SUNDAY TVNZ - 18/06/17
In October 2016 I went back to Sierra Leone with Simon Coley from Karma Cola to tell the story of Karma Cola and the work it was doing in the villages where it sourced the integral ingredient for its drinks, the Cola nut.
Karma Cola has established The Karma Cola Foundation which uses a percentage of drink sales to support the education of young girls in the village and so when we met up with Umu in Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital our stories collided beautifully.
Karma Cola has come on board to help Umu and others like her. In May we held a photo exhibition in Auckland that raised enough funds to pay for some private tuition to help Umu prepare for Law School entry exams in September.
It’s a great start, but we have to do more.
When I visited Umu, I was shocked to see how she lived. Umu was living in a slum with "Little Umu" the baby she rescued who is now 17 and a mother to baby Paulina. Umu has never complained, let alone tell me of her living conditions which are a lean-to shack about 3 meters by 3 meters, with one bed that they share. The room has no electricity, cooking or toilet facilities and during the rainy season the roof leaks and disease is rampant. Last year Umu suffered Malaria and Typhoid.
We want to help find Umu somewhere better to live; somewhere she can study, somewhere she can be safe, somewhere she can thrive.
Umu is the first of what we hope will be many empowered, educated young women that we have helped to lead the way.
Sierra Leone's recent history has not been easy. 10 years of civil war killed over 50 thousand people and displaced nearly half of the 5 million population of the time. Ebola ravaged the country in 2014 and yet the people do not appear beaten or bitter in fact it feels the opposite, like the country itself, full of beauty and promise.
Full recovery takes time and help. Helping Umu is helping Sierra Leone.
Any donation big or small is greatly appreciated... sign up for monthly payments or make a Koha donation, it’s up to you. If you would like to stay posted on Umu’s progress and the work T.U.F will continue to do then please leave your name and contact details on our contact page.
NZ HERALD - 01/08/17
The Big Read: Former child soldier studying law thanks to Kiwi's help. With Phill Prendeville and Tristram Clayton