Published Wed, Jan 25, 2023
Written by Sarah Pietryga
By: Isatu Dumbuya
Life as a House Parent has been an especially rewarding experience for me. During my tenure as a House Parent in one of the dormitories at EduNations Boarding Home, Rokassa, I saw and felt the need of the students from under-resourced areas to have a place they could call home. Most of these students had never had a real experience of the joy of attending school; because of the adverse economic and social environments they emerged from. Parents could hardly afford a day's meal, talk less of paying school fees or providing lunch for their children. Moreover, most had to walk miles to school, navigating unfriendly terrains. The girls in particular, were susceptible to cultural pressures to get married at an early age. Most of these underprivileged families saw this as an opportunity to escape the stronghold of poverty. No wonder, therefore, EduNations is seen as a sort of sanctuary by these students.
While EduNations operates schools in six villages in rural Sierra Leone, EduNations’ “Hope Academy” in Rokassa has become especially vibrant as the location of the magnet senior secondary school (SSS) which draws students from all the other villages. Boarding facilities are provided for the SSS students from other villages as well as for those from Rokassa as a way to focus on studies in a healthy community atmosphere.
The boarding facilities are laid out with houses divided into two apartments with each apartment having four bedrooms. One of the bedrooms is for the House Parent and the other three, with bunk beds to accommodate six, for the students. The apartments have running water, flushing toilets, and a shower! For children of rural Sierra Leone, these features we consider basics are luxurious! And for children used to sleeping with siblings, having a bed to themselves is a new and welcome experience.
Furthermore, these students are provided healthy meals three times a day, every day of the week, at the boarding home. Proper nutrition remains an integral part of a student's mental and physical development. Prior to attending the boarding school, some of these students only had one meal a day, and this is usually served late in the evening, after they might have returned from the farm. Parents seldom had time or the ability to discuss their children’s academic progress. But at EduNations, these children are monitored, mentored and counseled by a House Parent, who now assumes the role of a guardian, and ultimately becomes part of their “family”.
And while the boarding facility makes it possible for children from the other five villages to attend senior secondary school (since traveling back and forth is impossible), the experience of living and studying with students from other villages is priceless. The students have the privilege of engaging in extracurricular activities which keeps them physically and mentally fit. They are offered lifelong leadership skills, which are essential in the 21st century. For example, some students are assigned leadership roles, such as Parent Assistant, helping House Parents in carrying out household responsibilities, especially with their peers in the same dormitory.
More importantly, students at EduNations boarding school are given the opportunity to know the love of Jesus. Since many of our staff are committed to following Jesus and loving others as God loves us, we are happy to lead devotions before school and before bed at night. Prayer sessions are encouraged as well, to help build their spiritual stamina and relationship with God. Biblical principles are conveyed to these students on a regular basis by House Parents, and they are all encouraged to attend Sunday services at the Chapel.
EduNations is focused on creating the best environment for these SSS students as potential future leaders in Sierra Leone. There is ample evidence of the positive impact EduNations is having in the lives of these young people. When these children go home on holidays, we hear from parents “how has my child has grown to be so polite and helpful?” And while they enjoy visiting their families, the students tell us how they long to be back at the boarding home with their new friends.
It brings me so much joy to see students return to our boarding home after the holidays are over. Thank you for how your support makes these immense opportunities at EduNations Hope Academy available to these bright, young students.