The civil war in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2001 interrupted or stopped altogether the schooling of the majority of children, leaving a generation of 18-35 year olds with no more than 3 or 4 years of basic education.

Happily, Sierra Leone has seen relative peace for the past seven years, after a brutal 10 year war. However, there is still a very long way to go in terms of development and one of the major problems affecting the Sierra Leonean population is the lack of education.

Although development and sustainability programs have been implemented by various NGOs, these are short term measures. Once the organisation pulls out and the money stops, there is little infrastructure locally to take over the work - very few people have the funds, capacity or determination and resilience required to continue such projects.

Many families in Sierra Leone can only send one child to school, placing a high burden of expectation on that child;

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meanwhile the siblings are forced to sell water, groundnut and coal on the streets to raise money for the family.

The pressure is even greater on the girls, who are involved in child care for the rest of the family; as soon as they are deemed old enough to look after babies.

We are trying to change this process and particularly to redress the balance for the girls, who are currently under-represented in schools.

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