Rewriting the Story for Literacy in West Africa

Home School Kits of Hope: An urgent response to Ebola crisis injects hope

Michael’s tone was urgent, breathless. “You must send help. We must help. Please.”

When the Ebola crisis hit West Africa, Michael Weah, the Executive Director of CODE’s Liberian partner the WE-CARE Foundation, didn’t ask for surgical masks or a medical outpost. He asked for books. Michael watched in desperation as schools were closed and barricaded, entire neighbourhoods were sealed off with plastic sheeting and panic was rising as fast as hope was fading.

Michael and his team promised to deliver “Home School Kits of Hope” to as many children as he could reach who were housebound with nothing to do. Each kit contained books, notebooks, pencils and information about protecting oneself from Ebola.

In less than three months, CODE donors and partners came together and with your amazing support we surpassed our fundraising goal of $60,000 and distributed 15,702 kits to 135 communities in 11 counties in Liberia. Thanks to this incredible support, children going through a very difficult time were able to take their minds off the devastation around them by diving into entertaining stories.

15,702 kits, 11 counties, 135 communities

Today, schools in Liberia and Sierra Leone have reopened and kids are back in class. But our work is not over. Kids need to catch up on the education they missed so they can continue to learn, hope and dream.

With the generous support of two private donors, we have developed six new supplementary reading books for primary school children, all written and illustrated by local Sierra Leone talents and featuring stories, poetry and informational text that builds on ideas and themes from the story. Here’s an example: I Fooled You! features four texts connected to the theme of tricking and tricksters:

  • Monkey and Shark is a retelling of a traditional folktale
  • Ami and Sali is an original work of animal fiction
  • The Tricky One is a poem emphasizing the concept of opposites
  • Magic Tricks is an informational piece that shows two clever magic tricks children can learn and perform

You see, CODE’s intervention in the Ebola crisis was not only an urgent and immediate response to keep children engaged in learning during the crisis, but it was also an injection into rebuilding the education system in these fragile states. Your support provides books, empowers teachers and, one step at a time, we are bringing sustainable and engaging education programs back to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Thank you!


Thursday, September 3, 2015
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