Sierra Leone (ISL) kicked off a “Seeds of Life Initiative” with a local primary school in Foindu Village, Sierra Leone. Located in the Tonkolilli District within the Northern provinces, Foindu has a high illiteracy rate, limited access to markets, very few job opportunities, poor health facilities – all of which contribute to limited sustainable development opportunities. Yet, it is surrounded by vast agricultural land, beautiful waters and people who truly desire a better community with hopes for a brighter future. Limited access to food crops such as fresh vegetables and fruits is a major factor leading to nutritional deficiency and affects the entire population. The Seeds of Life initiative aims to address nutritional gaps and improve the wellness of citizens in Sierra Leone. Our goal is to boost nutrition knowledge and promote behaviors that improve nutrition.
In Foindu, there is only one primary school which is the Ansarul Islamic School. ISL has established a relationship with the school and its staff and has learned that their biggest need is food. There are approximately 150 students that attend the school each day, many of whom do not get balanced nutrition and feeding at home. Most of these children overconsume rice (as this is the most available and desired food) and the majority suffer from extreme hunger and poverty. Currently, there is no school feeding program as in the case of most schools in the US.
The children are expected to eat before and after school in their homes. With no school feeding and an 8 hour lesson day, it can be very difficult for the children to do their best and endure a very long day without food & snacks. After recognizing the need for food, ISL decided to assist by helping the school grow produce that can be provided to the children for added nourishment. Studies show that a child who has better nutrition and diet will perform better in school.
Our focus for this initiative is to promote wellness, boost nutrition knowledge and increase access to nutritious food among primary school students. We anticipate this to be a 3 to the 5-year project and our goal is to create sustainability by planting permanent crops and developing a Seed Recycling Program. This project will provide products to students at the end of the harvest season. ISL staff will distribute produce to students and staff on a monthly basis. With farm machinery and tools, we hope to be able to produce larger quantities that can be given to orphans, widows, pregnant women, and more. We also hope to promote female empowerment and inspire young girls to advance their knowledge in agriculture. Currently, farm leaders in
rural communities are primarily male. Additionally, ISL will partner with the school to promote quality education by providing school materials and supplementing the current curriculum. This will allow us to achieve ISL’s Sustainable Development goals including Zero Hunger, Quality Education, and Good Health and Well Being.