I’m Kat and I want to tell you about my recent trip to Sierra Leone.
Earlier this month I visited Sierra Leone and saw first-hand the impact our tech hubs are having on the lives of young people; it proved to be moving and inspirational trip in many ways.
We arrived in the buzzing capital of Freetown and immediately headed north to the rural town of Makeni one of our project sites. The differences were immediately evident. What struck me most was lack of access to anything outside of the village, even transport. This of course has a major impact on the opportunities young people can access. So it was even more saddening to continuously hear from the young people I talked to that they left school aged as low as 10 years old. Many of the young people I met were also parents themselves and had until recently been struggling to feed their children sufficiently; I was very sad to discover that child malnutrition in Sierra Leone is amongst the highest in the world.
Young people such as Emmanuel, generally feel neglected in their remote communities, trapped with no way to seek education or employment. The huge benefits that our tech hubs provide is access to technology – including computer literacy training and useful tricks of the trade about business prices, sales and saving techniques to improve their businesses, plus opportunities to connect with new partners and customers. Meaning Emmanuel will finally be able to set up his own kiosk and gain regular customers.
I found the dedication of young people such as Emmanuel so inspiring. He spoke of how he wanted to make a success of his business so that he could give back to his community. I hadn’t anticipated hearing that; Emmanuel wants to give the future generation of young people opportunities that he never had; an attitude that is driving the ambitions of many young people.
The large youth population should present a huge opportunity for the country, especially as they are all so determined and passionate. Which is why our programme is so well placed in Sierra Leone; a country that severely lacks meaningful opportunities for the young people that make up a third of its population. These young people deserve the opportunity to work, to earn money for their families and to be able to secure their future in a country which has so much potential.