Friday, June 24, 2011


June 2011

Dear Kayla,

It is with joy that Abu and family say thank you for the letter with the lovely pictures in it. The picture of you in the green hat is one he loves most.

Here it is sunny day by day and getting warmer all the time. This is the brushing and felling time; farmers are busy. In fact, some people have burnt the farms and are now waiting for the rains.

Also, the hat you sent him fits him. He is happy and feels proud when he puts the hat on.

The house sports took place in March from the 9th to the 11th. Abu's house, yellow, won again! Yellow had 386, red 350 points, blue 300 points, and green 284 points.

Again, Abu says thank you and prays that God protects you and your family.


June 2011

Dear Kayla,

Abu says thank you for the lovely letter written on February 8th.

In it, he learnt about the weather in your country. He's sad because of the snow. It sounds strange to hear and know that schools were closed because of snow. In his country they only know of dew and rain and even that only lasts for two months.

He says thank you for the pencils, pencil sharpner, and notebook. Out of the notebook, Abu took two papers to draw a cockroach and an elephant grass.

The cockroach is found in the house while the elephant grass is found in the fields.

Abu and family say thank you and your family for those gifts you sent and pray that God continues to guide and make provision for you all.

News From Sierra Leone in 2010

Sierra Leone's economy grew in 2010 with the help of increased bauxite and rutile mining. News of offshore oil discoveries gives hope for future economic growth. Povery is a major problem in Sierra Leone wiht over 70% of people living below the poverty line and an extremely large income gap between the rich and the poor. About a quarter of the population has limited access to food and around 40% of children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished. The United Nations removed the last of its sanctions, including an arms embargo against Sierra Leone in September 2010. The sanctions began more than 12 years ago during Sierra Leone's bloody civil conflict that ended in 2002.

Recognizing Bagbo Community Accomplishments

- Monitored children's health and helped sick and malnourished children access medical treatment.

- Distributed treated bed nets to help control the spread of malaria amoung children and pregnant women.

- Partnered with the local health department to immunize and deworm children.

- Worked to reduce malnutrition in children under age 5 by training caregivers in nutrition, treatment of diarrhea, and the importance of breastfeeding.

- Constructed public latrines and renovated wells to improve sanitation and decrease the prevalence of waterborne illness.

- Held camps and retreats to provide spirtual nurture for children.

- Worked with local churches to organize kids' clubs, increasing children's opportunities to learn about God's Word.

- Partnered with communities to build schools and classrooms, improving the learning environment and increasing enrollment.

- Trained school management committees to monitor educational programs and improve school performance.

- Trained community disaster committees to respond to emergencies such as agricultural pest infestations, which threatens food security in the region.

Puff Cake!

May 2011

Dear Kayla,

On behalf of Abu and family, I say thank you for the letter and the two postcards you sent to him. The two cards are lovely but he loves the stickers on the letter more.

The new year started good and is still going on. It is time for farmers to brush and burn their farms. Since most people are farmers they are working very hard.

There was a short break in the school for house sports. Abu was in the yellow house. The school has four houses - Yellow, Blue, Red, and Green. Abu's house, yellow, came in first! Red second, blue third, and green took the last position. Certificates were awarded to pupils who did best.

When your child watched the card with beignets, he felt like eating some. Such dough in deep friend in his community is called "Puff-Cake."

Once more, Abu and family say thank you and your family and prays that relationships between both families last longer.

Pray For the New Year

April 2011

Dear Kayla,

Your letter written on November 8th reached here on January 19th. It was much appreciated by him and his grandparents. He enjoys the decorations  on it, especially the one that looks like a small boy.

Abu and friends had a great time playing games and making fun. His favorite is the fast ball game.

The weather here is colder. Leaves are changing colors the farmers are brushing forests to make farms. The sky is blue and flowers are dying slowly.

Schools are now in session. Abu and friends go to school Monday to Friday and rest on Saturday and Sunday every week.

Again Abu and parents say thank you for the lovely picture and stickers you sent for him and pray the new year brings you all joy and success in everything you do.

Thanks For The Lovely Gifts

April 2011

Dear Kayla,

Abu got the letter you wrote in October just after the new year. The decorated stickers on his letter were lovely.

His grandparents told him to say thank you for the lovely gifts for his friends. The stickers portrayed the Halloween fun.

Schools were closed for two weeks and reopened last week after Christmas and new year.

Abu is back in school with his friends and teachers.

It is getting cooler slowly here and farmers are starting to work in their farms. The river beds are going down slowly. Birds sing every day in the forest.

Abu's grandmother was sick but she is recovering now.

Once again, Abu's grandparents want to thank you even more for your kindness.

Knowing More About You

December 2010

Dear Kayla,

Abu is happy to get a letter from you and to know more about you and your country.

He is happy to know that you have 22 students in your class some of which are his age.

Abu is is learning how to add, subtract, and multiply numbers and about the kinds of food they eat.

It is now raining in his country every day. The trees are green and some will soon give flowers. Schools were closed in July and will reopen in September. Abu has fun with his friends even though it rains sometimes. They go to the field to play football and hand ball.

Once more, Abu and grandparents say thank you and pray that God continues to bless you and your family.

Progress Report #3

Child's Name: Abu-Bakarr Kanu

My health is: Satisfactory

My height is: 119 cm (3' 10")

My weight is: 20 kg (44 pounds)

I am in: Primary School

I am: Retained in grade 1 for academic weakness (Very sad day)

My favorite subject is: Physical Education

When I grow up I want to be: A Teacher

My personality is: Shy, Kind, and Friendly

Many Thanks

September 2010 (because of the three months it takes the letter to get there and then the three months it takes to get back, sometimes our letter topics don't fit with the time of the year)

Dear Kayla,

Abu received your letter in June with many thanks to your and your family.

His Christmas day was spent with his grandparents as Abu's parents were away from home. Food was in abundance and thef amily friends came to them in the evening to dance the nature dance. Drinks were served and joyfully the day went by.

After Christmas came the Easter holidays for two weeks. Abu stayed home with friends playing games like football and Ludo (anybody know what this is?)

Schools are now taking final exams for this academic year, which started in September and will end in July. Abu hopes to go to a new class next year.

Abu and his family say thank you and pray that you live large.

News From Sierra Leone in 2009

Between the last year's news and 2009's news is when I didn't receive any letters from Abu. (It's so different now! I get like one a month now!)

In 2009, the UN declared that efforts to restore peace and prosperity following the 2002 conclusion to Sierra Leone's decade-long war were still fragile, despite effective rebuilding steps. The country remains near the bottom of the Human Development Index, with 7 in 10 people living below the poverty line. Income distribution is extremely uneven, and unemployment is an ongoing problem. Two in three Sierra Leoneans engage in subsistence farming, but poor agricultural practices limit production, contributing to food insecurity. Economic policy has shifted from post-conflict stabilization to poverty-reduction efforts, including a focus on job creation and food security. Progress depends on the maintenance of internal peace and significant foreign assisstance to offset trade and supplement government revenues.

Bagbo Community Accomplishments

- Provided training for 40 Sunday school teachers, strengthening their ability to give spiritual guidance to children.

- Celebrated birthdays with more than 2,600 children, distributing gifts of biscuits, snacks, and soft drinks.

- Trained 30 church leaders through Channels of Hope, educating them about HIV and encouraging compassionate responses.

- Facilitated immunizations for 1,500 children, helping to protect them from diseases.

- Coordinated deworming of 6,694 children, contributing to improved health.

- Educated 6,694 students on basic hygiene, encouraging healthy lifestyles.

- Supplied schools with teaching and learning materials.

- Built ramps at schools to provide disabled children and teachers with access to education.

- Contructed a school, providing an improved learning environment for than 400 new students.

- Supplied a school with 60 new desks and 60 new benches.

- Constructed a latrine and protected a water sources, helping to reduce the risks of waterborne diseases.

News From Sierra Leone in 2008

In 2008 the government of Sierra Leone continued to work on reducing corruption. High levels of unemployment, low labor productivity, and a lack of irrigation structures and tools contributed to high food insecurity. Although school enrollment is increasing, the gender gap is still widening. Sierra Leone continues to rank at the bottom of the Human Development Index, with more than two-thirds of the population living below the natinal poverty line.

Bagbo Community Accomplishments

- Formed a Church, Hope, and Action team wiht 60 people, empowering them to educate their congregation about HIV and AIDS.

- Honored 2,612 children birthday parties, distributing biscuits and gifts.

- Educated 700 women and 140 community leader on safe motherhood, improving child child care and well-being.

- Distributed 1,000 mosquito nets to pregnant women and children, reducing the risk of malaria.

- Conducted medical check-ups and deworming for 2,500 children.

- Trained 60 traditional birth attendents on maternal-child health.

- Trained 60 teachers on life skills, enabling them to promote healthy choices to their students.

- Educated 300 students on life skills, empowering them to be peer educators in the community.

- Constructed three wells to increase access to safe water.

Progress Report #2

I literally didn't receive any letters from him for a whole year. There was a glitch in the mail system in his community and he didn't get any letters from me, so he didn't have anything to write back to. It was a confusing and upsetting time for me. I did a lot of doubting. I started to convince myself that Abu didn't actually exist and I was donating my money to a fake oraganization. I was in bad spirits.

July 2009

My name is: Abu-Bakarr Kanu

My health is:  Satisfactory

My weight is: 20 kg (44 pounds)

My height is: 113 cm (3' 8")

This year I am in class: 1A

My academic results were: Good

Child's Dream/Ambition: I will like to be a teacher

Progress Report #1

These are my most treasured possessions. I receive a progress report every summer. Each one contains a new picture of Abu. I cannot stop looking at them. I keep the most current picture in my wallet because I'm just so proud of him. I like showing him off like a proud mama.

My name is: Abu-Bakarr Kanu

My health is: Satisfactory

My height is: 108 cm. (3' 6")

My weight is: 18 kg. (39 pounds)

Last year I was in grade: 1

My academic results were: Good

Child's Dream/Ambition:  I want to write plays

News From Sierra Leone in 2007

In 2007 Sierra Leone experienced peace and stability. A new government took offie and pledged to tackle corruption. Religious tolerance is high between the two major religious groups, Christians and Muslims. both participate in community development projects. However, crushing poverty, weak rule of law, and the inequitable distribution of resources persist. Sierra Leone continues to rank at the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Report with a poverty level of 70% and an average life expectancy of 41.8 years.

Bagbo Community (that's where Abu lives) Accomplishments in 2007

- Trained 50 pastors to teach Sunday school, strengthening their skills to spread the Good News to children.

- Celebrated birthdays with 2,351 children distribuiting sweets and a small toy improving self-esteem

- Distributed 330 goats to 106 orphaned and vulnerable children, improving food security and generating income.

- Distributed mosquito nets to 3,800 people, reducing the risk of malaria.

- Dewormed 2,285 children, improving their health.

- Trained 90 children on value-based and lfie skills, promoting healthy choices.

- Conducted medical check-ups of 2,285 children, ensuring good health

- Distributed school uniforms, shoes, and a school bag and supplies to 135 orphaned and vulnerable children, improving their self-esteem.

- Constructed toilets at a school, improving sanitation

- Funded 12 new groups to begin income-generating activities.

Grateful To Know You

June 2008

Your child Abu says he was happy to receive a letter from you and he is grateful to both you and your family.

He says that in the envelope were stickers and a letter. He says he can now see you in his mind though you are far away from him.

Abu says he started school last September and that he likes ball games. Also he says he has two sisters and two brothers.

He says out of school, he follows his parents to the farm because they are subsistence farmers.

Once more, Abu says thank you.

With Joy

May 2008

Your newly sponsored child says that it is with joy and pleasure to greet and thank you for opting to support him, his family, and his community.

He says he lives with his parents in a locally built hut in a small community south in his country. He says his country has two seasons: wet and dry.

His community, he says, is located on a flat land 12 kilometers to the nearest headquarter town and to the nearest health center.

In his community, he says, the peoples' main activity is subsistence faming. He says some people do fishing on the Mogbon River.

Your child says his favorite food is rice and he can eat pineapple almost everyday. He says he feels good and fine to hear from you.

A Look at Your Sponsored Child's World

Who are the People?

Sierra Leone is a mosaic of ethnic tribes. Nine of every ten people are descendents of tribes native to Africa. The remaining 10 % are descendents of freed slaves called "Creoles."

The capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown, was established by Creoles in the late 1700's. The Creoles spoke a derivitave of English called Krio, which continues to be the common language throughout the country today. Only a small minority of Sierra Leoneans speak the country's official language, English.

Most of the population lives in rural farming communities. Sierra Leone dwellings are genrally mud huts with dirt floors and thatched roofs.

Sierra Leone has one of the lowest average incomes in the world. Nearly 75% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, with over half the population living on less than $1 a day. Most families do not have sufficient resources to purchase essential items.

Approximately two-thirds of the population depends on subsistence faming for survival. A typical family's  diet consists of rice, cassave root, and leafy vegetables. They grow barely enough food to feed their families; half of the population is chronically undernourished.

Access to health care is severely limited, especially in rural areas. Sierra Leone also has a high maternal mortality rate: one of every 50 births results in the mother's death.

Country Comparisons

Population- Sierra Leone: 5.3 Million. United States: 295.4 Million

Land Mass- Sierra Leone: 74,132 squre miles. United States: 3,537,439 square miles.

Life Expectancy- Sierra Leone: 41 Years. United States: 78 Years

Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000)- Sierra Leone: 165. United States: 7.

Literacy Rate- Sierra Leone: 30%. United States: 97%.

Primary School Enrollment- Sierra Leone: 41%. United States: 100%.

Access to Safe Water- Sierra Leone: 57%. United States: 100%.

Avg. Annual Income Per Capita- Sierra Leone: $200. United States: $41,400.

Get to Know Your Sponsored Child

March 31st, 2008

Name: Abu-Bakarr Kanu

Gender: Boy

Birthday: May 10th, 2002

Country: Sierra Leone

Abu Bakarr lives with his relatives and 4 sisters. His relatives struggle to provide for the family.

Abu Bakarr is growing up in a farming province located in southwest Sierra Leone. Houses are made of mud bricks and thatch roofs. Staples foods include rice, cassava, and leafy vegetables. The terrain is flat and rugged but the soil is dark and fertile. The rainy season is May to October and the temperature is milder. The climate is dryer, but humid and warm, from November to April.

Abu Bakarr is not in school at this time. He likes to play house. he helps at home by running errands. He is in good health.

Your sponsorship commitment will help provide Abu-Bakarr and his community with improved school infrastrctures, equipped health facilities, livestock and agricultural enhancements, training in agricultural technology and development to improve food security, and Christian facilitation and nurturing.

Letters to Abu

The whole point of this blog is to have a place to store the letters I get from the child I sponsor. I started sponsoring a child from Sierra Leone three years ago. His name is Abu-Bakarr and he is now 9 years old. We have been sending letters back and forth since the very beginning.

Right now (and I will continue to do so) I keep all of his letters and progress reports in a three ring binder. I know that this is a great way to do it and I will never like anything better than being able to turn through them all and see where we've been and where we are now, but I know that anything can happen and these things can all be destroyed. So, I created this blog to have a place to type everything up that he has sent to me. All of his letters are dictated to a volunteer that writes for him but it has just as much meaning to me.

This blog will have many new posts come today and then after that they will drop down significantly, as I only get a letter/update from him every month or two.

I'm not really expecting any followers on this blog. It's really something I just want to do.