Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Allah Tanto! Halleujah!

It is incredible to final see these photos. The first day of school with their pink and blue uniforms! We did it!! The dream has really become reality for the CRC and many other people in Kabala and around the world. It is a long way from when I first started only in January. Now it is september and school has begun! It is exciting to see the children of people who have been instrumental in this community now attending here. Allah Tanto! Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Amen!

The sound of a brass bell began a new chapter in Christian education in Kabala. At 8 AM on Wednesday, September 26, 2007, when the bell rang out, over 100 students, their parents, their teachers, and a number of other local people who were instrumental in the formation of CRC Primary School in Kabala, began with singing a Krio hymn and other choruses and prayer. Ilean and I were filled with joy to represent the Fraser Valley Christian High School and Surrey Christian School communities. The people in attendance expressed great joy and thanksgiving for the school, its qualified teachers and the encouragement from the international community.
Later we spent a couple of hours just walking through the classrooms as teachers were beginning to implement some very creative teaching with most of their teaching materials still on the way. But that didn't dampen their enthusiasm for learning. They are trying to be a real alternative to many local schools where students are encouraged to be passive learners. No here.
Few of us get the opportunity as we have had today of seeing students and teachers come together for the first time in a community, in a country. In Krio we say, Plenti, Plenti, Tenki!
Lee & Ilean

Monday, September 24, 2007


In Sierra Leone, a good school has a good bell. The CRC Primary School of Kabala had none. And so a bell was purchased in Freetown and presented by us at a meeting of the School Management Committee (the board). The brass bell will be rung for the first time on Wednesday, September 26, 2007, for the first time. Over one hundred students will enter these classrooms for the first time. More will be coming until they reach the maximum for now of 120 students.
There are many prayers of thanksgiving here for the school, for the Canadian and American friends, and for God's providence. As one member of the School Committee told us, Ilean and I would not even have been here (in Sierra Leone) if Christ had not come first to show the way to one another.
Lee & Ilean

Thursday, September 20, 2007

a Wednesday Start...

The planned opening for school is set for Wednesday of next week. This means that Lee and Ilean will be there to see the ceremony. Much celebration in Kabala for this new school. Much like the woman in the photo celebrating the APC election triumph! Blackboards are nearly ready. Apparently the Paramount Chief Ali Marah will also be sending his children to the school!! Quite a show of support for this new school.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Almost Ready...

The election is over. A winner has been declared. The new President has been installed. In a country without a history of democratic changes, this is big news. So now hopefully, schools will begin next week across the country.
The Christian school in Kabala is almost ready. Teachers are planning for the excitement of the first day. The building looks great. The desks have been made. Some supplies are still missing. But school will begin. Shortly students will be standing in the school yard in their new uniforms. The national anthem will be sung along with "Good Morning, Jesus; Good Morning, Lord." Students will then go to their classrooms and teachers will begin the Good News of Jesus Christ in the classrooms beginning with a study of God's action in the world by creating and sustaining His world.
Meanwhile, time is moving along so fast here. We regret that we have only about a week and a half left here. What an exciting time to be here.
Continue to pray for this new venture here.
Ilean and Lee

Here is an excerpt from a great SL news website concerning the recent changeover displayed under a photo of the incoming and outgoing Presidents and VPs standing together. "The picture that should make all Sierra Leoneans weep with joy and pride. After all the rancour of electioneering campaign : From left : President Ernest Koroma, former Vice-President Solomon Berewa , the new VP , Sam Sumana and the outgoing VP , Momodu Koroma . Credit : APC website" (
We have abused each other enough .We have flung accusations at each other enough . .We have fought each other to a standstill, thankfully with words. In many ways than one, we have done our best and our worst ( All in the name of democracy ) , but now the elections are over. A new President has been elected and now we must go back to the serious and noble task of national reconciliation and national reconstruction

Monday, September 17, 2007

A New Leader for Sierra Leone

The people of Sierra Leone have just elected a new president. Ernst Bai Koroma of the All Peoples Congress was today announced the new leader of the Republic of Sierra Leone. It is amazing that things have remained relatively peaceful. "By God een powa" they will continue as the changover takes place. It is the first time since independence in 1961 that there has been a peaceful transfer of power to the former opposition party. Now hopefully school can begin peacefully!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

waiting for results

No firm date has yet been set for the beginning of school as the election results are still not in. Today was hopefully the next to last set of exams to help finalize the student lists.
Attached are a few photos of the election which took place on Saturday. One photo shows me with a person about to vote holding her valued voting card. Another shows the pinking with the dye on it. A couple of others are of the school and one with Ilean working alongside Sunkarie, the keeper of the house in which we are residing.
Lee Hollaar

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Around the world

Here is an email we received from Lee and Ilean upon arriving and starting work in Kabala.
We have arrived in Kabala, Sierra Leona. We are residing with JT in the CES Guest House. Have had a meeting with the teachers and saw the school site yesterday. It looks great! Today we met with the SMC. It went well and we will have further meetings. Have another meeting with teachers planned for tomorrow. With the election coming school opening has been postponed until at least next week Monday.
As we approached the school yesterday Ilean rode on the motorbike and Lee walked—by choice—escorted by two young men, Martin and Joseph who worked with Asher on the school. There were many parents with smiley faces as they were picking up their letter of (enrolment) acceptance. Some spaces are yet to be filled from a long list of applicants. The parents were pleased to see the newly whitened buildings. They look great. Impressive! Classrooms are being finished—and it will be a challenge to get everything ready by the first day of classes—whenever that will be next week. Desks are still being finished. (They are made of a local hardwood redwood. They will last a lifetime.)
We met with the teachers: Dixon, Fina, Bocharie, Steven and the Headmaster “JT”. The three men and one woman composition of the teaching staff is unusual by many world norms for primary schools, particularly in N. America. Further, they all are trained teachers and together have lots of experience. (Most local schools are 70% staffed by UU’ s [unqualified & untrained]).
When we flew into Freetown aboard the plane there were several international election observers. We were told that 5400 such observers are now in the country for Saturday’s run-off election. Please pray that things may continue to go well in this nation with a short history of democracy.
A couple of days ago we were taken to the palace of the Chief in whose chiefdom the school is located. The Chief was very actively intentional about securing the land for the school even against some negative opposition who feared the securing of a valuable piece of land as is sometimes the practice here, once holding entitlement would be slow if ever to be built. With an alternative model school now on site, some of those who were negative, he said, now ask appreciatively, “Have you seen the new facility in our community?” (This Koronko Chief has recently been elected to the Sierra Leone Parliament as a chief and now a member of Parliament he goes by the title of Honourable Paramount Chief Ali Mbalansama III. In the foto he is the younger man in the beige suit) He thanked CES and its Canadian partners for the difference he sees it making in his chiefdom. He identified literacy as a major priority as the first step of helping the people to help themselves. It is a pleasure to see someone who has the courage of his convictions to carry out this mission. He welcomed us, as the foreigners from Canada, and partners in this important work. He also told us he hoped to meet us again. He told us we would be safe here.
After the visit to the chief, Sunkare, the capable woman who keeps the home where we live and wife of J.T. Koroma, headmaster of the school, treated us to delicious meal consisting of a local variety of rice called swamp rice, garnished with local potato leaves served in a red palm oil sauce. The potato leaf is locally renowned for its nutritional value for preventing anemia. And now anything but anemic we continue to participate in the exciting and unfolding story of CRC Christian School in Kabala.
One closing note: Asher deGroot is a celebrated name in Sierra Leone! For a young man he has been an effective witness for the Lord. In the words of Wm. Shakespeare it could be asked, “What is such an old head doing on such a young body?”
Lee & Ilean Hollaar
you may have noticed...
I just added something to the blog which I should have done months ago. On the left there is a map of the world. The dots on the map show where people who have visited the site are viewing from. Click on it to enlarge and it will also display how many people have visited the site. It is incredible to see in a few days where news of the school has travelled to and how many more people are becoming involved and excited about the project.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Below is a message from Reverend John Phiri of the CRC in Kabala, sent to me this morning.
Dear Aasher and Dennis,
Greetings to you. May God bless you always.
The Hollaars are now on their way to Kabala with Joseph. Thank God for their safe journey.
All classrooms are now floored including the administration and the corridors. The white wash is being put and furniture being made. Will take a few shots today and will send them tomorrow by God's power.
Greetings to all who are supporting the work in all forms.
There has been some concern in the past week over excalating violence running up to the second election. Police were using tear gas in Freetown. All sides were calling for peace and quiet. Only yesterday the two candidates decided they will hold a joint rally, riding in the same vehicle through their supporters. Both parties were also advised by outgoing president Tejan Kabbah to distance themselves from ex-combatants of the civil war. Voting is scheduled for saturday.
Kabala is relatively free from the tribal conflicts associated with the ruling parties. We hope Lee and Ilean arrive safely this evening and can begin meeting people and starting some important work. The headmaster JT is here showing off the new uniforms. I was a part of this most interesting colour discussion!!