- Official Language(s)
- English, Mende, Temne
- 5.6 million
- % of Population Below Poverty
- 70.2% (3.9 million people)
- GDP per CAPITA (PPP US$) (?)
- $1,400 (Canada = $43,100)
- UN's Human Development Index (?)
Developing World Connections has been closely monitoring the situation in West Africa via our partners in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO), Canadian Government travel advisories and other credible news sources. As a result of the impact of Ebola throughout Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea and Liberia, we indefinitely postponed our trips to Sierra Leone in 2014.
In November of 2015, WHO declared Sierra Leone to be free of Ebola transmission. We have continued our volunteer trips to Rwanda and Kenya, which were far removed from the Ebola outbreak. With Sierra Leone not having any cases of Ebola for an extended time, we are looking at resuming sending teams there in the near future.
Why volunteer in Sierra Leone?
Sierra Leone is one of Africa’s smallest and poorest nations. After a decade of civil war, 75% of the population lives below the poverty line with half living on less than $1 per day. Poverty is concentrated in the rural areas and around Freetown, the capital city.
Developing World Connections has partnered with the We Yone Child Foundation (WYCF), a non-profit non-government organization working for the improvement of the lives of children in Sierra Leone. WYCF’s mission is to provides sustainable, high-quality education and care to more than 300 underprivileged children in Kroo Bay and George Brook, two slum communities in central Freetown.
Santigie Bayo Dumbuya is WYCF’s Sierra Leonean founder and program director. In his youth, Santigie was forced to become a child soldier during Sierra Leone’s civil war. At the end of the war, he moved to Freetown with the help of his father’s neighbour who took him in so Santigie could complete his education. During his stay in the city, he become re-integrated into society and found a passion for helping others. Santigie earned his first diploma in project development and a second national diploma in business administration and management. In 2009, he founded WYCF in an effort to join his country’s struggle to provide peaceful, happy and well-educated childhoods.
Volunteers will assist on construction projects in either the hillside community of George Brook or the impoverished slum of Kroo Bay. Our first volunteer teams helped rebuild the Temple of Faith primary school in George Brook. About 5,000 people live in this community that suffers from a lack of basic services and inadequate access to clean water and sanitation. There has been no urban planning in this area since it was occupied by internally displaced people, mostly from the northern province, during the civil war. After that first team left, Ebola hit and prevented more teams from going. DWC held a major fundraising event to be able to send money so local people could complete the construction, which they have done.
Future projects could take place in Kroo Bay, home to 6,000 people in a one-square-kilometre area at the foot of two rivers. Kroo Bay suffers from unemployment, poor health, high infant mortality, political marginalization and severe flooding in the rainy season. There are two primary schools within the community, one of which is the We Yone Child Foundation Kroo Bay community school.
Choose your trip
ADULT AND FAMILY, CUSTOM OR CORPORATE TRIPS: These are typically two weeks in length and include in-country food, ground transportation and accommodation, program costs and a substantial donation to the in-country partner. It does not include airfare. However, the cost paid through DWC is 100% tax deductible, including airfare.
Trips may be cancelled if not enough people are registered so please sign up early to avoid disappointment. A $500 deposit is required to hold your spot on the trip; the remaining balance is due 60 days before your trip.
Find out what it’s really like on a DWC volunteer trip. Check out our Sierra Leone blog featuring entries from the DWC team leaders and participants.
When can I go?
How much does it cost?
After you’re done volunteering, take in some of Sierra Leona’s sights. Visit the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary located 40 minutes outside of Freetown in the hills of the Western Area Forest Reserve. Spend time relaxing on John Obey or Lumley Beach or take a boat ride to Dublin Island, one of the three Banana Islands that lie off the coast south west of the Freetown Peninsula. Tambakula Arts and Crafts Centre is a great place to pick up beautiful artisan gifts. Be sure to stop to see the historical and symbolic cotton tree located in the oldest part of Freetown near the Supreme Court building, music club building and the National Museum. Sierra Leoneans believe this huge tree was where former African American slaves and the first settlers of Freetown prayed more than 200 years ago, and it is regarded as the symbol of the capital city.