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Newsletter 7.  August 2007


Last year, Rosalind Hanson Alp, a Freetown based artist, travelled to Rogbonko to help train our teachers in teaching art (see over for her diary). Although art is supposed to be taught in teacher training courses in Sierra Leone, few colleges can afford the necessary materials. None of our teachers had ever even held a paintbrush. Rosalind’s visit generated huge enthusiasm and since her visit the classes have been continued. In June Rosalind returned to judge Rogbonko Village School’s first ever art competition. The winner was Adama Sesay, whose painting of a tree will be used as the design for a fundraising Christmas 2007 tea towel.


In March this year a cholera outbreak swept through villages in Tonkolili. When the school opened in 2003, one of the first books the Rogbonko School Trust donated to the village was a copy of the famous medical self-help book: ‘Where There Is No Doctor.’ As soon as news of the outbreak reached the village daily community meetings were held in the school. Information from the book was read out on how to prevent the spread of the disease, which is passed on through contaminated water and food. In addition villagers pooled their resources to purchase oral rehydration salts. Sadly many hundreds of people were killed in the outlying villages. But due to the precautions taken by the villagers of Rogbonko, not a single soul was lost.


School Library

We’re about to start furnishing and equipping the new school library. We’re looking for children’s books for ages 4-12. If you have any books your family have outgrown, please send us one. And feel free to put your name on the fly leaf, so we know who it’s from.

Osusu Fund

The ‘Osusu’ fund, a traditional self-help support system set up by the village last year in order to help pay for secondary school fees, uniforms and books for children graduating from Rogbonko has received a welcome initial boost. £1045 was donated as a result of our newsletter appeal to help kick start the fund. Very many thanks to all of you who gave money.

A Ray of Hope

UNESCO ‘Ray of Hope’ Youth Ambassador Don McBurney recently donated a consignment of art supplies for our new art classes. Our thanks to him for his ongoing support. For anyone wanting to update friends and family on past and present Rogbonko Village School business all our newsletters and some photographs are posted on the UNESCO ‘Ray of Hope’ web site: Go to then click on ‘Sierra Leone’ under the international listing.

Calendar News

The 2007 Rogbonko Village School Calendar has raised £600, all of which goes directly to benefit the school. Watch this space for the 2008 calendar!

Exam News

Nine children from Rogbonko Village School have sat the National Primary School Exams and are awaiting their results. Last year thirteen children sat the exams, and passed with the highest grades of any school in the area. Those thirteen children are now at secondary school in Magburaka, and have all passed the Year One exams to enter their second year.

Rogbonko School Art

Earlier this year, Aminatta Forna asked me if I would be willing to train the teachers of Rogbonko School some basic art techniques with some of the art materials donated to the school. As an artist, I jumped at the opportunity and as I had accompanied Aminatta to Rogbonko before, it was a pleasure to help the school. So, in October I traveled to Rogbonko with Morlai Forna, spending 3 wonderful days teaching the Rogbonko School teachers & pupils from classes 5 & 6 drawing, painting and making fun crafts.

On the first day we used pencils to sketch shapes with different shades and shadows. Then I took the class to the football field and showed them how to draw in perspective. I asked one of the children to run to the other end of the field and we watched him getting smaller and smaller, showing that what they see and the size of the objects is how they would draw it on paper.

The second day I brought the paints out and taught the class about primary colours and how to mix them to make new colours. Although you wouldn’t know from the stunning pictures they produced, it was the first time any of the teachers or children had learned to mix colours or use paints & brushes on paper. The class was silent in deep concentration when we made mosaics from torn painted paper. As no-one wanted to stop, we carried on the lesson for an extra hour!

On the last day, we practiced making figures out of plastercine and the class made all kinds of figures which we put all together like a miniature village. The really fun part was using clay dug from the river to sculpt heads and flat ’cakes’, etched and painted with patterns. As the sculptures lay out in the sun to dry, people came from the village to admire them.

The teachers and children are eager to experiment with what they have learned and I am inspired by their commitment and the creative experience we shared.

Thank you Aminatta, Morlai & Rogbonko!

Rosalind Hanson-Alp