The Young Men’s Christian Association-Sierra Leone (YMCA-SL) has since 2007 when it started implementation of the Slum Project in the Kroo Bay slum community in central Freetown, it has impacted tremendously on the live of the people singularly and generally through community development schemes or training opportunities for the majority of the youthful population.
The intervention of YMCA in the Kroo Bay community started with the construction of ten water stand pipes across the community. These water pipes changed life condition in the Bay, as it ensures regular and assured water supply and availability within the community.
Member of the Community Service Group (CSG) and a Ward Committee member, Abass Kamara said before the start of the slum project, “Life for us as far as water was concern was very difficult. Our women and children would walk several metres to fetch water especially drinking water; the absence of which was the cause of the rampant outbreaks of cholera a diarrhoea in our community,” Kamara said, adding that with the intervention of the YMCA, life is now far better than it used to be before.
|A child fetches water from a YMCA constructed tap in the Kroo Bay Community
Salaymatu G. Kamara also of the Kroo Bay community referred to YMCA as “The mother of all Ngos” operating in the community. According to Salaymatu, Kroo Bay was actually not fit for human habitation, but with the presence of Ngos such as the YMCA, it is worth living in as other communities within Freetown. He said government and other like Ngos need to only “copy the fine example of the YMCA” to ensure an improved standard of living in the community.
True to her word, the YMCA-SL also constructed a Community Centre for the community to hold social activities and as a venue for community interactions such as meetings.
Before now holding of community meetings in Kroo Bay was a far-fetched affair simply because there was no facility to house the meeting. The consequence of this was a growing misunderstanding of issues amongst the people of 16,000; and no way of charting any organized way of life for themselves.
A Community Service Group member in Kroo Bay, Abass Kamara said with a concrete structured community centre with a DSTV connection, they have been able to have the youths in one place from where they can be accessed at any time. Apart from holding social functions in the centre, Abass says, their children use the centre for group studies.
“At night the community centre serves as night school for our children. They no longer go out to other communities. They now have their study groups here,” Abass Kamara said.
Besides these huge infrastructural inputs in Kroo Bay, the YMCA also operates a livelihood enhancement programme through a savings scheme a moderated form of the micro credit system and it targets mostly women.
Salaymatu Kamara says this scheme has bailed out extremely poor families to the level of at least paying their children’s school fees. But most importantly she noted, “The scheme has brought unity and peaceful co-existence among the women who are in the majority.”
The water taps that are standing in various parts of Kroo Bay and the building of the Community Centre has raised the community’s profile to a full fledged settlement compared to other areas of the city.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.