Sierra Leone: Update from Sentho Kilgore
On March 24, 2011, Skyline member Sentho Kilgore left to return to Sierra Leone, Africa, where she is working to rebuild the financial structure of her country. Skyline Church will send with her $1,000 to further our efforts to provide educational opportunities for the children of her home village, Makomray.
Over the last five years, Sentho and Steve Kilgore have helped Skyline Church raise enough money to build four classrooms and two outside toilets, equip the classrooms with furniture and school materials, and help pay for four of the teachers. Today, five Sierra Leone villages send children ages 6 through 12 to the new Makomray School. Over 400 children crowd into six classrooms. They come from the villages of Makomray, Maforay, Mathoi, Rokunthai and “the place of the cattle herders who follow the river,” Roworeh. Many children walk a distance of 2-3 miles each way and everyone is grateful for the Makomray School.
During 2010, students throughout the entire country were tested. Some Makomray students had better test scores than children attending the best schools in Sierra Leone.
In January 2010 Sentho brought money to Makomray to provide 15 textbooks for each class in each subject. The government does not provide school supplies and many families cannot afford to buy them. Sentho shipped pens, pencils, rulers, crayons, glue and other school materials from the United States. All supplies shipped are kept at the school, used by the students and collected at the end of the day. Most kids stay after school so they can use the school supplies when doing their homework.
Last year, there were 78 children (the largest single year enrollment ever) in Class One; now, those children are in second grade. Think about it – 78 children in one classroom with two teachers! Class One is supposed to have six year olds, but some parents send their five year olds anyway.
Right now, the school has four government paid teachers and five “community paid” teachers. Since the community is poor, some of their teachers are barely paid. Through the efforts of Marilyn Shaw’s annual bike ride, Skyline Church has raised funds for two consecutive years to help the community pay the teachers. Sentho took these monies and paid some to the five community teachers and some to the government-paid teachers also because they earn very little and are paid infrequently. If a teacher were paid regularly and well, he or she would earn about $750 for a year’s work. Unfortunately, this seldom happens.
Sentho is returning to her position as Deputy Director of Finance, in the National Revenue Authority (NRA). She supervises seven people doing the work in Freetown and many other people who work throughout the country at revenue stations at all the entry points to collect taxes for goods and services. She will tour these areas when she returns, getting to know the people for whom she is responsible and providing training in the sophisticated financial skills required to improve their work.
Due to a remarkable set of circumstances, Sentho’s presence in Sierra Leone and her success in building the Makomray School led to President Ernest Bai Koroma’s promise to build a high school in Makomray. Work has already begun on the buildings and the school will serve 10-20 surrounding villages. A local high school will mean the students are not subject to the unfamiliar pressures of a big city and will have the support of their parents and home villages as they continue their studies.
Sentho is aware that the Makomray school needs another building due to classroom overcrowding as a result of younger kids who are not old enough to start class one. She hopes this building will be built someday so that the young children of Makomray will get a good start toward school.
Because Sentho treats everyone as an equal, speaks the local language fluently, and brings effective new ideas recognized as beneficial, she has made friends everywhere she goes. With our financial help and fervent prayers, Sentho will accomplish whatever she sets her mind to. We predict the building for young children will be built. Thank you all for your continued support.