YWCA: Training women of Sierra Leone for over five decades
In today’s global economy, tertiary education and practical training play a pivotal role and could help a poor nation like Sierra Leone assert its economic independence and complete freedom. Rather than being eternally dependent on aid from donors’ deep pockets as if caught in a monkey trap, the continent of Africa needs to start manufacturing things and providing services that create jobs and investing in relevant education and opportunities for a template healthy economic climate.
We need to pull up our boot straps and reverse the colonial mindset of one size fits all resulting in mis-education and under-education. Sierra Leone’s inherited grammar school type of education that most of us went through is outmoded and must change to usher in an economic renaissance in our motherland.
Indeed the vision of the founders of Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) Vocational Institute in Freetown was a brilliant one taking stock of the end results as the institution recently celebrated its jubilee in Freetown and abroad. The Old Girls Association – YOGA – has been very dynamic in propelling the image and success of the institute. I was actively involved in this dream and competent in offering first hand information. But testimonials from alumni below of this noble institution offer a telling story. Job skills are the palm oil that lubricates a growing economy, keeping it vibrant and healthy. Failing to succeed in hardcore academic programs should not be a death warrant to anyone’s career or economic freedom and independence. Folks, don’t allow anyone to write you off as a dropout but rise up to the challenge and prove the critics and naysayers wrong and short sighted. In order to recover from the hangover of colonialism it’s necessary to chart a new path that encourages us all to become risk takers rather than ticket takers.
Here are some testimonies of YWCA Vocational Institute graduates:
Adeline Johnson – My credential from Dekalb Technical College is Business Technology specializing in Legal Office Duties. I was able to use my qualification as senior office assistant at the Dekalb County Juvenile court in Atlanta – Georgia for seventeen years and took an early retirement 2010. Currently in school for my BA in Social, Criminal Justice, and will be finishing up in 2013. My U.S. stay has been great with all the opportunities that America has, but it comes with hard work and determination. I just believe that if one is focused the sky is the limit.
Asiatu Jalloh – was a former prefect of the YWCA. I attended the MMTC, in Sierra Leone tafter graduation, traveled to the USA and now a Registered Nurse married with 3 children. This school taught me that the sky is the limit and at a young age, Mrs. Shirley Rogers-Wright my then Principal challenged all young girls in that prestigious school to do our very best empowering ourselves, families, beloved Sierra Leone and the world in general. I was blessed with a lot of teachers who are my mentors today including Mr. Roland B. Marke of Jacksonville, Florida, who could find ten ways to teach accounting to any student so they could master the curriculum. I feel honored to have gone through the gates of such a great learning institution. It was easy for us, all we did was listen and learn for a better future.
Dorance Cooper – After writing my GCE O level exam in 1985, I thought all was lost when I did not get all the required grades for admission to FBC. I was encouraged to enroll at YWCA by Mrs. Roy Macauley who was my mother’s friend. At the YWCA, I had the opportunity to work on my academic performance with support from the committed and dedicated staff. I had a division 1 pass when I took the certificate in vocational studies exams. This provided the gateway for higher education. After graduation, I entered the then Milton Margai College of Education and graduated with a Division II Higher Teachers Certificate. I currently hold a Division I bachelor degree in Business Administration from the Institute of Public Administration and Management, University of Sierra Leone and am doing an online Masters Program. I’m currently working with World Vision International a humanitarian NGO, based in Dakar as the Food Programming Advisor for the West Africa and Latin America Regions. I joined the regional team from World Vision Haiti Earthquake Emergency Response office where I served as the Commodities Manager for 14 months. Before joining World Vision International Sierra Leone Program, I worked with the United States Agency for International Development in Freetown, Sierra Leone, as Program Assistant for three years.
Valerie Pabai (nee Hardin) – I currently reside in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territory in Canada. I’m a qualified Child Protection Worker with over five years experience working with the indigenous community in Canada’s North. My qualifications include a Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in Social Work from McGill University, a Bachelor’s degree in Human Relations with a minor in Education from Concordia University, and a Diploma from John Abbott College in Office Systems Management from Montreal, Quebec in Canada. In my past and present career I have held various positions including community social worker, team leader, human relations officer, coordinator, and child protection worker.
Nenneh Kalokoh-Tajudeen – I graduated from Hunter College, City University of New York in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education, Health Sciences. I obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Phoenix in 2010 general psychology. I’m currently working on a doctoral program in clinical psychology at Walden University. I enjoy working as a Case Manager/Case Worker that helps to take care of my family and continue with my education. I currently work with mentally diagnosed clients with severe chemical dependency. In the past years I worked as a public health advisor with the department of health in NYC. I reside in New Jersey.
Marie Sapateh Reaves – I attended American Beauty College and studied tricology that deals with skin diseases of the scalp and hair loss. I own M&M Beauty and Braiding Salon in Riverdale, Georgia. And create jobs for women in this anemic economic climate predominant in United States and around the world. I do offer job-training skills to potential employees. I was a women’s leader in the All People’s Congress ruling party.
By Roland Bankole Marke © 2013
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