Often I find myself amazed at the kinds of people and organizations I encounter here in Sierra Leone. So many Sierra Leoneans are doing great work and are making the most of their skills and resources in order to further the development of their country. You rarely hear about these success stories in contrast to the bad news that often carries the weight of the media’s attention. One of these people is Ismail Bangura from the Binkolo Growth Centre near Makeni.
Binkolo is a small village just north of where I Live in Makeni. I met him through a friend from a partnering NGO. My friend heard of my work with moringa and knew of Ismail’s new venture with the processing of moringa, and she connected us. Tree of Life is growing and we are praying and exploring the possibility of joining partners in developing a network of farmers for the production and sale of moringa to local and international markets. This will give jobs to the local farmers and others and would hopefully encourage a new moringa industry that will benefit the country as a whole. We are still in the discussion and planning stages so I ask that you pray with us as we seek wisdom in this facet of the ministry here. We believe this will also open up opportunities into various communities to share of Tree of Life curriculum and the truth of the Gospel.
Binkolo Growth Center is truly a breath of fresh air. Mr. Bangura has been at the center since the war began and later reopened it when the war ended in 2001. His goal is to impart skills to local communities, advocate for them in the areas of marketing, and to encourage them in striving toward a self-sustainable life through the use of the skills they have acquired. The center consists of a carpentry shop, blacksmith shop, agriculture center, computer lab, conference hall, canteen, cassava/moringa processing center and various offices.
It was amazing to me to walk into the blacksmithing shop and to see polio victims, physically disabled, teaching young, healthy men the trades and skills that they had acquired. Mr. Bangura made a note of the role reversal and said that this was intentional. Mr. Bangura recognizes that many disabled individuals have intact minds that should be utilized in training others in their various areas of expertise. This has instilled within the disabled a sense of dignity since many often struggle with stigmas and the rejection of society in large. Mr. Bangura shared with us that he is a Christian and his commitment to the people at the center truly revealed a heart that longs to help the less fortunate within his country.
My prayer is that the Binkolo Growth Centre will continue to flourish and will be a partner with us as we continue with our ministry here. Please pray for Ismail and the center as they continue to make a difference in their community. Continue to pray for Tree of Life as we grow and form into a sustainable ministry here in Sierra Leone and for the development of long lasting partnerships. God bless you all and thank you for your continued support and prayers. LG+LP