Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa. It lies on the Atlantic Ocean and is known for its white-sandy beaches lining the Freetown Peninsula. Freetown is the capital city, which commemorates the nation’s slave-trade history with the Cotton Tree landmark.
Sierra Leone has been known for a decade of civil war, that caused destruction of lives and also robbed its communities of basic necessities. I had the privilege of visiting Sierra Leone recently, a country that was once known as the Gold Coast of West Africa.
Despite the recent tragedies caused by natural disasters, some will also say man-made, Sierra Leone is rarely seen celebrating or cheering for success within its communities or the country. When you visit during the dry season or the holidays especially during Christmas and new Year holidays, all you see is smiles of people all over the capital city, Freetown, celebrating another holiday towards the end of a year.
My main reason for visiting Sierra Leone was to attend a family event and of course perform humanitarian work. While I would like to visit more often, my itinerary always includes humanitarian work while I visit Sierra Leone.
In December, 2021, my visit to Freetown started off with a mentorship event. Event was organized by Community Hands Organization, Inc. (CHO), a registered non-profit providing for orphans, less privileged communities and our recent inclusion of mentorship for women. I happen to be an executive member of CHO. Entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone offers little or no resources for women who have skills that can be developed into a small business with a potential for growth. Most of these young women that would like a chance to start-up have the skills but lack general business management or work force skills to do the research or approach banks if needed for business start-up financing.
On December 27th, our first women’s empowerment event hosted by CHO was held. We invited guest speakers who had gone through the pros and cons of starting a business in Freetown. Among our mentees were, designers/Seamstresses, Hair Stylists, Law students, Caterers aspiring to run their restaurants, Business Management students who are eager to start consulting firms, local Non -Governmental Organization (NGO) administrators who also wanted to learn how to be better at humanitarian work and manage a registered NGO.
The event was a huge success. We had offers for four paid internships of which two are in the process of being recruited and also the potential for others to have access to investment opportunities. These interns will not only learn how to manage their future businesses, they earn an income, and the opportunity to learn basic digital and professional communication skills. Local mentors also stressed on the ease of business registration but mentees must work with their mentors and learn the process and details of business registration. This event was a WIN, WIN all round. We as an organization want to be part of a paradigm shift. Baby steps, but we are making head way.
Two days after the women’s mentorship event, CHO provided groceries at Saint George’s Seniors Home in Grafton, so the residents can have several warm and hearty holiday meals.
Day three and final day of humanitarian work was feeding the orphans and less privilege at Defend Them Young, a local non-profit home in Waterloo. It was a delight to feed these children and provide clothing and school supplies. If you’ll like to DONATE towards our various humanitarian projects, please do so via https://www.communityhandsorganization.org
Now my humanitarian work is done. Vacation is in full force in Sierra Leone. The down side, we had a lot of Covid 19 restrictions so I made a decision to cancel my tours. Many families and friends were visiting from the diaspora; therefore, it was fun hanging out. My favorite restaurants were Cole Street Guest House & Boutique Restaurant in Murray Town and The Hub Hotel & Restaurant at Wilberforce. I stayed at Radisson Blue Mammy Yoko Hotel in Freetown.
The hotel offered comfortable rooms and the restaurant was serving up a variety menu including our favorite local Sierra Leonean dishes.
Driving through the city was chaotic due to hundreds of visitors from the diaspora driving around town, coupled with the locals hanging out during the holidays. The best advice for visitors is to hire a rental car with air conditioner and a driver. Check out Visit Sierra Leone and Hello Sierra Leone for more details.
What to do while visiting Sierra Leone
Banana Island Tour
Bunce Island Tour
Mambo Waterfalls Tour
Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
No. 2 Beach
National Railway Museum
Restaurants I Loved:
Cole Street Guest House & Boutique Restaurant
Kings View, Sussex
The Hub at Wilberforce
Dupsal Resort Restaurant
Hotels or Guest Houses Recommended:
Radisson Blue Mammy Yoko Hotel
Cole Street Guest House
Dupsal Resort, Sussex
Enjoy Mama Sa Lone!