TVL is bringing free education to Golu, Sierra Leone!

After a long and hard year of battling Ebola, Sierra Leone is still working tirelessly to put the pieces of it's already fragile healthcare system, education system and economy back together. People are back to work but the lasting effects of Ebola are still very much present. There are more orphan's and teenage pregnancies than before and the local businesses are struggling to recoup lost revenues. During the height of the Ebola outbreak, TVL knew that the community we work in - Golu - really needed something to keep a sense of normalcy while things were anything but. So we proposed to the community committee an education program that would provide 300 children out of school with a daily obligation to lessons. On March 1st we launched our Radio Education & Tutoring Program. We provided 100 radios and 300 school supply kits so that the children could take advantage of the broadcasted school lessons that the Ministry of Education and UNICEF put on in place of schools being closed. In addition to this we hired 4 volunteer teachers from the community and provided a monthly stipend for them to help and tutor the children on their lessons. Furthermore, we wanted to encourage attendance and we were able to keep an average weekly attendance around 80% by providing incentives in the form of biscuits for the children.

Even though Ebola is still lingering in the country we are moving forward with our plans to install a digital library into the community resource center in Golu. TVL is headed back to Golu this August to begin the final phase of our Project Golu - providing access to free education. We have already purchased the digital library but we are still collecting donations to go towards more computers and tablets. If you would like to make a contribution towards free education in Golu you can do so here. TVL will also accept hardware donations. If you are upgrading your laptop or tablet you can make a donation to TVL by getting in touch with us at info@thevillagelink.org.

We'll keep you posted on our progress as we countdown the days until we leave and during our trip. Stay tuned for more!



The Village Link Team

We've been busy at The Village Link: June Update

We've been busy at The Village Link: June Update

The Village Link has been busy with Project Golu programs: Radio Education Program, Community Center Revenue Streams, Library Applications, Ebola Innovation Summit and Grant Proposal. Learn about the progress we've made.

UPDATE: Emergency Operating Center Pilot in Golu

For those of you following the Emergency Operating Center (EOC) Pilot Project, that we have been working, below is a quick update. From a health standpoint, Ebola has finally started to make a decline in daily reported cases. Schools in Sierra Leone are talking about re-opening and in the meantime the radio program will stay in effect. So things are headed in a much more positive direction than before the new year. With that said, there is still a ways to go to get Sierra Leone back to where it was before this devastating setback.

TVL's long time trusted partner, SBTS Group, will be sending an employee up to Golu this week to assess the situation and from there, we will jointly discuss the best strategy to launch the EOC pilot. This is a project that we both believe the CDC would like to see to help with today's crisis and tomorrows. There are long term plans to roll the same EOC template out across the country in various rural communities, if this pilot can prove to be a success in Golu. The goal of this project is to decentralize the response and reduce response times for emergency health reports. Currently, there is one response center in Freetown which feeds information out to the rest of the country. A faster response time is needed in order to get ahead of a major health crisis such as the Ebola outbreak. By installing EOC's across the country the response time should be able to be reduced.

In addition to SBTS Group leading the charge on the EOC pilot project, they have also graciously offered to provide Golu with a software that will track student illness reports per school. With schools re-opening and groups of people starting to gather again, before Ebola is completely gone, it will help give parents and educators peace of mind knowing that this type of information is being tracked.

As more updates come up we will continue to update you on this project.

TVL Meeting in Bundobu: Looking Towards The Future

This week TVL had a meeting in Bundobu to discuss future plan's for Golu and TVL. Our resource center volunteer in Golu, John Try met up with Mike O'Neill, Director, Global Safety and Security for Save The Children and long time Golu resident and friend of TVL's founder, Mr. Fillie.

Currently Mike is busy in Sierra Leone helping to set up an Ebola Hospital for the rest of the month. During his off time, he was able to meet with us to help strategize current and future opportunities for Golu and TVL.

TVL is currently working on raising funds to purchase and distribute radio's to families in Golu with school aged children so they can take part in the Ministry of Education's radio education program. This is a very affordable program and will provide the opportunity for children to catch up on their studies since schools are closed due to the Ebola crisis. You can make a contribution to this program here. Just $25 will get 1 radio and 2 batteries for a family in Golu.

Below are some more photo's from the meeting.


TVL Co-Director's Innovative Software Helps Sierra Leone In Fight Against Ebola

V.L.Directors E.Lewis and R.Rotandaro The Village Link's Co-Director, Evelyn Lewis is a very busy man. When he's not helping TVL, he is working for his other company, SBTS Group - an ICT consulting firm and TrainingSol - a training company and jobs portal. Most recently Evelyn has poured his time, money and resources into helping Sierra Leone fight the Ebola crisis in a more organized way despite the fact that his own business is suffering due to this crisis. He decided he needed to help because he could. Evelyn is just one of many Sierra Leonian entrepreneurs that have seen a major loss in revenue due to Ebola.

After he visited the EOC (Emergency Operations Center), the central coordination center all the agencies giving support, he immediately saw they were in need of help. What he saw was quite alarming given the magnitude of the crisis. There was only one lady, tasked with the job of answering phones and responsible for reporting all ebola cases in the country. This is when he knew that if Sierra Leone was going to battle this virus and have a shot at defeating it, they would have to more organized and better prepared to handle the workload.

Immediately, Evelyn got all of his staff started on writing a new software to coordinate the Ebola effort for the call center  and to make sure it was tailored specific to this effort. The new software is appropriately named the Ebola Operating System (EOS).

As Evelyn describes, "the need for the software was noted as the significant increase in calls contained sensitive operational and time-bound information required by the numerous ebola response teams and to primarily make sure all cases and calls were logged at the initial point of contact coming through the main telephone number 117 and centralize data gathering and sharing." The EOC call center was able to expand it's call center resources from only 16 lines to 62 lines with this new software.

Previously, call agents would handwrite the initial recordings at the beginning of the operations, then enter this data into separate excel spreadsheets causing a backlog of manual entry and delays in reaching out to the respective teams and susceptible to mistakes. This new software provides unified data in a centralized system based on the feedback of field teams.

In addition to building out a customized software, free of charge for all NGO's and the EOC to use, Evelyn and his team were able to provide training for the Ebola efforts and actually hired and trained all 200 employees for the call center, provided credential services for the quarantined areas and vehicle passes etc., to cover about 50,000 persons.  Evelyn and his team also donated short term support completely free to the people of Sierra Leone to help fight this crisis.

It's still an uphill battle they are fight in Sierra Leone but at least they are more organized and able to respond in a more timely manner, thanks to Evelyn and his teams timely response and generous donation. We're so proud of the work he is providing his country!