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.


beim said...

Lee and Illean: Blessings on this journey. The discussion of Biblical worldview/story takes me back to taking a course from Lee at TWU. I can only imagine the importance of the work you are doing there, continuing on what Asher started many months ago. Safety to you.

Matt Beimers

erin said...

Hey Asher!

It's exciting to read so much about what is going on in Sierra Leone! Sounds like great work. I am volunteering for an organization called SHAREcircle (well, really it's just me and the founder and a few board members) that is working on establishing a university in Kuito, the capital of the Bie province of Angola. It is really work from the ground up, as there is no university in the entire province. The organization website can be found at and I am working on a website for the university itself. We are searching right now for contacts and funding, and are wondering if you have any suggestions.

If you can help us out, please email me at

Erin (Ensing) Bridgewater

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