CODE and its partner in Sierra Leone, PEN-Sierra Leone, are thrilled to be getting a helping hand with their programming from the crews of two visiting Royal Canadian Navy vessels. On Monday, March 20th, sailors from the HMCS Summerside and the HMCS Moncton will take to shore for a trip to Aberdeen Municipal School in Freetown to participate in a group reading of CODE’s locally produced Reading Sierra Leone children’s books. The books will be presented to the school by Willy Rangira – CODE’s program manager for Sierra Leone. The marines and sailors will interact with school children and will also help build and install shelves in the school library.
CODE’s Executive Director, Scott Walter, is delighted that CODE’s programming has once again been selected as an example of Canada’s ongoing support of development through education. Last October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited CODE’s programming in Liberia.
“The ability to read and write is the very foundation of what children need to grow into independent learners and problem solving adults who can navigate the world around them”. -CODE Executive Director, Scott Walter
The Aberdeen school outreach is part of the RCN’s broader Neptune Trident 17-01 mission to strengthen Canada’s relationship with West Africa and to retrace historical footsteps connected to Nova Scotia. The city of Freetown was settled by Nova Scotians who were once free slaves that had migrated up to Nova Scotia during the American Revolution. In 1792, 1500 of these freed slaves boarded two vessels and crossed the stormy Atlantic to settle in Freetown. The journey has particular meaning for Lieutenant Commander Paul Smith, the commanding officer of the HCMS Summerside. Lt.-Cmdr Smith is the first black captain of a sea-going Canadian Navy Ship. The HMCS Moncton is commanded by Lt.-Cmdr Nicole Robichaud.
The High Commissioner for Canada to Sierra Leone, Heather Cameron, will be attending the school activity along with local members of the education community in Freetown and CODE’s volunteer expert and Reading Sierra Leone program developer Dr. Charles Temple.
High Commissioner Cameron is hosting the initial event on Sunday March 19th highlighting the rich historical ties between Canada and Sierra Leone and marking the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. This coincides with the 225th anniversary of the founding of Freetown and will take place on board the HMCS Summerside and the HMCS Moncton. CODE’s Willy Rangira and PEN’s Mohammed Sheriff will attend the reception along with Alhajie Sallieu Kanu from Reading Sierra Leone’s other local partner, TALLE (The Association of Language and Literacy Educators). Other guests will include the Canadian expat community in Freetown and Sierra Leonean dignitaries – including the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, and the Ministers of Tourism and Education.
The Reading Sierra Leone program is entirely funded by CODE and loyal Canadian supporters.