By Amos Fofung
As way of complementing government’s Free Quality Education, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation based in the United States of America has donated 80 million Leones worth of school materials to vulnerable children in ten schools through its youth Empowerment Project learning material support to the less privilege in Moyamba District, Southern Sierra Leone.
The donation targeted ten schools in the Moyamba District with each of the school receiving one hundred bags and one hundred books as part of the one thousand vulnerable school children targeted as a way of helping them with school materials.
Prior to that the Foundation led its CEO Francis Senesie with support from his wife Wendy Senesie had donated an assorted consignment of Personal Protective Equipment to help some communities cope with the COVID 19 pandemic.
With the development challenges facing Sierra Leone, the Senesie Foundation is angling to be a key partner in complementing efforts from the government. Discussing the Foundation in an interview with PAV, Francis Senesie, a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC, says plans are in gestation to expand its initiatives and projects to other parts of the country.
Could we start with an introduction of the Senesie Foundation that you lead, when was it created and what is its mission?
The Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation is a charitable organization based in United State of America with an establishment in Sierra Leone. The purpose of the organization is to intervene in the lives of vulnerable children, youth and vulnerable women (aged) through education and also the provision of individualized rehabilitated services such as counselling and pro poor activities.
The Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation has a vision to develop children, youth, and women to contribute to chiefdom, district and national development.
The mission of the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation is also to actively engage the children, youth, women in social life and innovative approach in developing themselves. By doing so, they continue in building and sustaining development in line with our motor which is developing the community to develop the nation.
Since its creation, what are some of the achievements that the Senesie Foundation has registered since its creation?
The creation of the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation in June 2020 coincided with the Covid 19 pandemic which affected the vulnerable and the country at large. Though young, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation deemed it necessary to join the Sierra Leone Government in fighting the pandemic. In fighting the covid 19, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation provided assorted food items, face masks, infrared thermometers, and sanitary supplies to more than hundred (100) families and households in Moyamba District. These items were distributed under the supervision of the stakeholders in District.
Recently the Foundation made a huge donation estimated at 80 million Leones worth of school materials to vulnerable children in ten schools in the Moyamba district, Southern Sierra Leone, can you shed some light on this?
In October 2020, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation donated over Eighty Million Leones (80,000,000) worth of school materials to ten schools in the Moyamba District in the Southern Region Sierra Leone. This was done as way to complement the Government of Sierra Leone flagship programme which is the Free Quality Education launched by His Excellency Retired Julius Maada Bio. Education is something we cherish, and we believe that with our contribution, we can complement the worthy efforts that the government is putting in.
May we know why you focused on education and Moyamba district?
Education is of importance not just to the young people we seek to uplift, but also for the future of the country. With education, opportunities are opened for young people who can in turn contribute to building a better Sierra Leone. Moyamba District is just a starting point. We had to start from somewhere, and considering the educational challenges facing the Moyamba District, we believe that from that we can slowly but steadily expand to other parts of the country.
What mechanisms do you have in place to ensure that the donations get to those in need and are used for the intended purpose?
We worked with authorities in the District in compiling the list of vulnerable and needed pupils who got support from the Foundation. The process was open and very transparent. Those kids are the future Teachers, Doctors, Engineers, Nurses, and so on. This is just the beginning and there is much more that will be coming from the Senesie Foundation in the years ahead.
At what point should other parts of Sierra Leone expect to benefit from such initiatives from the Senesie Foundation?
The other parts of the Country in Sierra Leone expect benefit from the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation as soon as possible. We decided to start it at this level because there is an adage which says that a little drop of water makes a mighty ocean. Charity begins at home and ends abroad. Whatever initiatives you are embarking on start with your very self. Definitely we will get to the other parts of Sierra Leone, it will just be a matter of time.
Looking at the current situation or state of Sierra Leone, in what way do you think Foundations like yours and others could help in meeting the development needs of the country?
There are lots of ways in meeting the development of Sierra Leoneans especially when the country is going through economic challenges. As I mentioned earlier, during COVID 19, we contributed safety material to people. The government cannot be expected to do everything for the people. We must do our part and Foundations like ours can contribute in small and modest ways to support government action in making a difference in the lives of our people. There are other Foundations doing great work, and we encourage others to take other initiatives that could help bring development to the people of Sierra Leone especially those in the rural areas of the country. Because we knew that the Covid 19 might have affected the parents in terms of business, farming and education, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation thought it wise to come to the aid of the parents in providing learning materials in order to cushion the challenges.
What are some of the challenges that the Senesie Foundation has faced in its mission so far?
As a young Foundation, the start is certainly always challenging .The Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation went through a lot of odds during the distribution of the learning materials to the beneficiaries, especially when the programme took place during the raining season. To access these areas during the raining season it was exceedingly difficult, but due to an incredibly good team spirit, my staff were able to navigate their way to various locations. Challenges will always be there, from funding of our projects, to expansion to other parts of the country and so on, but the Foundation will be up the task. Where there is the will, there will always be the means. Our Foundation is resolute in its commitment to make a difference in the lives of young Sierra Leoneans and contributing in its own modest quota in the overall development of that great, beautiful and promising country.
Any projections for the future, what should the people of Sierra Leone expect from the Senesie Foundation and its leadership?
Our journey of a thousand miles has just begun. We will continue to build on the successes of our recent initiatives, work on putting in place our structures across the country and expanding our programs. The vision of the Foundation is big and there is still much work needed to put everything in place. Definitely expect the Foundation to shift gears when it comes to its engagement with your people. You should also expect to see programmes of the Foundation expanding slowly but steadily to other Districts across Sierra Leone.