Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 September 2016
Panther Women’s Group (Panther Ladies) are calling for national and international help to support their local development initiatives and plans to improve the lives of poor people in the Kroo Bay slum, whose homes and livelihoods were affected in recent floods and the Ebola crisis.
Kroo Bay, one of the largest coastal slums in Sierra Leone with an estimated population of 6,000, has been seriously affected by flood and the Ebola crisis.
People living in Kroo Bay are particularly at risk, because they live in overcrowded households where poor hygiene awareness and practices prevail. The children enjoy limited fundamental rights like education, healthcare, and recreation.
The Panther Women’s Group is a long-term supporter of the Kroo bay community, and has launched an appeal to provide slum dwellers with resources to improve their homes and livelihoods.
The amount of school supplies each student is required to buy at the beginning of the school year is not only onerous, but beyond the financial means of many poor families living in the Kroo Bay community.
Following a month of survey and needs assessment, on Sunday 18th September 2018, Panther Women’s Group began to answer the call for school supplies for families in need.
In a bid to strengthen girl child education, Panther has helped more than 70 underprivileged children ready for the first day of school. Hundreds of items were donated as well as help with school fees scholarships.
The donations were delivered in the presence of the chiefs and residents of Kroobay by the president and cross section of members of the Panther Women’s group, including: Haja Zainab Sugar Sesay –President, Hawanatu Aliyah Bangura -Vice President, Sarah. K. Momoh-Financial secretary, Aminata Kargbo –Secretary, Frances Feika-Public Relations Officer.
The first phase of school support targeted 50 girls, aged 2 -8 years, and will span for five years, with effective monitoring and evaluation.
The 50 girls whose education will be supported by Panther Women’s Group: 40 of them are going to school but lack the basic facilities, and 10 are recently admitted pupils, who Panther have enrolled in different schools around Freetown.
The President of Panther, Haja Zainab Sugar Sesay said: “We have come with these items to ensure you all go to school and acquire maximum education that will benefit you, your community, Sierra Leone and the world at large.
“Through our donations, children would be able to attend school and grow-up as productive citizens. We intend providing support to the Kroo Bay community on a long term basis and we appeal for you to support us. We therefore call on the government and NGOS to support the Kroo Bay community. All children deserve a real and fair chance to succeed, and all young people should be able to live with dignity.”
Speaking to the Salone Messenger Media, Vice President of Panther, Aliyah Bangura said: “the children and people of Kroo Bay have incredible dreams and plans to improve their lives. They are very determined and are doing amazing activities in the community.
“We have to help them fight for those dreams and plans. Investing in the most disadvantaged – especially girls to give them a fair chance in life is not only the right thing to do, it is the best way to break the cycle of poverty and drastically improve the living standards of people residing in slums. We pray that more support can be provided to the Kroo Bay community.”
The Chief of Kroo Bay Community, Pa Alimamy ‘Ka Gbempa’, together with parents and the children, appreciated and thanked Panther Women for the donations, assuring the group that their good plans for the community will yield the required result.
Isata Bangura, the mother of Kadie Beatrice Sesay, a 6 year old beneficiary, joyously thanked Panther as she described the organisation as ‘’Heaven sent’ to help our children.
“As schools reopen, I was wondering how I am going to enrol Beatrice, as things are not easy for me these day. I have three kids and Beatrice is the last, the two went up to Junior Secondary School, but because of finance and other reasons, I could not afford their education,” Isatu narrated.
Admonishing the children and parents, members of Panther encouraged parents to ensure children go to school and read their notes.
“We are students (Panther women) who have sacrificed a lot to support these kids, with your cooperation we will help these kids to achieve,” Sugar Sesay said.
The group encouraged other organisations to follow the footsteps of Panther Women and probably do more for underprivileged kids.
For more information, or to make a donation to the Kroo Bay Appeal:
Phone: +232 (0) 77 399090/+232 (0)79 030776
About Panther Ladies
Panther (Panther Ladies) is a women’s led charity working with slum communities to reduce poverty and to improve living conditions. Panther was originally set up by students from various universities in the country. We believe that poor communities have a right to education, to safe and secure housing, and that through working together to express their ideas and needs, they can play a central role in creating better Sierra Leone.