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Each year St Edward¹s supports a number of good causes. We try to focus on things where we have personal links and which we really know about. The Chapter has decided to support an orphanage in Sierra Leone with which Marcus Ramshaw has links through friends working in Sierra Leone. He will be visiting immediately after Easter, and there will be an opportunity for him to tell us more when he gets back, but here is some basic information about the project.
The orphanage, east of Freetown, was founded in 1996 to take care of children orphaned and abandoned as a result of the civil war which has devastated the country. It is a Christian-run, community-based organisation which accepts destitute and homeless children regardless of religion or ethnic background. All of the children have tragic backgrounds. Some were found abandoned after rebels had attacked their villages, some were present when their parents met with brutal deaths, some do not know if their parents are still alive.
The orphanage had to vacate their initial, very primitive premises last year, and they have been raising funds for a new building, a basic structure on land that has been given them. A local architect drew up plans without charge and local companies are providing materials and labour at cost. They have raised most of the funds needed, and the new building has just been opened. The orphanage has so far assisted 463 children, some of whom have been adopted by foster parents, and at the present time 60 children are resident. In addition to the Orphanage, there is also a Primary School, a Vocational Centre and a Foster Parents Anti-Poverty Programme.
Funds are desperately needed to finally meet the costs of the new orphanage and to equip it properly. Some of the urgent needs are for such things as sealed water containers, kerosene lamps, a small generator, kitchen and laundry bowls, plastic bowls and mugs for the children. Regular supplies of nutritional food and medical treatment are always urgently needed, including toiletries and basic medicines. Children¹s clothes are always needed too. A recent visitor wrote, “I was so impressed by the dedication of all concerned in running it that I decided to try to give what little assistance I could. I am sure anyone else visiting it would be as equally impressed.”