Niagorehun is a village in southern Sierra Leone (Bagbo Chiefdom, Bo District) that was badly damaged during the Civil War that ended in 2002. By working together and with Schools for Salone, Emily Heck and Mustapha Sonnie were able to replace the barely surviving primary school.
Emily Heck was a Public Health student who spent 6 months in Sierra Leone with Helen Keller International (HKI) to study Neglected Tropical Diseases. Her coworker and friend at HKI, Mustapha Sonnie, is from the village of Niagorehun.
As a result of the war, the Primary School in Niagorehun – Mustapha’s alma mater – stood in dilapidated conditions, but still served as the site of education for over 500 students between the ages of 6 and 15. Since the end of the war, the village had tried to repair the school with makeshift structures that did not withstand the environment in Sierra Leone. The resulting state of the school made it a very difficult learning environment for students and teachers alike, especially during the rainy season.
During their drive back to Bo that day, Mustapha asked Emily if she would help him raise the money to rebuild the school and she said “I will try!” Several months later, Emily and Mustapha linked with Schools for Salone and their fundraising initiative was in full force.
With the help of many generous donors, Schools for Salone and Masanga Children’s Fund, construction began February 16, 2009 on a concrete structure with 4 classrooms, an office for teachers, a secure storage room, three pit VIP latrines and a water well. Furniture and school supplies came later.
Mustapha was on the phone with the village head teacher when the first brick was laid on February 26, 2009. “It was an awesome moment – beyond words!” he said.
Opening ceremonies for the school took place August 7, 2009. The ceremony took place with the entire village present. Mustapha described it as a day with endless singing, dancing, and joy.