civic society.
9th February 2021: The Eastern Provincial Headquarters on Kenema City has been in serious flames after traditional secrete society members got on the rampage in search of one James Koroma who they say made some public utterances against their culture.
INCLUSION OF WOMEN SELF-HELP GROUPS TO CONTRIBUTE TO HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF OUR NATION
Sierra Leone, for decades, has suffered and has been notoriously labeled, by multiple sources as one of the highest rates in illiteracy, maternal and infant mortality, corruption, gender inequality and other major socio-economic problems responsible for the high rate of poverty and backwardness. So many interventions by government, missionaries, NGOs and private sectors have failed to address the societal cancer of this nation. Other insurmountable challenges include lack of information and capacity on alternative livelihood options. Additionally, corruption and middle man exploitation have ravaged ignorant women who are unable to effectively and efficiently produce, process and/or directly access marketing opportunities. Most villages depend upon agriculture, fisheries, cattle-rearing and petty trading for their daily wages. I witnessed a particular trade fair process over the Christmas Holidays in Gbangbatoke village, Moyamba District where one of the district trade fairs are held locally called “Luma” or “Ndowei”. I found a lot of my women their from the Moseilolo WIMI group. The trade fair was very disorganized inspite of all the political promotions of such marketing opportunities. Majority of the villagers are not aware of political system and very few people participate in the political system. As a result, the people are dominated and exploited by these politicians. Our Women Self-Help Groups are unfortunately negatively impacted by such inefficiencies. Women Self-Help groups however, could be taken as the base for majority gender interventions and livelihood activities enabling them to contribute towards mainstream Human Capital Development process, thereby uplifting their status especially those from marginalized section of society through various development initiatives.
Other challenges that directly impact women groups are health-related. In a typical village like Moseilolo in the Moyamba District, only first aid support is available. By the time a serious patient is rushed to the closest medical facility 7-10 miles away, death often is the end result, adding to Sierra Leone’s statistics of highest mortality rates. Some areas, health and sanitation are much neglected. Due to financial problem, many do not go to hospital, they are treated at the village by phony shady medicine men, herbs or by quack local medical person, hardly providing any adequate healing. The village, as well as urban children suffer from poverty through malnutrition and other chronic diseases also adding to the Sierra Leone’s record of highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. I spent my 2020 Christmas Holiday in a typical village called Moseilolo, where I observed a baby’s death from high fever. The compounded difficulties are worsened during raining season when it becomes extremely difficult for the people to come to the closest medical facility. I was spending Christmas Holidays, but I felt like a researcher, mesmerized and overwhelmed by some of the challenges in the village, including a lack of school for 9 surrounding villages. I will address the academics in the next article.
Today, I would like to discuss a particular intervention, “Women Self Groups.” Developing, enhancing, promoting and utilizing socio-cultural practices of local communities could bring powerful positive changes in the livelihood opportunities and income generating activities which could contribute to human capital development of targeted communities. At PeFoHD, through our WIMI Programs, we have Organized Cluster level activities including alternative livelihood opportunities in the target communities for women like community fair shops and other micro enterprises like fishmongering and petty trading.
We have also been networking with financial institutions and have established business and financial training linkages. Eventhough our female literacy rate is very hopeless, however in some of the villages Women in Sierra Leone are at a higher illiteracy and poverty rate than men. That has not impacted our trainings which are conducted in the local languages. Like most African women on the continent, Sierra Leonean women are more hardworking than men. As a result, skill building measures need to be established, or we can enhance existing ones in order to improve on effectiveness of their marginal levels of livelihood practices. At People’s Foundation for Humanity Development, our Gender Training Program, WIMI includes holistic trainings which impact spiritual, behavioral and attitudinal changes. In empowering our women groups, we conduct Business trainings including Financial Literacy, Money Management and Small Enterprise Empowerment. We also conduct Leadership trainings to enable them to actively participate in decision making processes at their own community levels. We have proven over and again that the above trainings bring about lasting impact on target beneficiaries way beyond any project implementation. Some examples I’ve been involved in, include the WIMI Small Scale Empowerment Projects at WIMI Bo, WIMI Funkia, WIMI Angola Town in Freetown and the Engineers Without Borders Water (EWB) , Sanitation and Solar project at Centennial Secondary School, Mattru Jong. Prior to implementation of these projects, the communities were mobilized, engaged, sensitized and involved. All of them were very successful with very minimal challenges.
All of these projects have significantly, holistically and positively affected the lives of the respective communities. Those that were income generation activities created self-employability and livelihood security such as the fishmongers of Funkia and petty traders of Bo. The EWB project at Centennial Secondary School has impacted other surrounding schools who also utilize the solar light, the surrounding communities also use the campus water after school hours thereby impacted even their health from drinking treated water which has greatly impacted water-borned disease in the community.
For Sierra Leone, as a whole, these Self-Help Groups could be replicated in various areas of the country thereby impacted the socio-changes brought in by trainings prior to empowerment projects, in terms of livelihood practices, which will have lasting impact on the target beneficiaries even beyond the project period. Sierra Leone’s quest for Human Capital Development is not only through formal education but non-formal trainings, livelihood security, job opportunities which will strengthen income generation opportunities through capacity building support nationwide. It is expected that the beneficiaries will continue the livelihood practices, which directly contribute to increased family economy, which directly has the potential of positively impacting the esteemed Human Capital Development.
Dr. Lauretta Will Sillah, CEO/Founder of People’s Foundation for Humanity Development (PeFoHD) provides Executive Leadership and Strategic Vision of PeFoHD. She has participated in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 conferences at the United Nation’s High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals in New York. For 21 years, through her charity and missionary team initiatives, Dr. Sillah has pioneered a Water, Sanitation and Solar Light with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) at her alma mater – Centennial Secondary School, Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone as well as several Women Group projects through the Women In Ministry International (WIMI) Training programs. She has collected and donated over a million-dollar worth of emergency relief supplies and educational materials to higher institutions including University of Sierra Leone, Njala University, IAMTECH, orphanages, victims of disasters, primary and secondary academic institutions in Sierra Leone in relief efforts during Post-war, Post Ebola, Post Flooding and Post Landslide disasters. An ordained Minister at Fresh Anointing House of Worship, USA, Dr. Sillah is married with 4 grown sons, 4 granddaughters and 4 adopted children
International Scholars Raise Concerns over “an Attempt to Destroy a New Religious Movement” in South Korea
On July 20, a webinar on a new religious movement in South Korea and its political, religious, and social dimensions with the recent COVID-19 crisis invited international scholars and experts in the field of religion, international law, and human rights.
Titled “COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea”, the webinar addressed the recent issues of aggressive attack from politically powerful conservative and fundamentalist Protestant churches in the country on a newly-established, fast-growing Christian denomination named 'Shincheonji (New Heaven and New Earth) Church of Jesus' founded in 1984.
The new Christian movement by Shincheonji has become a target of “persecution from fundamentalist protestants” because of its successful religious expansion “from the conservative and fundamentalist protestants who see Shincheonji as competitors and want to destroy it," said Massimo Introvigne as an Italian sociologist of religion who studied Shincheonji before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and published the first account of the religious group in English.
Alessandro Amicarelli, Chairman European Federation for Freedom of Belief, pointed out that the South Korean authorities problematized Shincheonji as a cause of the COVID-19 crisis to shut down the church. “Already 30 other people were tested positive before the patient 31 (a member of Shincheonji criticized for the widespread of the virus). Many Chinese including ones from Wuhan had visited Daegu (of South Korea) and infection spread,” he said.
Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), said that the recent attack on Shincheonji can be viewed as an attempt by the fundamentalist Protestant groups in South Korea to weaken and destroy the competitor in the religious market. He added, "Human rights violations against Shincheonji members through coercive conversion program (also known as 'deprogramming') with kidnapping and confinement for the last decade have been made as a result of the failure of competition from the Protestant churches in the country."
Ciaran Burke, Associate Professor in University of Derby, said that the South Korean health authorities explicitly link Shinchoenji and outbreak of the COVID-19 until now even though a greater link between the virus and confirmation cases has been found in other churches. He also expressed concerns over “collecting personal information of 300,000 domestic and international Shincheonji members by the government which is a possible violation of international agreement, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) South Korea ratified in 1990.”
The prosecution initiated investigation of Shincheonji leaders including founder Man Hee Lee for his alleged role in the widespread of the COVID-19. Three Shincheonji officials were arrested on July 8 on a charge of playing a role in major outbreak at its early stage by “(submitting) inaccurate list of members.”
“The authorities ignored requests to change the word ‘sect’ in their official reports when referring to Shincheonji church. Local governments encouraged the residents to report Shincheonji congregation and facilities to the authorities, creating stigma that the members were to be treated as criminals,” said a Shincheonji official in the webinar.
A recent statement issued by “families of the deceased and victims of COVID-19” wrote that "the thousands of the damage and deaths of Koreans reflect the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government." It added that the Minister of Justice Choo Mi-ae “allowed COVID-19 patients from China to enter Korea, leading to a widespread outbreak of the virus across the country, which resulted in the deaths of the Korean people.” It also stated that she is trying to avoid her responsibility for the damage by “giving direct orders to prosecutors for a raid and arrests against Shincheonji Church”.
A leading South Korean TV network, MBC reported that a recently conducted screening at Daegu, epicenter of COVID-19 major outbreak within South Korea added the weight to the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government. The report, citing analysis from a local university hospital, inferred that at least 180,000 of the total population of 2.4 million people in the city of Daegu were infected with the COVID-19, 27 times to the official 6,800 confirmed cases. Most of the confirmation cases, over 5,000, are members of Shincheonji Church as their personal information was collected by the government, while the remaining 180,000 potential infections have not been investigated.
AMBASSADOR OMRIE GOLLEY SUPPORTS HIS CHIEFDOM AND DISTRICT IN THE WAKE OF THE CORONA PANDEMIC AND RAMADAN
Bollore Transport and Logistics has on Thursday 23 April 2020 disclosed food items and Veronica Buckets set for distribution to Constituency 121, 122, Moa Wharf, the Disability Right Movement, School for the Blind and School for the Dumb and Deaf.
Addressing a cross-section of journalists at their Operations Office in Water Quay, Freetown, the Human Resource Manager for Bollore, Claurinda Morgan (Mrs.) said that the donation is in line with their numerous contributions to the deprived communities, and she disclosed further that the said items to be donated has to do with her institution’s support in the fight against the dreadful coronavirus and the food items is in support to the Muslim Community for the Ramadan/Fasting period.
She emphasized that the food items would contribute positive in the lives of people in such a period.
The Public Relations Officer for Bollore, Gassimu outlined that the items cut across veronica buckets, bags of rice, bags of onions, gallons of cooking oil, cartons of magi, cartons of tomato paste, bags of sugar, etc, worth Le177 million.
In his appreciation statements, the Executive Director for Disability Rights Movement (DRIM), Vandy Konneh commended Bollore saying that “Through your donation we will be able to intensify the protection of Persons with Disability and other vulnerable population against the Coronavirus Pandemic and continue working towards the protection and promotion of the rights of Persons with Disability and the Republic of Sierra Leone.”
PRESS RELEASE BY THE LIMBAS IN THE DIASPORA ON THE ARREST AND DETENTION OF MAJOR (RETIRED) ALFRED PAOLO CONTEH
The Limbas in the diaspora havelearnt that the government of President Julius Maada Bio has arrested and detained Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh, on allegation of conspiracy to commit treason, unlawful possession of arms and ammunition and other criminal charges.
We have been reliably informed that:
- President Bio had invited Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh to State House together with few other individuals that were at the helm in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in Sierra Leone between 2014 and 2016. And that, Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh and the other invitees were to go and share their expertise toward the Government of Sierra Leone’s preparedness against the Corona Virus pandemic.
- Senior executive members of the APC Party duly authorised and approved of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh’s attendance to President Bio’s call for a bi-partisan engagement on the fight against the COVID-19 in Sierra Leone.
- On arriving at State House on the 19th March 2020, Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh voluntarily handed over his bag containing his own licensed gun to the security there before proceeding to the office of the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP) for his eventual presentation meeting with President Bio and others concerned. The mode and timing of the voluntary handing over of the weapon is now the main dispute that has led to criminal charges.The State prosecution must provide CCTV footage of what transpired between Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh and the security at State House on this matter. WE SHALL CONSIDER ANYTHING SHORT OF THIS UNACCEPTABLE!!!
- The matter has now led to one Colonel (Retired) Saa Sinnah and one gentleman named Mr. Prince George Hughes, both being staff members of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, being charged for alleged unlawful licensing of the said gun that was in the possession of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh.
- Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh is detained at the Pademba Road prison on 24 hours solitary confinement, under egregious conditions with very limited access by his lawyers and a single visit by his wife, even before criminal charges against him had been proffered and still continuing even after the court had ordered for all the human rights of the detained prisoner to be upheld.
- The preliminary investigations on 3rd April 2020 at the Pademba Road magistrate court, was restricted to selected legal and media practitioners and civil society organisations, thus denying family members and well-wishers to witness the initial proceedings.
If the facts in 1 - 6 above are true, then, we would to like remind President Bio thus:
- Section 20(1) of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone provides for protection from inhumane treatment. We therefore urge the government to respect Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh’s right to dignity and humane treatment while in detention.
- An accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by virtue of section 23 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. We therefore urge the Director of Public Prosecution to provide the evidence supporting their chargesand hasten the trial. Since the government believes that Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh has a case to answer, we implore your expedient fair trial - for justice delayed is justice denied. Otherwise, we request the immediate release of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh from detention.
- Sierra Leone The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report is replete with accounts of how some members of the Limba ethnic group were falsely accused and extra-judicially executed. We are concerned about the preliminary investigations at the magistrate court and reports relating to the nefarious conditions on Paolo Conteh’s solitary confinement. We hope President Bio upholds his promise for national cohesion by ensuring thatmembers of the ethnic groups in Sierra Leone continue to peacefully live side by side in our nation’s rebirth with no suspicion by any one group that its members are vulnerable.
- We also call on President Bio to engage and work amicably with the APC Party National Executive for a swift trial and/or release of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh. Such a step will be in furtherance of national cohesion especially as Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh had received blessings of his APC party to go to State House and work with the President Bio-led government.
As we look forward to President’s Bio judicious action in the best interest of national cohesion, we would like him to know that this is a matter that we are following very closely.
Should anything untoward happens to Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh, we will not stop at anything to seek redress. We shall use the case of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh and the plethora of available evidence about human rights violations since Julius Maada Bio became president of the Republic of Sierra Leone to substantiate the fact that the statements in the TRC report President Julius Maada Bio and other members of his current government are cited to have made regarding the executions and associated violations of December 1992 were misleading; hence, the need for proper investigation by the International Criminal Court.
We shall undertake international legal campaign, rather than resort to internal skirmish, if justice is not seen to have been done speedily enough. If by the 10th April 2020, the preliminary investigations at the magistrate court on the treasons allegations against Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh do not go ahead or have him released, we shall commence a two-pronged approach thus: inform the moral guarantors to our national peace and sustain the services of international lawyers in the International Criminal Court to start the process leading to the indictment of President Julius Maada Bio and top officials in his government.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
Long live the Limba ethnic group!!!
Long live Sierra Leone!!!
Bollore, a transport and logistics company in Sierra Leone has donated hand washing materials worth 51 Million Leones to Moa Wharf and Sea Side communities.
The company handles shipment of cargo from abroad to Sierra Leone, and has been in operation for several years.
Veronica buckets, Milla tanks, Chlorine, soap and other hygiene materials were among the donated materials to the communities.
The donor promised to ensure that the beneficiary communities practise hand washing and other preventive measures to halt the spread of the Coronavirus, which was declared in Sierra Leone for the first time on March 31st 2020.
Meanwhile, during the presentation, Memuna Drame, Chief Finance Officer (CFO) for Bollore Company, in her statement recognised the importance of the two communities noting that Bollore is part of them. “This is not a private company helping a community, but Bollore is part of the community,” she said.
Drame also told journalists that the company had been implementing, temperature checks and social distancing and other restrictive measures to cut off the chain of transmission of the Virus.
Ensuring that customers act in accordance with the Corona Virus preventive measures was also emphasised by the CFO.
“We make sure that customers comply with the rules in respect of the Corona Virus prevention. To halt the spread of the virus is the reason the company has donated to this highly infectious communities,” she said.
Drame also assured the beneficiaries that the donated materials would be protected.
The Country Manager of Bollore Transport and Logistics, Captain Fabjanko Kokan was also present at the donation ceremony.
Kokan told the beneficiary communities that more donations would be made by the company.
“The donation today is just the first step, more donations are coming,” Kokan assured.
In his keynote address, he called on communities to act with unity and togetherness to defeat the Corona Virus.
“It is only when we act with solidarity that can we defeat the virus,” Kokan appealed.
Some dignitaries particularly women represented their communities at the donation ceremony.
Among them were the Chairman and the Section Chief of the communities, Lamin Bangura and Chief Alhaji Pa Alimamy Conteh respectively.
In his contribution, Lamin Bangura appreciated the donated materials and thanked the donor.
He said the donation was timely in such a trying moment facing the country.
Also making his voice heard at the donation ceremony, Chief Pa Alimamy Conteh referred to the donation as the first to be undertaken by a company.
During the occasion, Chief Conteh appealed to the community residents to be law abiding and compliant with the hand washing and other rules pronounced by government.
“No one knows the danger side of the law until when one is trapped,” Chief Conteh warned.
Apart from the donation, Bollore has been supporting fishing activities in the beneficiary communities to improve livelihoods.
Fishing in those riverine communities is the key economic and livelihood activity among others.
Bollore’s support to the fishermen is one of the greatest corporate philanthropies to the communities who appreciate the donor.
Sierra Leone has, for the past two days, recorded a case of Corona Virus marking the beginning of a health disaster.
Bollore’s donation of the hand washing materials is a response to the President’s call during the announcement of the index case on 31st March 2020.