Friday, May 20, 2005

FARDA: Friends of Africa Relief and Development Agency in Sierra Leone and Canada

FARDA's Executive Director S. Ansumana-Kawa was working for the Seed Multiplication Project in Makeni in the Bombali District in northern Sierra Leone in 1992 when he registered a rural development project with the then Ministry of Rural Development. That project was called the Small Farmers Rehabilitation and Development Project (SFRDP).

Two years later, Ansumana-Kawa traveled abroad to pursue a course in agriculture, but once abroad, the raging insurgence and the political climate in Sierra Leone would not permit my return. Because of this, he sought asylum in South Africa. And while there he re-named the SFRDP to Friends Reach Us Now, or Friends RUN.

Once back home in Sierra Leone in August 1998, together with the help of friends, he re-named Friends RUN to its current name, Friends of Africa Relief and Development Agency (FARDA).

The name was again change in 1998 to FARDA to reflect the broader roles of the organization mandated by the suffering taking place during and after the war and international chapters were created in Canada and the U.S.

But throughout all of the name changes, Ansumana-Kawa says the mission has remained constant. Today, FARDA still commits itself to engaging and assisting in seeking sustainable and compatible solutions to the problems of rural women, children, youth, and grassroots movements in post-war Sierra Leone. Since branching out and becoming international, the FARDA operation in Sierra Leone is now known as FARDA Sierra Leone (FARDASL)

FARDASL was recently engaged in programs/activities such as:

- Trauma Healing and Counseling Center for Street Children and Child Miners in the Kono District: funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through the National Commission for War Affected Children (NACWAC);

- Food-for-Work Program for women gardeners in 10 communities in Kailahun District. Supported by the World Food Program (WFP);

- Garden Program for Women in three chiefdoms in the Kailahun District: tools and seeds provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the UN;

- Garden Program in the Kono District: tool and seeds provided by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR);

- Skills Training Program for youths in Mobai, Kailahun District: UNDP funding through NACWAC;

- Environmental Education for School Children in five chiefdoms in the Kono District: supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Conservation Society

- Skills Development Training for Disadvantaged War Widows in Daru, Kailahun District. Supported by the German Ambassador’s Trust Fund.

FARDASL is registered with the Government and with the Association of Non-Governmental Organizations of Sierra Leone. It benefits from duty-free concession on materials brought into Sierra Leone for the lawful implementation of the organization’s programs. In the United States, the American Fund for Charities, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, supports FARDASL, making donations from US foundations and individuals tax-exempt to the extent allowed by US law.

And in Canada, FARDA Canada Inc. , founded in 2004 is a registered as a non-profit membership organization whose function is to lend support to FARDASL.

The projects with which FARDA Canada Inc. hopes to help FARDASL are:

Project 1: Rescue the Child Miners: Many unfortunate children out there deserve a place in the home and at school, not in mine holes. Join FARDA to rescue these kids and, through education, feeding, housing, and other support, give them a future. It is their right.

Project 2: Educate the Youth and Stop the Killer Disease: HIV/AIDS is slowly but steadily wiping out communities in Africa. Help us fight HIV/AIDS through education and other support. Educating girls may perhaps cut HIV/AIDS-related problems to a far lesser extent than we might have imagined.

Project 3: Women in Farming & Education (WIFE) Program: Especially in polygamous marriages, the woman is the backbone of the rural household in Africa. She farms and prepares food, and raises and educates the child. Help these impoverished women realize their struggle for recognition and equality.

Project 4: Basic Internet Knowledge and Education (BIKE): After a brutal and devastating war, contact with children and youth of other regions offers psychological and spiritual healing for Sierra Leone’s children and youth. Computers and the Internet can help address this need.

FARDASL argues that it is specifically worthy of support because even though during much of the war and even afterwards, international Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) played vital roles in providing basic services in the country, many of the INGOs have already left, or are in the process of leaving, the country.

Now, donor interest in the country is dwindling and international focus seems to be now diverted to other regions whose conflicts overshadow those in the West African sub region.

Because many services will collapse as the INGOs gradually leave, local organizations, like FARDASL, must organize, support, and assist Community-Based Organizations (or CBOs) and grassroots movements and, ultimately, rural communities and families at risk.

FARDASL also believes it can accomplish many basic goals and programs by far cheaper ways than many INGOs and therefore can, to a large extent, supplement the programs of INGOs, either as partners or when the INGOs leave.

Finally, FARDASL says that the communities in which they operate need any - and every - thing. And so that it can continue to provide service to communities in which it operates, FARDASL appeals for help – in cash or in kind – especially in the areas of transportation equipment: truck, school bus, motor bikes, bicycles; essential drugs and medical supplies; books and other school materials; office equipment (computers, printers, photocopiers, etc.); furniture (for school, office, and home); clothing and building materials; and seeds and farm tools and equipment. Used but still usable forms of these materials would be most appreciated.

FARDASL is asking, so, you may want to go to their site at:

and see if there something you can do.

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