Latest project/news > Sierra Leone

Bonthe, Sherboro Island, is a remote coastal area impoverished by the civil wars. Friends of Africa is the only international NGO working in the area. Through our local partner we have funded projects that will train and assist young people, especially young women, into viable occupations and provide a sustainable source of income to maintain welfare programs and revitalize village communities.

Bakeries project

In 2003 we funded two bakeries, in Bonthe and in Mokaba, on the mainland not far from a large rutile mining operation. Young people, especially women, were trained to bake bread, cakes and snacks. Each bakery normally employs 4-5 assistants and 6-10 salespeople and operates as a simple café, providing the village with a focal point and an informal meeting place. The net income, after costs and salaries for the bakery workers, is used to help fund local social and welfare programs. The bakeries were completed in December 2003 and were officially opened by President Kabbah and Tony Baldry MP, Patron of Friends of Africa and then Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on International Development, during a visit in February 2004.

Mokaba bakerBonthe bread

Fishing Boat project

The aim was to help villagers in Bonthe District re-establish a sustainable source of income and employment by providing nets, equipment and materials to build fishing boats, all of which were looted or destroyed during the fighting. After discussions with local community leaders, we funded the construction of a large fishing boat and a smaller fishing boat, powered by outboard engines donated by Yamaha UK, and a transport boat. The boats are either leased to individual fishermen or run as a community enterprise, training and employing young people in the fishing industry.

Where there was previously hopelessness and a general feeling that the world had forgotten about them, there is now a spirit of enterprise and self-confidence in these communities. Both projects bring the additional benefit of a significant improvement in the villagers' diet.

We are now planning to help the people of Bonthe build a smoke-house, so that some of the catch can be processed and sold, and start a small enterprise loans program for young women.