OBSERVER: STREET CHILD’S BINTU IS BACK IN SCHOOL
But only with 30% of her colleagues
At the peak of the world’s interest in the Ebola crisis, Bintu Sannoh, a teenage girl supported by Street Child whose home in Kenema was hit by Ebola, wrote a diary article on the front page of the Observer.
She described the misery Ebola had brought to her family. In subsequent Observer articles, published in November and January, she depicts the stigma and poverty her family still faced – but how, through their own efforts, supported by Street Child, they were managing to cope.
A sunnier Bintu writes this week – with Street Child’s help, she is back in school! The firewood business that her Aunty set up in January with a Street Child grant is doing well – and Aunty has started selling Palm Oil too. In addition to the business support, Street Child has also provided new uniforms (the old ones were burned in the disinfection process) and school materials. Bintu is one of 3,000 children who Street Child has supported with school materials in Kenema alone.
Tellingly however, Bintu returns to school to find only 30% of her colleagues are yet to make it back. Poverty, pregnancy, fear: Sierra Leone’s classrooms are still very empty. The worst of Ebola may be done and, for some of the organisations who came to help, their time in Sierra Leone may be done soon too; but, for Street Child, it is quite clear that, in many ways, our work is just beginning. Bintu’s story stands as a compelling case study of what can be achieved. Our challenge now is to repeat this thousands and thousands of times over, in the coming months.