Well Connected Native Vies for SLPP Constituency 75 Seat
Constituency 75 (Lugbu and Bagbo Chiefdoms) parliamentary seat for 2012 has a much admired and formidable female aspirant in the person of Mrs Helen Kuyembeh nee Caulker (in photo). Her history of bravery in confronting brutality and mismanagement was for a very long time the stuff of folklore as she evaded armed paramilitary troops seeking to arrest her after she led students revolt in 1977. She was to eventually flee to Ivory Coast after evading ISUs through the villages of Bonthe and Pujehun for months. Her outward demeanor is humble and unassuming; but close up, she is a fireball and a tenacious fighter.
Her name then was Helen Caulker, and that is how she is still known in Pujehun area. She is the daughter of two school teachers; her father late Mr. Francis Caulker, and her mother Mrs. Frances Caulker nee Kaineboy was born and bred in Gelehun in the Lugbu Chiefdom and Tengbleh in the Bagbo chiefdom. Helen spent most of her formative years in Gelehun, Tengbleh and Lower Sarma. She is now married with two boys of her own, and is now Mrs Helen Kuyembeh. Helen is vying for the SLPP symbol to represent the people of Lugbu and Bagbo in (Constituency 75) in Parliament in the 2012 general election.
Beneath her humble and unassuming appearance is a fierce drive and commitment to facilitating constituency development programs funded not only through her numerous external contacts with foreign donor bodies and agencies but also with her innovative thinking on funding and extensive experience in community development.
Speaking with her from her Arizona home, Mrs Kuyembeh outlined her priorities thus:
- Stimulate income growth and hence reduce poverty especially by working with community groups and individuals on developing small-scale enterprises.
- Provide vocational and other training for the community
- Work with the community to rehabilitate or build critical infrastructure in the constituency
- Support healthcare by encouraging the training of community health nurses to serve remote communities and facilitating access to medicine;;
- Support the development of education throughout the constituency and especially encourage the education of the girl-child;
- Develop potable water systems throughout the constituency;
- Work with youth to provide income earning opportunities and general skills development.
From these basics, she has bigger goals which she believes can be funded by her extensive contacts in the foreign and national development sector.
Mrs. Kuyembeh has a history of working for her people. As a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Development, she was assigned to the desk of NARICOM, that was primarily responsible for emergency relief services to Liberian Refugees in Sierra Leone. She has extensive experience working with International and donor agencies as well as non-profit organizations. This experience gives her the advantage of fully understanding their inter-relationship with government and local community stakeholders. She worked with government/funding agencies that supported community developments in Sierra Leone both at national and local levels. In all of this she never forgot her people as she directly facilitated community development projects like a women’s micro-economic funds project, a piggery, and poultry farming projects for the people of Lower Sarma in Lugbu Chiefdom.
Mrs Kuyembeh’s work within her community has defined her entire work experience even in the USA. For the last ten years, she has worked as a supervisor in the Department of Human Services for the City of Phoenix. After her relocation to the United States from Gambia where she had worked as a Consultant for UNDP/UNHCR, her community-centered commitment and drive was again seen as she led the resettlement and adaptation of Sierra Leonean refugees in the State of Arizona in the USA. She led a Sierra Leonean organization in Arizona to support refugee families to access services and benefits from government and community support agencies in the United States. Further, Helen Kuyembeh is a staunch leader of Tegloma International, an organization in which she piloted the highly successful scholarships program for deserving school-going children in Sierra Leone.
Combined with her love for her people and her desire to serve them, are her vast and array of qualifications with real work experiences. She holds a BA degree from FBC and two Masters degrees: MA in International Development Studies and another MA in Organizational Management from England and the US respectively. She also holds a Diploma in Human Resource Management from New Dehli, India.
In the United States, Mrs Kuyembeh has been very active in the Sierra Leone People’s Party in North America, leading fundraising efforts for a series of successful bye-elections including one for Ward 249 in Constituency 75 and organizing and leading the SLPP in the State of Arizona as well as serving as North America Regional party conference member for years. The people of Constituency 75 cannot be luckier. Helen has a very strong support base in North America where she is heavily supported by a caucus.
by Idrisa Fofana, New York
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