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Chatham residents donate vital supplies to Sierra Leone school

Chatham residents donate vital supplies to Sierra Leone school

Two committed colleagues, responsible for looking after a residential development in Chatham, enlisted the support of their residents to help provide much-needed supplies to a school in Sierra Leone.

Sulaiman Bah and Lynn Hanna are development staff at Chatham Maritime, which is managed by Mainstay, part of the FirstPort group. They invited from over 300 homes at the development to support a cause close to Sulaiman’s heart – the King Solomon School of Excellence in Sierra Leone – by arranging for a shipping container to be delivered to the development to accept donations of clothing, furniture and supplies.

Originally from Sierra Leone himself, Sulaiman supports the school, which was founded during the Ebola pandemic in 2014, and has provided schooling, learning materials, clothing and other relief aid to around 500 children to-date.

The success of the school led to plans to expand, by building additional classrooms and boarding facilities. However, the wider implications of the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the school, and donations to support its work became more vital than ever.

To support the cause, Sulaiman, arranged for a shipping container to be delivered to Chatham Maritime. Sulaiman and Lynn then enlisted the support of residents, who filled the 40-foot container with generous donations of furniture, clothing and other supplies, throughout a two month period.

Once the container had been filled, Sulaiman travelled to Sierra Leone to personally receive the shipment, and to co-ordinate the delivery of the donations to the school.

Mark Spencer, Regional Manager at FirstPort, which manages Chatham Maritime, said:

“We are extremely proud of Sulaiman and Lynn, who have brilliantly managed the logistical challenges of supporting this fantastic cause. Their hard work and commitment to the cause is inspiring, and we’re delighted to see how the residents embraced their efforts through their generous donations.”

Sulaiman Bah said:

“When I began sending charitable items to Sierra Leone years ago, it would be just the one box being sent by shipping. Last year’s charity run however, has been my biggest project by far, being a 40 ft container filled with donated items. A second 40ft container is now being stored on site at Chatham Maritime, in the overflow car park.  Without the help of the local businesses and commercial tenants around the marina, this important charitable work would not be possible. Both the communities in Sierra Leone and I, are grateful to them.

The extreme poverty in Sierra Leone is a dire situation. Donated items that are sent help a variety of people in Sierra Leone, such as; schools, women’s and men’s groups, churches, mosques, hospitals and vulnerable children and adults.  Living conditions are very bad and the average living wage for a family is under $1.00 a day. The average lifespan of a poor person in Sierra Leone is between 45-50 years of age. Issues affecting the poor communities range from civil war, to epidemics of Ebola, and environmental disasters such as mud slides. Therefore, it is easy to see why charitable donations are vital for Sierra Leone.

Items supplied by the charity run are deemed to be items of luxury, and do make a difference to the daily lives of the poorer communities. All donations generously given, are greatly received by all those so much in need of them. This can be seen by the information provided via the photos sent.”