Sahn, south of Bo near Pujehun, is the headquarters of the Malen Chiefdom. During Sierra Leone’s civil war between 1992 and 2002, it was occupied for six years by rebel forces. Chief Kebbie and his family were held hostage for 15 days. When they escaped to Freetown, the rebels started killing his uncles and other people of the village. There is a mass grave on the edge of the town holding 70 victims. Although the community has now repopulated from outlying areas and rebuilt many dwellings, scorched structures still dot the village.
On the south edge of the village stands a relatively new junior secondary school, an amazing achievement for this once traumatized village. This and the two primary schools stand as a tribute to the commitment of this village to the education of its children, a priority much higher than rebuilding the Chief’s compound.
But the junior secondary school has problems: the floors are badly gouged due to poor quality sand in the cement. The wooden doors have been severley eaten by locally prolific termites. The pump for the nearby water well was stolen before it could be installed. There are no latrines. There is no library.
Peggy and Steve Garber were Peace Corps volunteers living in Sahn Malen in 1968. Peggy is a long-time board member and volunteer with Schools for Salone. They returned in 2010 and saw how poorly the village had fared over time and decided to see if they could help improve conditions. View their before and after photo page.
Fundraising began for a new school library, and the village held a planning meeting.
Identifying a source of proper rock and sand, and its transportation to Sahn Malen, became a major expense in the construction of the new library. Log Bridges failed under the weight of the trucks bringing in materials and needed to be repaired.
Schools for Salone and its in-country partner Masanga Children’s Fund persevered, however, and one year later, in July of 2011, Peggy & Steve’s vision of a library at the Jr. Secondary School had become a reality.
Books for Sahn Malen
Then Schools for Salone helped to raise money for library books, partnering with Books for Africa.
In early November 2011, Peggy and a Library Science friend, Cathy Yetter, traveled to the Books for Africa warehouse in Atlanta, Georgia and hand picked and packed 2 pallets of books: multi grade level texts, reference books, classic literature and easy reader books and more.
The 2 pallets shipped in December bound for Freetown, Sierra Leone. In January 2012, the book shipment arrived in Freetown. With the help of Joseph Lamin of Masanga Children’s Fund, they travel by truck the final 200 miles up country to Sahn Malen in February 2012.
But, there will always be a need for books – so please, continue to donate.
Peace Corps Returns to Sahn Malen after 20 years:
Amy Schober is a 2011 graduate of Winthrop University with a Political Science degree focusing on research of nutrition and need in Africa. She attended the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa as a study-abroad student for one semester. While there she tutored Somali refugees and mentored local high school students. She has also lived in Israel for one summer. After a summer of Peace Corps training, she arrived in Sahn Malen in the fall of 2011 to teach English at the Jr Secondary School for two years.
Amy has strength of character, intelligence and determination that make her much more forceful, adept and capable than her petite size appears. Amy feels she is truly “living the dream” being in Sierra Leone as a PCV. Not many young women can fulfill their dreams by living without electricity, running water or internet so that they can serve others.
“Thank you so much for everything you have done with the library,” Amy wrote in Oct 2011. “It is absolutely amazing. There seems to be a great deal of enthusiasm regarding the library. We had a meeting with the JSS III parents today and when I explained the plans they were very grateful and excited. I have been working in the library in between all of my classes and we now have a classroom set of textbooks for the core subjects prepared so that teachers can take their students into the library and actually use the books. I held a teachers’ meeting on Tuesday to train the teachers how to use the books and we had a discussion on future plans and goals for the library.”
In March 2012, after the arrival of the book shipment, Amy wrote again. “I just came home from the libreary. I was there all morning with student library assistants who were happily logging and sorting books. Also there with me were the principal, some teachers, and a carpentry team … who is putting shelves on all of the empty walls and reinforcing the existing ones. The school has really started to take ownership of the library. Students and community members alike are constantly asking me when the library is going to be re-opened with all the new books.”