A Chester youth worker has returned from a life-changing trip to Sierra Leone, where she visited projects supporting families to build a better future.
Siobhan Doyle, 22, travelled to Sierra Leone last month to meet communities who have been helped by the fundraising and campaigning of aid agency CAFOD’s supporters in England and Wales.
She spent nearly three weeks with local organisations which CAFOD supports and saw how community-led projects, training and education are helping to empower communities.
Siobhan, who recently graduated from the University of Chester after studying Spanish and international development, has been volunteering at Newman University in Birmingham in the chaplaincy team as part of her gap year with CAFOD.
She said: “We visited three rural communities in Kambia where local charity KADDRO works on access to water, sanitation and health, savings and loans groups, ways to make a living and women’s breastfeeding and pregnancy groups.
“One of the groups we met was the WASH (water, sanitation and health) committee in the Yeli Kunthai community. Before KADDRO’s intervention, many people did not have access to safe drinking water, they would usually need to walk to the nearest stream which could be two miles away.
“KADDRO helped to install a borehole in the community so they no longer had to walk to drink unsafe water, and they had more time to spend on their farms.”
Sierra Leone is one of the lowest-ranking countries in the world for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living.
Almost three-quarters of people live below the poverty line and the country was badly affected by the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
During their visit, the group spent time with different CAFOD partners including KADDRO in Kambia, which focuses on helping people make a living and providing support during emergencies like the Ebola crisis; The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, who work to improve water, agriculture, sanitation and hygiene in Bo, and Caritas Freetown which focuses on improving security and making sure the government is accountable to the poorest people in Freetown.
Siobhan said: “It was so great to see how dedicated the communities were to make these projects work and how CAFOD, KADDRO and the communities all work in partnership.”
Inspired by her trip, Siobhan plans to share her experiences and during Lent, hopes to organise fundraising events to help the communities she met – especially as this Lent, all donations to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal, up to £5 million, will be doubled by the UK government up until May 12.
For more information about CAFOD visit cafod.org.uk.