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Berichte der Afrikanischen Allianz der CVJM

World YMCA News Letter - 1. October 2014

Report from the Field: Christian Kamara, National General Secretary of the YMCA of Sierra Leone reports that the YMCA continues to work to eradicate Ebola. The YMCA is working in collaboration with other organisations in this effort. Christian sends his thanks to all supporters for their solidarity and financial assistance during this crisis. Below is an update and summary of the situation, the work of the YMCA, the government and other organisations.

The YMCA works to eradicate Ebola:

Distribution of veronica buckets and hand wash materials at specific spots in Freetown and Kenema

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Eleven Veronica Buckets (buckets with taps) were distributed to other locations outside YMCA’s operational areas. Targeted spots are: Dworzack Junction, Leicester Road Junction, Fort Street Attaya Base Organization, Sackville Street, and Up-gun round about. The target beneficiaries at these spots are: first, the motor bike riders(Okada riders) second, the passengers who board thebikes and third, the youth who gather at the Attaya Base as social discussants. The bike riders from different Bike Riders’ Associations (BRA) were engaged and sensitised by YMCA Ebola Prevention Team on the relevance of proper hand wash for them and the passengers. They have embraced the idea and the use of Ebola prevention materials is in use. YMCA Ebola task force also provides the hand wash materials (hand wash buckets, soap and chlorine) to two posts in its host community (Soja Tong) in Freetown.

The YMCA Regional Management term of Eastern Sierra Leone, also delivered Ebola preventive items to YMCA Kailahun and conducted a brief rehearsal with two selected peer educators for quality performance of duties as assigned. The items distributed include: No Item Description Quantity 1 Veronica bucket (with tap) for hand wash pcs 10 2 Megaphone ( for peer education) pcs 2 3 T-shirts ( to identify peer educators with their task) pcs 30 4 Posters, flyers etc (IEC materials) pcs 30 5 Chlorine (for hand wash) Bad (plastic) 1 6 GIV soap ( for hand wash) carton 2 7 Vinnic battery ( for megaphone) carton 1

Peer Educators Ebola Prevention Outreach Campaign in Freetown and Kenema

Post training supports were provided to the community volunteers, such as, IEC materials (megaphones, posters, tap buckets etc) for effective community awareness raising. The YMCA has scheduled ten (10) targeted communities for awareness raising campaigns using the IEC materials distributed.

A total of 450 peer educators have been trained by YMCA (100 Volunteers of YMCA and 350 community members). Each peer educator is expected to target 5 peers per day. As per estimation, 450 peer educators have targeted 5 persons each daily for a period of 60 days (2 months) giving a, estimated total of 135,000 people reached so far. This information stands for all YMCA operational communities in Sierra Leone.

Each targeted community has a volunteer responsible for the mass sensitisation using the megaphone. For every sensitisation session, some of the trained community volunteers will converge and work around the community in group for recognition and the attraction of public attention for effective information sharing among community members across the communities. Peer educators also engage community members at their individual residents to actually preach the Ebola messages. Questions and answers are accepted and appropriate responses have been widely encouraged.

Production and airing of TV jingle

In the bid to scale up campaign in Freetown, other towns and hard-to-reach communities in Sierra Leone, YMCA have produced a viewer-friendly and more educative TV jingle aim at educating wider audience on Ebola prevention and control.

The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC) TV has started airing the jingle. It’s a simple message that has to do with prevention messages from the NGS/CEO of the Sierra Leone YMCA.

Additional activities which Sierra Leone YMCA have implemented The following activities are not part of this emergency appeal but are complementary activities which Sierra Leone YMCA have implemented in response to the Ebola outbreak.

SMS messages

The Sierra Leone YMCA have contracted a company called txt connect to work out an SMS Ebola message that will reach out to 2,000 people per day with different preventive messages and with different set of audiences per day. So far the YMCA has received very positive feedback from those who have received such text messages. The YMCA hopes to reach out to 60,000 people on different mobile network’s within one month. It will cost about 4,500USD for three months to be able to reach out to 180,000 people within three months and although not originally included in the emergency appeal budget, it will be included now as over the funds requested have been pledged.

Food Ration Distribution

The Sierra Leone YMCA was contracted by the World Food Programme to distribute food rations to 10 Slum communities before the lock down on the 17th and 18th September whilst a further partnership was established to distribute additional food ration during the lock down on the 19th -21st September to quarantined homes and hospitals. A total of 124 YMCA volunteer’s, mainly young people, from the Sierra Leone YMCA participated in this event, 5 of these volunteers have also benefitted from the peer education training. The food rations were provided by the World Food Programme.

Distribution of Solidarity Rice

As Ebola Virus Disease continue to plague YMCA operational communities causing death and still infecting bread winners and household heads, the national Council of YMCAs in Sierra Leone has deemed it necessary to contribute to the nutritional needs of its staff and members by distributing rice to staff and volunteers.

A total of 270 bags of Rice were distributed to YMCA staff and volunteers with support from CVJM West Bund in Germany whilst the YMCA Driving Doctor health project distributed 220 bags of rice to the District Medical Offices in Bo, Port Loko and Freetown and also to pregnant and lactating mothers in Taiama and Tinkonko.

Africa Alliance of YMCAs News Letter – 07. 08. 2014

The YMCA of Sierra Leone have bravely undertaken awareness raising campaigns within their communities to help halt the spread of the Ebola virus in their region. In order to continue their work, the YMCA is in desperate need of resources and financial support. You can find more information on how to assist the YMCA below.

The YMCA of Sierra Leone’s emergency appeal is to raise resources to eradicate Ebola disease in Sierra Leone and to institute measures that will enhance timely surveillance and reporting of potential or future outbreak of the epidemic.

The emergency programme’s objectives are:

  • Increase community awareness on and enhance capacity for Ebola disease prevention and control.
  • To prevent spread of Ebola disease through supply of chlorine and washing soap to household members
  • To implement a prevention and response strategy to on-going Ebola outbreaks throughout the country.

The YMCA of Sierra Leone will undertake the following activities:

  • Convene weekly committee meetings at community level to assess eradication status of deadly disease.
  • Train 500 community health volunteers in health and hygiene promotion in 5 districts who were provided with chlorine and information materials for distribution at household levels and disseminate Ebola prevention messages through peer education using megaphones.
  • Disseminate Ebola prevention messages on community radios: air jingles on Ebola prevention and control over the radio; weekly radio discussion and phone-in programmes.
  • Organise Community sensitisation meetings targeting traditional leaders, Councillors, Religious leaders, women leaders, youth leaders, food handlers, well owners, teachers, in the affected areas
  • Print and distribute appropriate information materials (posters, flyer and booklet).
  • Distribution of chlorine and washing soaps to households in target communities.
  • Provide mobile handsets that will enable community members to call Ebola hotline in reporting cases.

For more information and to provide your support:
Christian Kamara, NGS Sierra Leone YMCA

Africa Alliance of YMCAs News Letter – 24. 07. 2014

The Sierra Leone YMCA regrets to announce the passing of Rev. Fred Musa Karimu, former National General Secretary of the Sierra Leone YMCA. He passed away on Tuesday, 15 July 2014, at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown at the age of 72.

Fred, as he was fondly called, joined the YMCA in 1980 as a volunteer from his hometown in Kailahun before being employed as a member of staff in the dark and challenging era of our beloved nation’s civil war during the 1990s. He served the Sierra Leone YMCA as Refugee Secretary during this period, exhibiting his passion for service to humanity and dexterity in the distribution of relief resources to the internally displaced in Sierra Leone and refugees in Guinea. This passion was mostly directed towards the transformation of the lives of our young folks whom he always referred to as “the gems of our nation”. It was this same passion that motivated him to apply for and attain the position of National General Secretary in 2000 which he held until 2006. When he knew that he had reached his optimum and could no longer offer anything new to the Sierra Leone-Y he voluntarily retired to allow one of the vibrant youths he personally nurtured to assume the office. This was the turning point for the SLYMCA. A remarkable decision that remains unparalleled to this day.

Fred’s tenure as NGS was challenging. It was during a delicate period in our country, the transition period from conflict to post-conflict, from relief to development. He was able to run a series of youth development programmes, especially those aimed at skills’ acquisition by young people, to address the middle level manpower gap in post-conflict Sierra Leone. He was instrumental in the establishment of the YMCA Skills Training Centre in Kenema which has served over 1,500 young people since 2001 in acquiring marketable skills in trades like carpentry, masonry, tailoring and weaving. This Centre has now been transformed into a Technical and Vocational Training Centre that currently serves over 100 young people on annual basis and has trained and resettled ex-combatants in various parts of the Eastern Region. He should also be credited with the designing of several HIV/AIDS awareness raising programmes that were implemented in the Northern region of the country and the pioneering of a scholarship programme for school going kids.

After his retirement from active management service, Fred decided to return home to support and volunteer at his local YMCA which is now engaged in agricultural activities. He actively participated in national YMCA activities and would always visit the National Office from morning till evening whenever he visited Freetown. He had shown great interest in our youth empowerment programmes and always took pleasure in supporting young people whenever he was given the opportunity. Fred attended many international YMCA conferences including the World Council meeting in Mexico and several Africa Alliance of the YMCAs meetings. Fred’s death is a shock to us as a YMCA family. He will be remembered for his electrifying humour in addition to his love for humanity and attachment to young people. His humour always came into play to ease tense moments during deadlines or when the Association was in dire need of funds. He would always say: “I will serve the YMCA till death”; a vow he upheld as he continued in serve as adviser to his local branch in Kailahun until his death. His enthusiasm for volunteerism is unprecedented.

Our dear friend, colleague and brother has left us with some legacies:

  • To live life to the full.
  • To avoid taking life too seriously.
  • To smile a lot – it’s infectious.
  • To invest in our young people, “the gems of Africa”.
  • To be nice to beneficiaries, professional colleagues and people in general.
  • To love your family, job, social life, hobbies, and never lose your zest for life.

Fred is survived by his wife and seven lovely children, they will need our support. You will never be forgotten Fredo. You lived a fulfilled life. Continue to rest in the Lord.

Source: Christian Kamara, Sierra Leone YMCA

Africa Alliance of YMCAs News Letter – 20. 06. 2014

On 4 June 2014, the leadership of the Sierra Leone YMCA, led by the National General Secretary, were honoured to visit the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, to acquaint His Excellency with our activities, general operations and service to humanity. The National General Secretary shared the impact of our activities with young people and even took one of the beneficiaries to share his story on advocacy with the President. Added to our discussion was to engage the President in supporting our $1.2 million youth development centre project in Makeni. The Minister of Youth Affairs told the President that the Sierra Leone YMCA is one the few NGOs that are credible and results oriented, offering much support to young people, and that it has developed a strong working relationship with his ministry. In responding, the President thanked the YMCA for its work with young people and assured us of his personal and government’s aid in supporting our programmes. He assured the YMCA he will participate in our youth development programmes.

He encouraged the YMCA to continue working on livelihood and Governance programmes in order to transform the lives of young people from being subject to citizens so that they are able to support the socio-economic growth of this country.

As partners in development, the Sierra Leone YMCA fully recognises and shares His Excellency’s vision in rebuilding the infrastructure and empowering the youth population of our beloved nation.

The YMCA will now work through the Youth Affairs Ministry in seeking further support from government as the commitment has already been made by the President.

Source: Sierra Leone YMCA

The YMCA Sierra Leone would not be successful if it wasn’t for the help all of its dedicated partners. Aside from the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, the YMCA of Sierra Leone has numerous other partners that contribute to the ongoing success of the organization. I was fortunate to be able to work with a few of them directly including CODOSAPA and YCare International. CODOSAPA is an NGO based in Sierra Leone that works with the YMCA-SL on the recently completed slum project and will continue to work with our Slum team for the extension and expansion of this program. Through the funding provided by Comic Relief UK, this project, which begun August 2013 and will last five years, will build on the successful slum-upgrading project implemented in Freetown from 2007-2012.

This project has so far enabled 20,000 slum dwellers access clean water, approximately 800 young people were supported with livelihood interventions, 2,500 slum dwellers gained access to savings/credit, and it also led to local government agreeing to abolish forced evictions in a target community. CODOSAPA staff always accompanied me when I visited the slums and they have a strong relationship with the YMCA-SL.

Another partner I was able to communicate directly with on a regular basis was YCare International. YCare International oversees many of our different projects, helps in designing new projects and works to secure future funding. There is a new project that YMCA-SL is currently in the phase of designing, and I worked with YCare International on the planning stages of this project throughout my internship. This will be a multi-regional, multi-country project aimed at food security for people working in the informal economy. The plan is to strengthen resource-limited rural youth security cooperatives engaged in agriculture and food security. YCare helped us to design the needs assessment tools as well as provided funding for us to carry out our research. I met multiple staff over the six months from YCare who visited to monitor all programs and operations at the YMCA Sierra Leone.

Another partner that I got to speak with frequently is the YMCA of Germany (CVJM Stift Quernheim). They play an important role for the Driving Doctor project (which I have always been most interested in) as well as different youth exchange programs. Since the project started in 2007, the YMCA-SL has seen many successes within the communities where we are operating. Zero stillbirths have occurred and the maternal mortality rate has been reduced to 0% in these regions. There has also been a dramatic decrease in STIs and 85% of patients had reported improved health as of June 2013. This success was achieved with relatively simple and inexpensive equipment and a highly motivated team of local staff. Many German staff members visited throughout my stay and I really enjoyed discussing multiple new project options for the YMCA Sierra Leone.

Although these are the partners who I was able to work directly with, the YMCA has a list of many other partners who are so critical to their success. The YMCA Sierra Leone also has close relationships with Y-USA and Y-Liberia. In Sierra Leone, the YMCA also works with the Ministry of Youth Education and Sports – SL, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security SL, Defense for Children International (DCI) – SL, FCC – Freetown City Council and the Ministry of Gender Women and Children’s Affairs. A big thank you for all the helpful advice I was given from the various partners and hoping many more years of great partnerships for the YMCA Sierra Leone!

By Kimberley B

Makuta was just 5 years old when brutal civil war broke out in Sierra Leone. Over eleven years, the war robbed 1 million kids like Makuta of their childhood & their education. Many children became soldiers and were forced to bear arms. Many lost their parents, or were displaced, left with serious physical and emotional scars.

Makuta survived, and is now a mother of two. But she and 800,000 young people in Sierra Leone have been left uneducated and unemployed, in need of job training. Many like Makuta rely on prostitution or petty trading for their basic needs.

The YMCA in Sierra Leone helps to rebuild the lives of young people. The YMCA career training school gives youth the skills they need to run their own business, or find employment as mechanics, caterers, electricians and more. From child of war to entrepreneur; these skills literally make all the difference for these youth.

MyY has given Makuta hope: “I enrolled in the YMCA catering program. If I can find work in a big hotel or restaurant, I could turn our lives around. I could give my babies the future they dream about.” The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka and the YMCA of Sierra Leone work in partnership to inspire youth to reach their potential as global citizens. This season, we celebrate youth worldwide with our holiday greetings card, and we are asking for your help. Making a donation to our international efforts will give someone like Makuta the best gift of all – hope.

A one-time gift of $50 could provide a uniform for a career training student. A gift of $20/month would cover the costs of one student for a year.

A little about Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a country so rich with desirable natural resources that it could have been one of the wealthiest countries in the world. This West African country borders the Atlantic Ocean and is full of rain forests, gemstones, coffee, cocoa plants, and most notably diamond. These diamonds, better known as blood diamonds, helped fuel the violence and death in a devastating 11 year civil war, from 1991-2002.

More than 50,000 people lost their lives, and more than 2 million others were displaced. The war devastated the economy; life expectancy rates sat low at a mere 43 years old, while infant mortality rates sky rocketed with 145 deaths per 1000 births. And even those that made it past childhood were hindered by the high prevalence of HIV/ AIDS, or the inequalities in rights and employment for youth and women. For years, this country was seen as nothing more than a lost cause, and has been marked as the worst place to live.

Source: YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

On 17 January 2014, a three day GOP meeting that brought together three partners of Sierra Leone YMCA, namely Simcoe YMCA-Canada, Western Federation of Germany YMCA and Y-Care International, was successfully concluded in Freetown at the Sierra Leone YMCA headquarters. The Global Operating Plan (GOP) focuses on ensuring National Movements have a clear vision and mission, are socially relevant and remain institutionally viable.

The process gives all partners working with the National Movement a better understanding of progress, challenges and impact over a period of time. In attendance in the meeting was the NGS of Kenya YMCA, Staff of YMCA from the YMCA Headquarters, Staff from the Regions and Branches as well as volunteers. The highlight of the meeting was the sharing of the social development and livelihood programmes undertaken by YMCA during the year 2013 and the milestones so far registered through the interventions. The accounts report as well as the future plans crafted under the thematic strategy of SLOP were also shared during the meeting.

The meeting was spiced up with beneficiary stories, field visits to the Branches and project areas, and an open discussion of the reports. What came out clearly was the fact that Sierra Leone YMCA's interventions were contributing immensely to the social and economic transformation of the youth in that country. At the end of the meeting, the partners registered their appreciation for the good work undertaken by YMCA in transforming youth with few financial resources. Added to the GOP meeting was capacity building through the training in Communications and brand development and capital campaigns. The need for such training was based on the 2014 focus of the Sierra Leone YMCA to increase their visibility in the country as the best youth serving organisation as reflected in the Youth Excellence award they received in May 2013 and their desire to embark on infrastructural development.

By Jared Musima, Kenya YMCA National General Secretary

Video Update: Sierra Leone YMCA has been awarded the best Youth Serving Organisation at the first Youth Excellence Awards in Freetown.

The hard work of Sierra Leone YMCA, supporting young people and their families has been recognised by the Youth Excellence Awards – a national event in Sierra Leone which recognises young people and youth-serving organisations who achieve great things in challenging environments.

Winners were recognised for their achievements including entrepreneurship, sports, social activism, media, environmental conservation, and the arts. This year’s ‘Shine a light’ theme celebrated Sierra Leone’s unsung youth heroes and inspirational role models.

Sierra Leone YMCA’s team clinched the award after showing the range of their work supporting young people and their families living in slums.

Since 2007, with the support of Y Care International, they have helped provide safe, clean drinking water for 10,000 slum dwellers, trained 771 young people in a vocational skill, and given young people the skills and confidence to engage with local and national decision makers to improve their communities. Young slum dwellers in a further eight communities in Freetown are also due to receive this life-changing support over the next five years.

“I’m proud of our team to be recognised by a national award,” said Christian Martyn Kamara, National General Secretary of Sierra Leone YMCA.

“This signifies how far the YMCA has come in recent years and how relevant our work is to the needs, rights and aspirations of young people across Sierra Leone.”

As a direct result of Sierra Leone YMCA’s success, Y Care International are now using the experience to support YMCAs in Togo and Liberia to transform their slum communities in the same way.

Young people from Kroo Bay and Dwarzack told us their stories below, and how livelihoods training, saving schemes and community water points changed their lives.

Backyard farmers of the Ogoo Farm community in the Freetown Peninsular on Saturday benefited from a day's marketing training from Save the Needy Sierra Leone. The training was climaxed by the supply of rain gears (rain coats and boots) to participants, who mainly constituted backyard farming women of the Ogoo Farm community.

Director of the organization, Violet Lenger Fofanah, said the training was in line with a project proposal that is geared towards strengthening backyard farmers on how to go about their farming, especially in the area of marketing and financial management.

She called on the participants to take the training seriously and put it into practice for the benefit of their families. She urged the women to come onboard and take the lead in development.

Senior Finance and Administrative Officer of the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA), David A. Kainessie- who facilitated the training - started off by dilating on the responsibilities of a business manager who, according to him, plans, organizes, controls and monitors the day-to-day running of a particular business entity.

He noted that any business set-up should have a mission purpose and that it must focus on an achievable target that every entity should work towards, citing among others produce, market place, presentation of produce and price as business strategies that every business entity should have in mind.

Kainessie stressed on market research as key in determining the type of produce that could suit a particular environment, and that a good presentation of a produce goes a long way in attracting more customers.

Any produce, he added, should be placed at a location visible enough to attract customers and increase sales, noting that any business person should be polite and approachable so as to maintain a good relationship with customers.

"In any business, the customers are the king and therefore should be treated with utmost respect and humility," admonished Mr. Kainessie. "Business demands patience, therefore you should be polite with customers to prevent any tussle. You should try as best as you could to reach out to customers so as to increase sales."

Kainessie further lectured on financial management, stating that any business person should record all income and expenditure and that any profit accrued should not only be banked but also invested in another form to increase earnings.

"There is no idle profit as it should be invested in another form to increase earning," he encouraged, while stressing on the need to establish an account with the bank so as to attract loan for further investment.

BY Alusine Sesay
Source: Concord Time (Freetown)

On Saturday 4 May 2013, The Sierra Leone YMCA received a National Youth Excellence Award as the best Youth Serving Organisation.

“This is an important achievement not only for the Members and leadership of the Sierra Leone YMCA but for the World Movement as well. Sierra Leone YMCA was among the first YMCAS to be enrolled in the Global Operating Plan for Movement Strengthening.

Though a multilateral approach, the YMCA was strengthened around the three pillars: Mission Clarity, Institutional Viability and Social Relevance. This award is a result of what can be achieved when the World Movement agrees to coordinate its efforts.

With the Global Operating Plan, the Sierra Leone YMCA is developing and growing at a rapid rate, ensuring good governance of the movement to match the fast pace of its projects which are growing and deepening their impact. Their slum upgrade includes a multi-pronged approach to empowering the lives of young people in two slums, another four having reached a stage of community project sustainability. The civic action programme was integrally involved in contributing to peaceful elections last year.

Membership of the movement has been boosted with the recent formation of the Y’s Club, comprising professionals who have past ties to the YMCA and have now re-joined the movement in the Y’s Club. These members remain committed to the mission of the Sierra Leone YMCA and they contribute to the movement’s sustainability.

Who ever visits the YMCA in Sierra Leone will notice a strong focus on the needs of the Young People. This is tangible from the entrance of the YMCA buildings to the programme areas. Skilled Young people are members of Board and leadership structures both at Local and National levels.

The YMCA is now a resource for the Africa Alliance as its leadership especially it’s General Secretary, Mr Christian Kamara, who is facilitating the Peer Review initiative where selected YMCAs i n the region are assessed by their peers around the 3 pillars of Movement Strengthening.

Source: World Alliance of YMCAs

“For me to even imagine being a university student was not something feasible. We were involved with a lot of things. It is the result of the grace of god - had it not been for the YMCA... Well, it has played a very important role in my life.”

David Nana is not a person who takes a lot of space. He looks strong, he listens and says his opinion when needed, but you will not sit through a speech of unnecessary details on his account. He says he used to shun public speaking, but this has started to change, especially through the practice he gets in the S2C Ambassador programme, and the new position given him in in his home movement. Now he is one of the more active youths in Sierra Leone YMCA, which puts him in contact with a lot of people in different situations. David is a member of the YMCA and a Subject 2 Citizen Ambassador. This means he is participating in an intense three-year training with the Africa Alliance of YMCA which includes learning skills in leadership, advocacy, communication and personal development. The program is part of the AAYMCA’s work to secure a continuous stream of strong leaders within the ranks of their member organisations, but it is also an ambitious initiative to change the future of Africa by spreading a philosophy of initiative and change among the youth of the continent.

We start talking about Davids work for the YMCA but eventually drift into discussing the area in which he grew up. One project he has been involved in after his first training as an ambassador was a cholera campaign after the outbreak in Sierra Leone and neighboring Guinea. The outbreak started sometime in early 2012 and was declared a national emergency on August 16. By that time, 10 800 cases of infection had been reported since January. David and fellow S2C Ambassador Francess Collier trained another eight young people and embarked on a sensitisation campaign which reached almost all the major slum communities in Freetown. “We went in and sensitised people to the causes and effects of Cholera and we distributed medication. We distributed oral dehydration salts which is the major cholera treatment available. We have a very good reach in Freetown so we were able to reach a lot of people.”

One of the reasons David has a good reach in Freetown is that he spent most of his life in one of the slums. He was born in the southern province of Sierra Leone, in a town called Moyamba, but due to the instability of the region he moved around several times as a child. At five he moved from Moyamba to live with his uncle the uncles wife in Serenkuda, Gambia. There he lived for a few years, but after he and some friends were hit by a taxi and he was rushed to the hospital, his parents sent him back home and he moved to Freetown with his father. In 1997 his mother was transferred from Moyamba to a job in Freetown and the whole family was able to live together. “We all lived in the same house in an area very close to what you would call a slum. There were differences to a slum, but sort of like that. It was myself, one of my two brothers, my parents, my aunt and two of my other cousins.” The house had three rooms.

The neighborhood was and is a place where most of the youth are not completing school. Drugs, alcohol, prostitution and gambling get in the way. “I interacted a lot with this community, it was very distracting for us. My brother was caught up in it and still is. It was a neighbourhood where we all knew each other - all the kids knew each other. I am well known, my family is well known. Once you are there, you know, It is like the slums here (The interview was held in Nairobi): if people came in and were not at home, we would know right away. Young people growing up there were easily distracted. I was involved in stuff early but then I had to sit back and look at my life. I knew it was dangerous. My parents played a very important role. If it weren’t for my mom (she would look all over the place looking for me if I didn’t come home). We would sit at a place called “long bench” - we’d just sit there all day. They’re still there.”

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Sixth triennial meeting for National Youth Council of the Sierra Leone YMCA As part of the constitutional and governance mandate, the National Youth Council of the Sierra Leone YMCA organises its triennial business meeting every three years. The meet this year was held at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Kenema from 19-20 October 2012. The meeting attracted over 80 young people and staff of the YMCA. The theme for the 2012 triennial was “Unlocking Youth Potential”. There were representatives as well as delegates from all the Regional youth units across the four geographical regions. An opening statement was made by the National General Secretary, who wished the young people good luck in their Triennial meeting and elections of a new administration. He also thanked the outgoing executive for a job well done during their tenure in office.

He also advised that everyone should pay particular attention to the Subject 2 Citizen (S2C) training and capacity building because it enabled youth to unlock their potential and was strongly aligned with the Triennial theme.

Following the opening, a four-hour capacity building and S2C training session was held for all young participants. Some of the training included project writing, training on the S2C philosophy, sportsmanship and also the reactivation of membership in all the regions. There was also training on resource mobilisation which included project writing and how to lobby private institutions for support as part of their cooperate social responsibilities. The report for the period of 2009-2012 was presented. This report included all the activities of the out-going executive, and included the successes and challenges from the period. The meeting culminated in the election for the National Youth Council which would usher in a new executive.

At the end of the elections, a new executive was voted on to effectively run the affairs of the National Youth Council of the Sierra Leone YMCA for the next three years. David Nana was voted as Chairman, Michael Lamboi as Assistant, Joseph Swaray as Secretary and Mary Sandy as Treasurer.

The National Youth Council will meet to coordinate and manage the affairs of young people within the Association. As part of a capacity skills gaps, young people will be trained in leadership and communication skills and resource mobilisation.

Key amongst this will be the achievable plans and strategies to build the capacity of young people. This will be done through the S2C philosophy to enhance the voice of young people and to give them the space and ability within the YMCA and the country as a whole. At the end of the Triennial, the newly elected chairman made his maiden speech in which he thanked the National Council of YMCA for conducting free and fair elections and for their financial support of the Sixth Triennial Business meeting of the National Youth Council. He went further to encourage all members to work with his administration, so as to ensure that the affairs of young people always be given priority.

By David Nana, Sierra Leone YMCA

August 27th, 2012

In 1996, after being in a state of war for 10 years, Sierra Leone became a democracy. For the first time in its history, the country held multi-party elections. In the 2007 presidential elections, after the opposition party was elected, the country experienced post-election violence.

With an election fast approaching, Sahr Augustine Musa, explained tensions are high. “We have elections coming up in Sierra Leone in November. We are worried that the same violence might happen again.”

The YMCA in Sierra Leone has organised a programme involving the PPRC (Political Party Registration Commission) and also the National Youth Commission of Sierra Leone, both state institutions, to promote dialogue around the upcoming elections. “We bridged with PPRC and developed programmes on non-violence involving political parties. We talk to party offices and their youth councils or leagues and work with them on activities promoting peace.”

There has also been a Peace Campaign organised in YMCA Y and R clubs in high schools and universities. These clubs work on peace motivation and leadership training for youth. Activities include dramatic skits, radio appearances and community sensitisation/outreach. The YMCA is directly working with 100-250 young people, with 150 on committees. Augustine explained that S2C training has helped him in several ways in the work that he does with the YMCA. “It enhanced my skills on the job. My communication strategy improved immensely, and I am now media-friendly as well. I have changed character, becoming a public figure in my country.”


This article forms part of a series of success stories of 15 recently graduated S2C Ambassadors. Subject to Citizen (S2C) is the foundational philosophy of all our work both within the YMCA movement, driven by the Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA), and in our programmatic outputs. This philosophy emphasises the importance of young people having a voice, space and ability to influence their choices and the outcome of their lives as individuals and within their communities. S2C Ambassadors graduate after a three-year training programme, and Augustine is from the first group who recently graduated in Zimbabwe, June 2012.

December 08, 2011
Source: Standard Times Press

Like other Young Men Christian Associations in the African continent, the Young Men Christian Association of Sierra Leone has thought it fit to change their colonial logo which was based on donor symbolism to a new rebranded one depicting the African continent. The unveiling of the new logo and the launching of the centenary celebrations took place at the association’s office in Fort Street on Friday 18th November 2011.

 The National General Secretary of the YMCA of Sierra Leone, Mr. Christian Martyn Kamara said the rebranding process of their YMCA is a culmination of a four year consultative process of creating a shared vision and a core identity for YMCAs in the African continent. He said “in 2007, African YMCAs imagined and agreed on a new way of creating impact in the continent which was based on a common core identity around youth as a niche, our African-ness and our ecumenical heritage”. The new African logo retains the traditional red and black of the YMCA colors and the triangle, but highlights the organizational African-ness through the positioning of the Africa map. These common elements according to Mr. Kamara ensured that throughout Africa, the YMCA will be recognized as a cohesive movement and a sign of rebirth that came from the internal transformation of most YMCAs in Africa.

Mr. Kamara said the changing of the logo does not exclude them from the wider YMCA but added that they still belong to the wider YMCA family in 135 countries and share the same vision of empowering young people. The YMCA Sierra Leone General Secretary reflected that for the past 99 years, the Sierra Leone YMCA has as its core competencies providing opportunities that enhance the holistic development of youths in Sierra Leone through leadership and vocational skills training, HIV/AIDS sensitization and mobile health care, youth justice in action campaign and livelihood empowerment programmes. He noted they need to support young people by depicting and propagating their values in the social media as well as by means of a well run system that recognizes their role in the society adding that they need to fill the minds of young people with knowledge and positive relevant images of themselves, their communities and their role in it.

The National Chairman of YMCA Sierra Leone, Siaka P.J Charles said YMCA Sierra Leone is not just a YMCA but said that it is a YMCA founded and built under Christian principles and values noting that it is the reason why they do not segregate in their association but welcoming women and men together and members of other religions. In his statement, the public relations officer of YMCA Sierra Leone, Claudius Ola H Taylor reflected that the YMCA of Sierra Leone began in 1912 by Dr. I C Pratt with ordinary meetings an following his meeting in London, he was motivated to establish the association in the country and the YMCA became strong and active during the second world war when its canteen served as meeting point for the military along the coast. He added that since the establishment of YMCA in Sierra Leone, they have got global recognition by its allies and partners, have its own regional structures in the south and east and the national headquarters in Freetown and that the associations revenue base in rapidly increasing.


November 17, 2011 
By: Emmanuella Kallon

The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in collaboration with Freetown City Council in Sierra Leone has concluded a two-day Conference on Urban Slum and Informal Settlement at the British Council Hall on the theme: “towards a pro-poor agenda for change; adopting an inclusive approach to city and urban planning.”

Land and housing is a human right issue in which the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states in Article 11 that “everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living for himself/herself and his/her family including adequate housing, as well as continuous improvement of his/her living conditions.”

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Francis Reffell, Project Manager for Slums, said the purpose of the conference is to discuss and highlight government’s responsibility to bring about the realisation of development strategy. He maintained that this programme began four years ago when YMCA started implementing a four-year project titled: “transforming young people’s lives in Kroo Bay and Dworzack” with a thrust of bringing about a demonstrable improvement in the lives of vulnerable young people and their families living in urban slums.

“This process has catalysed into a huge opportunity of working with slum dwellers, informal settlers and the rural people as champion of their transformational development process,” Reffell said. Mr. Reffell said further that the YMCA’s effort in collaborating with other partners and their donor partner, COMIC RELIEF, is geared toward addressing the challenges of lands and housing, as a critical sector in their development agenda. General Manager, National Power Authority (NPA), Mr. Zubairu Ahmed Kaloko, said electricity is the engine of growth in any country, stating that “if there is high level of voltage in Sierra Leone’s NPA to meet the demands of companies, poverty would be eradicated through the amount of money paid through bills”.

Kaloko maintained that he will make sure that slum areas access electricity as he had done for banks, companies and houses because it does not mean when you are in deprived community one must not enjoy necessary privileges. Statements were made by the Director of Housing, Director Disaster Management, Vice President, Institute of Engineers, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Social Services, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Director of Lands and Surveys on the development of slum areas and the risk in living in these areas, while others talked on the responsibility of government. Director of Lands, Mr. Williams Farmer, said that getting land has policy that should be followed and slum dwellers do not have documents of title which will give the ministry mandate to look into their conditions. However, he said they were working on certain principles that will impact slum livelihoods. Chief Administrator, Bowenson Phillips, said FCC partnered with YMCA to address the outcome of a national malice which is poverty. He maintained that the issue of lack of housing which is allowing people to live in slums and informal settlements prone to many dangerous diseases, is an obvious evidence of poverty.

The Chief Administrator added that the FCC is working closely with Lands Ministry with support from European Union and other partners to develop the country so that it will become a hospitable place to live. Concluding the programme, presentations were made by Federation of Urban and Rural Poor which is also partnering with YMCA, Institute of Architects and from Love One Another Campaign by Dr. Christian Bell.

Information der Afrikanischen Allianz der CVJM, Kenia, vom 25. März 2011:

We would like to inform you that Christian Kamara, National General Secretary of Sierra Leone, has taken on the role of Western Zone Facilitator. This will primarily involve supporting of movement strengthening efforts in the zone, such as the Global Operating Plan (GOP) activities and Peer Review.

We anticipate that this will continue to strengthen the zonal structure and at the same time, it is in line with our strategic direction to focus secretariat energies on technical house approach.

The AAYMCA would like to express our gratitude to the leadership of YMCA Sierra Leone which agreed to free some of Christian's time so that he could share his experience with other YMCAs in the region.

Over the last two weeks, three GOP (Global Operating Plan) Country Focus Groups had their Annual Meetings in Togo (13-15 January), Sierra Leone (16-19 January) and Ghana (21-23 January 2011).

The process of the GOP Country Focus Group (CFG) started in 2003 in Sierra Leone, and one of the topics addressed by all the groups this year was how to avoid routine work and remain relevant in strengthening the focus of YMCAs. The situations vary from one country group to the other.

Sierra Leone

The GOP process has enabled the Sierra Leone YMCA to move from a very critical condition to a stable situation where the YMCA is now perceived in the country as one of the most relevant and reliable youth organisations.

The return of the YMCA with its international partners and other stakeholders has been very satisfactory and consistent progress has been made in many areas including membership, financial operations, board and volunteer development, and youth leadership. The Sierra Leone YMCA implementation of the slum and youth livelihood programmes have been established.

With a focus on the national office, the leadership of the YMCA has taken the initiative to implement the same process with local branches. Entitled SLOP (Sierra Leone Operational plan), this strengthening process with the branches started with an institutional diagnosis of all the branches, six of which will receive special attention in the next three years while others will be prepared to join.

Regarding the country focus group meeting, the following were agreed upon:

  • It was decided, to initiate a five year consolidation phase: the role of the CF group will focus less on monitoring and more on strategic thinking.
  • Meetings will be give opportunities to support the national office in delivering the SLOP as well as working on long term strategies for sustainability
  • The multilateral approach has been reinforced as the best way to achieve better results. Partners will therefore coordinate and share more information about their individual projects. During CFG meetings, partners together with the Sierra Leone YMCA, will present their report to the group.
  • The importance of capacity building for staff and volunteer was highlighted. The country focus group will introduce training sessions in upcoming meetings.


The Ghana YMCA meeting took place at a time of transition as the National General Secretary had resigned in December. Discussions were focused on the future of the YMCA and the immense opportunities to reach out to youth. The S2C programme is being implemented very successfully and new Hi Y Clubs have been created.

The meeting decided to carry out a second institutional diagnosis by August to assess progress made by Ghana YMCA since the beginning of the GOP process. For the next meeting it was agreed to introduce training session, field visits and also initiate co-reporting between each YMCA and partners and the Ghana YMCA. The recruitment process of the NGS will start at the end of January 2011 and the position will be filled by end of April. The Africa Alliance will actively support Ghana YMCA throughout the process.

By: Carlos Sanvee, General Secretary, Africa Alliance of YMCAs

With his all embracing charm, Christian Kamara has been a popular figure in the Sierra Leone YMCA since December 1980, when he first joined the local Kissy branch. Now, Christian has taken on the role of the AAYMCA's Western Zone Facilitator within his position of National General Secretary of the Sierra Leone YMCA. Christian's new found responsibilities include supporting movement strengthening efforts in the zone.

"I was passing the Kissy YMCA and heard people singing, then I became curious and wanted to know what was going on," Christian says of his first visit to the YMCA. Christian has progressed steadily through the Kissy YMCA, first becoming a regional youth secretary in 1996, then the YMCA Kindergarten School Project Coordinator, National Youth Chair and Representative to the board in 1999, and so on, little knowing that he would be appointed to the position of Sierra Leone NGS in 2005. Much of Christian's personal growth within the organisation can be attributed to role the YMCA itself plays in Africa, having benefited from this experience himself. Christian has learned through his life to prize trust, integrity, commitment, tolerance, respect and an appreciation for team work in his leadership style.

As Christian explains, "The YMCA acts as a career builder for young people in Africa and also carries the voice of our youth who are voiceless. With the YMCAs community rooted concepts we are very close to the community and thus always understand their problems and are able to work with them."

For Christian, the importance of the YMCA in Africa is clear. With issues of unemployment, HIV and AIDS, poor education, social injustice and the youth's exclusion from governance, the YMCA works to address and improve poor social conditions. To address these problems, Christian believes that, "The most important factor is to include young people in whatever needs to be addressed. Structures must be set up and adequate resources mobilised to ensure that young people themselves take up their destiny in their own hands."

Christian shows great pride in his work and the work of his colleagues, with the Sierra Leone YMCA showing notable successes through the increased funding, refurbishment of the hostels, construction of new buildings for programme work, engagement with the Sierra Leone National Youth Commission and the acquisition of 21 acres of land which was cultivated to "provided employment and income raising opportunities for the YMCA."

When looking to his future, Christian's goals for the future are thoughtful and prioritise the need for youth empowerment in Africa's development. As he says, "The most important achievement to me will be to transform the lives of young people so they can become productive and useful citizens in their communities and country, creating an opportunity for them to engage in governance and leadership in their various communities and countries."

By: Christian Kamara takes on role of Western Zone Coordinator