Profile Sierra Leone

My name is Margaret Thorli, and I am a Sierra Leonean who grew up in London.

Before the Civil War, I used to visit Sierra Leone a lot. My eldest son grew up there, and was amongst the last people that were evacuated. My son saw many people, including his friends, being shot dead, so he has suffered a great trauma for years.

Thank God that now he is doing really well. Last year in August 07, I visited Sierra Leone. I was horrified to see what I saw. During my visit, I visited many communities and schools, and when I came back, I felt I needed to do something to help and support some of the communities and schools.

Last year in December 07, my company nominated Hope and Restoration as Charity of the Year. The aim of the charity is to help the communities to re-build their lives after 10 years of civil war. We are committed to sponsoring Education Programmes, Employment and Agriculture.

From 2007-2008, we managed to raise money to open our first school.

In May 2009, we opened a Training Vocational Hairdressing School, which has 50 students attending, and 100 on our waiting list. The school was registered with a local Sierra Leone Education Authority, and ran for one year.

Our Achievement upon completed the programme:

  • Out of 65 students, 45 completed the programme.
  • 5 went out to set up shops and do hairdressing at the same time, which has helped them to support their family from the life of poverty.
  • 30 are working from home and doing hairdressing, which is helping to support and provide for their family.
  • 10 left the school confidently, to go into further education.

Last year in December 2013, I visited Sierra Leone to meet the students that had graduated. I did not get to meet all of the students because some had travelled for the Christmas holiday; however those that I met are doing well. Once they had completed the training, we set five students in to business. Out of the five, three went on to set up shops of their own in order to support their families. One of the stories that really touched my heart was that of a lone parent with three children.  She said, “Since I completed the programme and earned some money, I was able to use it to set up a shop and pay for my children’s school fees while still being able to support my family. I don’t have to worry anymore about how to provide for my family”.

The other two women did not have any children, but they are doing incredibly well with their hairdressing businesses, supporting both themselves and their extended family. Another student I met who had completed her training has now gone back to college to do a Business Administration course. She told me, “The course has helped me to build my confidence to look for jobs and go back to college”.

I was so happy meeting these students and seeing how the programme has impacted their lives, their families, and their communities. It made me feel that all of the hard work was worth it, and the fundraising to make the school became a reality.

Thanks to all our supporters

From Margaret Thorli

Director Of Hope & Restoration For Sierra Leone