In July I volunteered alongside members of the Conservative Party in Sierra Leone, as part of Project Umubano, the Conservative International Social Action Project. During my time in Sierra Leone, I spent a day volunteering with the Kambia District Development & Rehabilitation Organisation (KADDRO) on a livelihoods project supported by the UK aid agency CAFOD.
CAFOD first started working with partners in Kambia, a district in the Northern province of Sierra Leone, through DFID funded work to provide safe and dignified burials during the Ebola Crisis, and are now working to ensure that vulnerable people in Kambia have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Helping families get their produce from field to market
KADDRO’s mission is to increase agricultural production and promote access to markets in Kambia district through improved access to land, provision of inputs, skill development and business development services.
During my day with KADDRO, I met with Mohamed Abdul Mansaray, the director of KADDRO, and a group of 33 vegetable growers from the Bassah Bendu community, who are being supported to build their own vegetable gardens. I was given a warm welcome by the chairlady of the group, Marie Diamond Kamara, and shown around the gardens, where members of the group are growing cassava, corn, cucumbers, peppers and okra.
These gardens provide members of the community with a sustainable source of food and a small business opportunity. The group of vegetable growers are also involved in a new savings and loans scheme which provides loans to members to start their own small vegetable businesses, selling their excess produce.
Sharing business tips
In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to share some business tips with the group, and we worked together to develop a plan for a new market within the community. After the session, Pa Momodu Kamara, one of the vegetable growers said: “I’m glad for this business idea. Instead of walking 3 or 4 miles to sell our produce, we will come together and have our own market, and buyers will come to us”.
Providing safe water to drink
I also attended the commissioning of a new Borehole in the community, alongside the town chief Momoh Kamara, members of the vegetable group, members of the wider community and KADDRO and CAFOD staff.
The borehole will provide clean, safe drinking water to the community of Bassah Bendu for the first time in five years, reducing the incidence of waterborne disease, and dramatically improving people’s quality of life.
At this time, my thoughts are with all those who have lost their lives and been affected by the recent mudslides in Freetown, and with all those who are working hard to help people rebuild their lives following this disaster.