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Project SIerra is a four-year partnership between Soroptimist International and Hope and Homes for Children which began in 2007 which aims to raise £1Million ($2Million USD) to transform the lives of some of the most deprived women and children in the world. 

In February 2008, International President Margaret Lobo visited Project Sierra.  The following is a reprinted of her artivle in The International Soroptimist Magazine, June 2008 is an article on her visit.

THANK YOU – HANCI-SL. YOU HAVE DRIED UP OUR TEARS AND GIVEN US
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE”

These were the words I noticed on the wall on an embroidered plaque in the Office of
the Director of HANCI-SL – (Help A Needy Child In Sierra Leone) in his Freetown
office, Sierra Leone. The words touched me and sent a tingle down my spine – there
was so much in those few words! HANCI-SL works in partnership with Hope and
Homes for Children's to manage and deliver Project SIerra, our Quadrennial Project.
The words touched me and sent a tingle down my spine – there was so much in
those few words!

I spent a few days in the UK before going to Sierra Leone to visit our Project. This
was an experience more than I had anticipated. I was prepared for a rough ride, but
this was not so. The roads may not have been the best, but the warmth of friendship
and the gratitude expressed by the girls at the various centres was incredible.

The Official launch of the project was in Freetown where SI got good publicity in the
local papers; on the radio and on TV. The staff of HANCI-SL and the local
Soroptimists worked extremely hard to ensure all was in place for the launch, held at
the British Council headquarters in Freetown.

The next day was an early start to the first centre – Bo. I was told these were good
roads but one did have to raise an eyebrow every now and then at the large pot
holes we encountered – nevertheless, our drivers were excellent and I did feel safe
and well cared for. The centre is large and has only a few staff but trains girls as
seamstresses; in catering; tie & dye techniques; and other educational activities.
Some of the girls have ambitions to become accountants; do commerce; become
teachers.

All the beneficiaries, as they are called by the HANCI-SL staff, were very grateful to
Soroptimists, Hope and Homes for Children and HANCI-SL for providing them with
opportunities for study and a better quality of life. We were treated to lunch cooked
by the girls who were very proud of their efforts and it was a greatly appreciated meal
too that we enjoyed. The fruit was grown in the gardens surrounding the centre –
eating a pineapple that has just been picked and served was delicious!

We visited some of the girls where they are working since completing training and
once again the gratitude expressed made any discomfort insignificant – it was
pleasure to be there and see the girls in action, proudly displaying independence and
dignity.

From Bo we went to Makeni – once again greeted with song and dance as we
arrived. I was amazed at the dedication of the staff at these centres -working
tirelessly to ensure the girls and their children were cared for and on the road to
recovery and a better future. The notes kept for each girl and her child are
impeccable – limited use of electricity and water did not matter; the work was done!
The centres were clean and the girls and children happy and content.

Source:  The International Soroptimist Magazine, June 2008 and www.ProjectSierra.org

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Last Updated: 27 Aug 2008