Sierra Leone

Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1912 Full/Associate/Related Membership in the World Alliance of YMCAs: Associate Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1981 Number of local Associations: 21 branches Number of total members and participants (all over the country): 1,000 Men: 550 Women: 300 Under 30: 150

Descriptions

Mission Statement
To bring together Young People whether by age or by attitude or different traditions, race or colour into the World Wide Fellowship of the Young Men’s Christian Association, through which they may grow as Christians participating in the life, worship and growth of the Church expressing their Christian Faith by word and deed. During those days, he met people like the Late Mr. M.E.A. Davies who was one time National Chairman and contributed in the formation of three Branches namely: Freetown, Kissy and Cline Town. A building was eventually rented at N0. 4 Pultney Street in Freetown which housed the office of the Association. A Commercial School was established with foreign aid and regular outings were organised as the years went by. In 1978, the then National Chairman, the Late Mr. M.E.A. Davies made contacts with the German YMCA to help in putting the Sierra Leone YMCA on a sound pedestal. A Partnership was then created and this resulted in the advent of a Fraternal Secretary Mr. Erich Kotnik in January 1979 and the employment of a full time National General Secretary Mr. Eben Whenzle in March 1979.
History
The Sierra Leone YMCA was founded by the Late Dr. I.C. Pratt in 1912. It started with few devoted Christians who met regularly for Bible Studies and Prayer Meetings. Their meetings took a rotational form ie from house to house of every member. No one can clearly recount how they got the idea of a YMCA but one would envisage that a few of them must have heard, read or seen YMCA somewhere . The house meetings which started in 1912 eventually changed to a public one. Meetings were conducted at the Freetown Community Centre, opposite Rokel Commercial Bank at Siaka Stevens Street where we now have the Reliance Insurance Trust Corporation. The Group extended its programmes and activities and in 1915 the first Boxing Day Sports was organised at the then recreational grounds now National Stadium at Brookfields. Before the 2nd World War, a building situated at the corner of Trelawney Street and Oxford Street in Freetown now Lamina Sankoh and Lightfoot Boston Streets respectively and opposite the Wesley Church housed the YMCA. Regular meetings were conducted in that building and the Association also ran a canteen which became very famous for war stricken Sea Men, Members of the Navy and Armed Forces whilst in transit. Unfortunately as the years went by things took a different turn as the Association was no longer viable. However, a young YMCA Professional by the name of Dr. Henshaw from the United Kingdom visited Sierra Leone to help with the Association’s work. He even developed a Boys Section. Much was not heard about the YMCA until 1976 when a member of the YMCA in the United States of America, Mr. Waldo Keck visited Sierra Leone and was concerned with the deplorable state of the Association.
Programmes
The Young Men’s Christian Association Sierra Leone had since 2002 being making contribution to the Peace Building and Education Process by embarking on Peace Education and Advocacy in three Regions of the country (Western, Eastern and Southern). The Relief and Rehabilitation Department with support from Horyzon – Switzerland conducted several workshops and training of trainers and peace motivators. Agricultural inputs in the form of seed rice were given to Returnee Farmers in the Kori and Tikonko Chiefdom in the Southern Region. We are also implementing Skills Training for Ex-combatants and Youths in Kenema, Eastern Region. The following areas of study are being offered in the Skills Training Programme: – Carpentry – Tailoring and dress making – Brick-laying – Agriculture Vocational Training in Freetown and Bo forms part of our Educational Programmes. Non-food items were given to Returnees after the war in the form of pots and pans. This programme was implemented in Taiama and Tikonko Chiefdoms in the Southern Region. Evangelism and spiritual upliftment is our major task being a Christian Organisation and as such we do organise Bible Studies, Outreaches, revival etc. Every year on the 26th December (Boxing Day) the Association do organize what is known in Sierra Leone as the YMCA Boxing Day Sports. This activity was first organised in 1915 and since then it has become a traditional event, which caters for National and International Athletics. We have also embarked on a Kindergarten school at Kissy, which caters for orphans in the Kissy environs. Our Youths have formed a national drama and gospel group, that helps in the dissemination of the peace message. Sponsored walk, outings, picnics, concerts are some of our fundraising programmes.
Country Profile
Democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war from 1991 to 2002 that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one-third of the population). The military, which took over full responsibility for security following the departure of UN peacekeepers at the end of 2005, is increasingly developing as a guarantor of the country’s stability. The armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 presidential election, but still look to the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) – a civilian UN mission – to support efforts to consolidate peace. The new government’s priorities include furthering development, creating jobs, and stamping out endemic corruption. Population: 5,132,138 (July 2009 est.) Age Structure: 0-14 years: 41.7% (male 1,060,463/female 1,081,333) 15-64 years: 54.7% (male 1,344,650/female 1,461,203) 65 years and over: 3.6% (male 83,595/female 100,894) (2009 est.) Birth Rate: 39.08 births/1,000 population (2009 est.) Death Rate: 12.22 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.) Infant mortality Rate: total: 81.86 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 15 male: 90.84 deaths/1,000 live births female: 72.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.) Life Expectancy: total population: 55.25 years country comparison to the world: 196 male: 52.86 years female: 57.71 years (2009 est.) HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 1.7% (2007 est.) HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 55,000 (2007 est.) HIV/AIDS – deaths: 3,300 (2007 est.) Ethnic Groups: 20 African ethnic groups 90% (Temne 30%, Mende 30%, other 30%), Creole (Krio) 10% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century), refugees from Liberia’s recent civil war, small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians Religions: Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30% Languages: English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%) Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write English, Mende, Temne, or Arabic total population: 35.1% male: 46.9% female: 24.4% (2004 est.) Government Type: constitutional democracy Capital: Freetown Geographic coordinates: 8 30 N, 13 15 W Time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) Independence: 27 April 1961 (from the UK) Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal Currency: Leones (SLL) Population below poverty line: 70.2% (2004) Transnational Issues: Disputes – international: As domestic fighting among disparate ethnic groups, rebel groups, warlords, and youth gangs in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone gradually abate, the number of refugees in border areas has begun to slowly dwindle; Sierra Leone considers excessive Guinea’s definition of the flood plain limits to define the left bank boundary of the Makona and Moa rivers and protests Guinea’s continued occupation of these lands including the hamlet of Yenga occupied since 1998 Refugees and internally displaced persons: Refugees (country of origin): 27,311 (Liberia) (2007) **Information retreived from CIA – The World Factbook: www.cia.gov
Contact
National General Secretary, Christian Kamara, christian@africaymca.org National Council of Sierra Leone YMCA 32 Fort Street P O Box 243 Freetown SIERRA LEONE Tel: 232-22-223608 Telex: 3210 booth sl Fax: 232-22-224439/228422/229278 Email: sierraleone@africaymca.org