ERIC Number: EJ877398
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Jun
Reference Count: 3
"Are We All Together?"
von Kotze, Astrid
Adults Learning, v16 n10 p13-16 Jun 2005
In 2002, Sierra Leone, a small country on the west coast of Africa, emerged from a brutal civil war that had lasted 11 years. It claimed 20,000 lives and displaced well over one million people, who either fled into neighbouring Guinea or Liberia or survived in the forests, swamps, and mountains. The devastation caused by rebel campaigns of terror--known as, among other things, "operation no living thing"--destabilised rural areas throughout the country and is in evidence everywhere: in the burnt out shells of houses, in old electricity wires that are no longer connected, in youths who try to sell ice-lollies from cooler boxes suspended in wheelchairs donated for amputees, in the flock of vultures that perch on the roof of the local hospital. Come mid-2004, Sierra Leone's ranking as last in the world in the Human Development Index was unchanged. The conditions of extreme poverty and oppression that gave rise to widespread dissatisfaction, particularly among young people, have not altered. For decades, young people had hoped for a chance to participate in the lives of their communities, as respected human beings whose voices are heard. Although they are committed to peace, they feel that this must translate into more than the end of armed conflict. Many feel betrayed as they experience the continued lack of educational opportunities, health care and employment, while the same people continue to enrich themselves and to plunder the country's resources. Unless things change dramatically there may be renewed surges of violence and bloodshed. Addressing the root causes of the war and of poverty must, therefore, be a priority. There is a need for livelihood security and a human rights culture in which every person feels respected and able to realise her or his right to live with dignity. With civil society in tatters, there are no people's action groups. When the state fails in its duty to provide basic services and poverty eradication measures through transparent and accountable governance, outside agencies have an important role to play. In this article, the author reports on the growing role community health clubs are playing in building social cohesion in Sierra Leone, where learning is an act of defiance in the face of a brutal past and an impoverished present.
Descriptors: Poverty, War, Foreign Countries, Educational Opportunities, Community Organizations, Community Role, Social Change, Social Integration, Health Education, Social Action
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Sierra Leone