Solar Projects

In addition to our solar powered Center we have supported a number of other solar installations in Golu and beyond. A reliable source of power is the foundation for other development efforts.

 

Completed Projects

 

Golu Health Center

In early 2016 we upgraded our solar power at the center so we ended up donating a small portable solar power unit to Golu's health center to allow for safer night time births. We've heard reports from the nurses that this small solar unit has play a major role in minimizing complications during the birthing process for the mother and baby - creating a safer environment for the nurses and women in the community.

Outside the Golu health center.

Outside the Golu health center.

One of the nurses in one of two rooms where they deliver babies.

One of the nurses in one of two rooms where they deliver babies.

 

June Hartranft Memorial Primary School

In January 2016 we were in Sierra Leone and decided to take the young girl that TVL sponsors to her boarding school in Moyamba. On this trip we were told that as part of her school supplies she needed kerosine and a lamp so that she could have light while studying at night or to use to find her way to the bathroom. Immediately we felt we  installing solar at the country’s only all girls boarding school in Moyamba. The June Hartranft Memorial Primary School for Girls has over 400 students and before TVL had no power source. The girls had to use kerosine to eat, study and go to the bathroom at night.

The solar we installed is providing a cleaner energy source and it’s much safer for the girls. It also cuts down on the expenses for the girls families.

Millicent Fillie - TVL's female student sponsor excited for solar to be installed at her school.

Millicent Fillie - TVL's female student sponsor excited for solar to be installed at her school.

TVL visiting with some of the students and teachers of the June Hartranft Memorial Primary School.

TVL visiting with some of the students and teachers of the June Hartranft Memorial Primary School.

 
Mosque in Golu.

Mosque in Golu.

Golu Muslim Mosque

The thing about development work is that sometimes it's pays to think outside of the box and help in areas that may not be your core focus. We try to stay focused on our core mission but after a recent upgrade to our Center's solar equipment we decided to donate our first set of solar equipment to the Mosque.

This was an act that helped to further deepen our bond, trust and relationship with the people of Golu. 

Ebola Relief 

During 2014 and early 2015 we had to put our development plans on hold. With all that was going on with Ebola we knew we had to help in some capacity. Check out how TVL was able to provide relief and support during the Ebola crisis.

 
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Radio education program

During the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone (2014) TVL had to put a temporary hold on development plans. Ebola was causing more harm than just the virus. During this time the country experienced an increase in teenage pregnancy. Many felt it was due to the cancellation of schools and young girls being orphaned by Ebola related deaths. This left girls more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, sexual assault and rape. Travel was also restricted throughout the country only adding to the difficulty and hardship the Ebola crisis brought upon Sierra Leone.

As a result of some of these pressing issues, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with UNICEF, instituted a Radio Education Program just before the new year. This program allowed students to take part in self-guided class lectures via radio broadcast. As great as this initiative was, it only catered to families that could afford a radio. TVL piggy backed onto this program to create the Golu Radio Education Tutoring Program.

By March 2015 we launched our program which included:

  • Distributing 100 radios, batteries and school supplies to 100 families in Golu;
  • Set up 1 on 1 tutoring schedule between students and local teachers at the resource center to help encourage participation in the program.
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Shipping medical supplies

In December 2014, TVL hosted the organization’s first annual benefit to raise awareness and funds to finance a few new projects we were planning to launch in early 2015, in response to the Ebola crisis. One of these projects was a joint effort between TVL and another NGO, Peace Builders. Peace Builders sends large shipments of medical and other aid to orphans around the world with a focus on war-torn and disaster-stricken areas. In 2014 Peace Builders came to TVL and asked if we could help fund the shipping costs to send almost $300,000 worth of donated medical supplies to Sierra Leone to aid in Ebola relief efforts. TVL said yes to Peace Builders request and committed to raising the funds required to ship the medical supplies. In January 2015 the medical supplies were shipped to Sierra Leone to help protect health professionals working with Ebola patients and prevent further spreading.

Below are the media articles that covered this story:

MercuryNews.com
Insidebayarea.com
Contracostatimes.com
abc7news.com

Peace Builders Partnership - Shipping Medical Supplies to Sierra Leone

In December 2014, TVL hosted the organization's first annual benefit to raise awareness and funds to finance a few new projects we were planning to launch in early 2015, in response to the Ebola crisis. One of these projects was a joint effort between TVL and another NGO, Peace Builders. Peace Builders sends large shipments of medical and other aid to orphans around the world with a focus on war-torn and disaster-stricken areas. In 2014 Peace Builders came to TVL and asked if we could help fund the shipping costs to send almost $300,000 worth of donated medical supplies to Sierra Leone to aid in Ebola relief efforts. TVL said yes to Peace Builders request and committed to raising the funds required to ship the medical supplies. In January 2015 the medical supplies were shipped to Sierra Leone to help protect health professionals working with Ebola patients and prevent further spreading.

Below are the media articles that covered this story:

MercuryNews.com Insidebayarea.com Contracostatimes.com abc7news.com

Back to OUR PROJECTS

More photos from our March 2015 educational program.

Literacy & Education | Empowering Entrepreneurship | Vocational Training & Job Creation

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Ever since the inception of The Village Link we have had a vision that involved a connected community resource center, offering a variety of educational and vocational programs, supported through paid local services. After 4 years we are finally in a position where internet is needed in order to keep the momentum of our progress moving forward. This past year we researched internet installation options specific for the terrain in Golu. After a bidding process took place, we settled on an internet service provider to help us with this project. TVL chose to work with Speednet Inc. to help us determine the right solution to meet our needs. We settled on a VSat solution that is typical in this type of geography for NGO's and hospitals to use.

What will internet in a village with no running water or reliable power source mean?

  • Access to FREE online educational tools such as Khan Academy, Wikipedia, digital copies of the Sierra Leone grade school curriculum, to name a few;
  • Ability to set up revenue channels such as an internet café, printing services and internet based training programs;
  • Job creation via enhanced entrepreneurial tools, assisting local initiatives, such as:
    • a regional brokerage service to trade and market local agricultural products;
    • an off-site meeting center for regional government, educational and business purposes;
    • an outsource center for data-entry that could offer reduced fees to local and national institutions.

We are happy to report that the internet is providing faster speeds than those available in the closest city, Bo, and the closest college campuses.

We have a lot of work ahead of us before the center becomes a self-sustaining entity providing consistent educational and vocational programs.

Please stay connected with TVL over social media to keep up on the latest developments in projects like this and others.

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In late August 2015 The Village Link headed back to Sierra Leone after a long year and half of not being able to travel due to the Ebola crisis. During this trip we worked with tech partner, LamTech, to launch the digital library. The digital library doesn't require internet to access and update content. LamTech has worked tirelessly to collect a variety of educational and news resources including Wikipedia, Khan Academy, Sierra Leone high school curriculum, local Sierra Leone newspaper websites, BBC and more. All of this content lives on a server that is connected to three custom made dust proof, solar powered desktop computers. Today we have 18 more laptops connected to the digital library expanding the number of people who can take advantage of free education.

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Rural Coding for Girls

15 High school girls participated

7 Week course taught by Silicon Valley coding volunteer via Skype

$300 Program cost

Over a 7 week period TVL conducted a distance ed, basics of coding, class for a group of 15 high-school girls from two different villages in rural Sierra Leone. How did we pull this off? Here's how:

  • We recruited a Silicon Valley coding expert volunteer to create the course curriculum and conduct weekly classes;
  • Classes were taught over Skype;
  • We partnered with World Vision as the internet service provider so we could have a connection once a week;
  • We partnered with a local, Sierra Leone run nonprofit located in Bumpe to provide the laptops and local teacher assistance.

Coming out of this course we learned a lot and most importantly we ignited an interest for a globally employable skill-set in these girls. Upon completion of the course they all asked about continuing. We're currently in the works of planning a follow up class to add on to the foundation of this intro to coding course.

This time, we've partnered with our local tech partner, LamTech, based out of Freetown to build a curriculum that will give the girls that excel in the next course an opportunity to take part in a paid internship with LamTech.

 

Eventually, our goal is to build a network of girls and boys with a strong knowledge of coding and digital literacy that companies like LamTech can outsource some of their work to the rural regions - providing job opportunities and creating economy. 

Learn more about what the girls learned each week by clicking on our blog posts below.

Journal Entry - Girls Learning to Code

Journal Entry #1 – Girls Learning to Code in Rural Sierra Leone

Journal Entry #2 – The Future of Sierra Leone

Journal Entry #3 – Girls Coding Update

Journal Entry #4 – Repetition leads to learning

Journal Entry #5 – Learning With Spirals and Smiles

Journal # 6 – Girls Coding Course Conclusion

Literacy & Education

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With education at the forefront of our organization's mission we are always looking for cost effective yet impactful ways we can help the underserved communities in Sierra Leone. In 2016 we helped 6 schools apply for a library through the African Library Project (see organization info below). Through TVL's mentorship we successfully got each school approved for new libraries. What this means is that each school has received a collection of 1000 books and teacher-librarian training which is delivered through our partners, Rise Network..

 

TVL worked closely with an up and coming nonprofit, African Library Project (ALP), to help them break into Sierra Leone by facilitating key contacts in ensuring a smooth launch. The African Library Project coordinates book drives in the United States and partners with African schools and villages to start small libraries. Since 2005 we have started or improved 1,942 libraries in sub-Saharan Africa.  148 of these are in Sierra Leone. For anyone interested in doing a book drive for Sierra Leone (1,000 gently-used books and about $500 to cover the cost of shipping them) you can get more information HERE.

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Literacy & Education | Empowering Entrepreneurship

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This past year we took two trips to Sierra Leone. One in the beginning of the year during January and the other this past September and October.

In January, we brought 10 new Rumie Educational tablets and taught a group of leaders in the community how to use them. These tablets provide additional early education and literacy learning materials.  This year, TVL also upgraded the solar array at the Golu center and installed solar for the first time at a girls primary school in Moyamba. Now over 500 girls can study by light vs. kerosine at night. You can read up more about our activities during our January trip here.

During the September trip, TVL expanded the center's capabilities and services by the addition of 20 new laptops. These laptops will be used for educational programs, such as coding classes and digital literacy while in conjunction being used to generate income for the center through paid use of the internet. We have a lot of work a head of us but the community of Golu is determined to keep moving forward. As they say, where there is a will, there is a way!

TVL’S next phase includes hiring local talent and training them in business, accounting basics and operations. The goal by end of 2017 is to have the center closer to a self sustaining entity, generating revenue that will pay for some of the center programs and operations.

Please stay connected over social media to keep up on the latest developments in projects like this and others.

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“Progress lies not in enhancing what is,

but in advancing toward what will be.”

- Khalil Gibran

Group Photo

This January the Village Link packed up and headed to Sierra Leone with an ambitious agenda for 10 days. Our trips tend to be fast and furious but always efficient. Here is a progress report on Project Golu and some of our other projects.


Santa Clara University GSBI Boost Accelerator Program

 

Dan and AnnIn the first half of the trip we took part in Santa Clara University GSBI Boost Accelerator program in Freetown. “GSBI Boost packs core business lessons into a powerful 3-day workshop. We help local, early-stage social entrepreneurs learn business fundamentals, improve their strategic thinking, and articulate a business plan that demonstrates impact, growth, and long-term financial sustainability.”

We invited three people from Golu to take part: John Trye, Center Operations Coordinator; Haruna Fillie, SL Project Coordinator; Ann Yokie, Golu village nurse. Additionally, we invited two of our key local partners to take part in hopes the program could advance their own enterprises. TVL’s founder, RoseAnn Rotandaro, was asked to be a guest speaker on the subject of Venture Capital. During the three days we helped to mentor our guests throughout the process. We wanted to be involved with this event because it is supporting economic development in the Sierra Leone and it was a great opportunity for us to further train and expose our volunteers to business process. Coming out of this workshop we are building a business plan around the services we want to provide in the Golu center.

More photos from the boost accelerator in Freetown.

 

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 Rumie Educational Tablet Class - Expanding the Digital Library

Colleen leads a class on how to use the new Rumie Tablets.

Part of the contributions people made to TVL in 2015 went towards funding the expansion of Golu's digital library content and equipment. With your donations we were able to purchase 10 Rumie educational tablets with a focus on primary level education. Part of what makes TVL different from larger non-profits is that we pride ourselves on working extremely close with the community to ensure future successes. When we brought the 10 tablets to the village TVL Director, Colleen Rossignol, lead a class room style session for the teachers, nurses and leaders in the community to learn how to use the tablets and access the content. John Trye, the centers operations coordinator helped Colleen by translating and demonstrating various uses on the tablets. RoseAnn assisted participants on a one on one basis with the tablet instructions and our volunteer, Daniel Rossignol, also pitched in to help! It was a huge team effort and all in all it was a highly successful class. Everyone was engaged, learned a lot and stayed long after to continue playing around on the tablets. Our hope is that the teachers in the primary school in Golu will use these tablets to supplement their classrooms and eventually help with adult literacy.

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VIDEO: TVL Teaches Tablet Education Class in Golu


Moyamba Girls School Solar Project - Solar Powered Education

TVL has sponsored a girl from Golu, to attend the country’s only all girl boarding school - June Hartranft Memorial Primary School. Upon arriving at Millicent's school we had a casual conversation with the headmaster, Mrs. Lahai and her head teacher. During this conversation we learned that there was no power in the school and that they were using kerosene lamps in the evenings. We expressed an interest in trying to help the school with providing solar but first we needed to know what this project was going to cost. Mrs. Lahai gave us some older quotes she had received in the past and after getting back to California we investigated the costs with our solar provider. It turns out that in order to provide solar power for a school of 450 girls across the whole campus including the dorms, barry and meal hall it would only cost $4,500 USD. With the help of donations we were able to make this happen within a week. We are proud to say the girls of June Hartranft Memorial Primary School now have power that will last at least for the next 10 years! Thank you to all that donate to TVL that help bring these sorts of opportunities to others in need.

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Bringing Internet to Golu - ISP/TVL Partnerships

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In late 2015 we received a private donation with the intention that this funding would go toward bringing internet services to Golu and the surrounding area as well as hiring a full-time person to manage the Center programs and services. During our trip we met with multiple ISP’s and started the process.

 

 

 

 

Building Sustainable Communities Together  

"Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies." 

- Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)


This has been one busy year and it wouldn't have been possible with out our dedicated donors. A BIG thank you goes out to all those that have shown TVL support over the years.

This year goes down as our most successful year to date! We made great strides towards achieving our goals with TVL Golu; to reduce poverty by empowering and facilitating economic development and sustainability through a community resource center that will provide entrepreneur mentorship, access to literacy, education and vocational programs.

It is important to remember that we can't do this alone. We rely on support from people like you to help us build sustainable communities in underserved regions together.

Last year we told you about our plan to expand the digital library, offer on-going digital literacy courses, and build a foundation towards a sustainable center and community. Below is a short update on some of the programs TVL completed during 2016. Look how far we've come!


Rural Internet Installation

Rural Internet Installation In September we accomplished one of our long term sustainability goals by installing internet in Golu. Internet in Golu will:

Create jobs; Enhance opportunities for learning; Expand the center's service offering; Create viable revenue channels; and Provide the community with better communication with people across the globe and in their own country. Having the internet is just a first step in economic sustainability for TVL Golu. We have a lot more work ahead of us but we're up for the challenge!

 

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In the next phase of TVL Golu, we will:

  • Hire and train local residents to run the center; and
  • Establish viable revenue channels that will support the cost of the center programs and operations without outside support for years to come.

Read More About Internet in Golu >>


Expanded Equipment

Expanded Educational Resources

We have expanded our educational resources with Rumie tablets and laptops. We are proud to say that we were able to purchase the laptops in Sierra Leone, which means we were supporting a local young entrepreneur. These devices will provide educational materials and also be used to teach digital literacy and coding classes. Some will be accessible to paying customers who want access to the internet.

 

Read More About Our Expanded Center >>

 

 


Rural Girls Coding Course

Rural girls get the chance to learn the basics of coding. Read what more about our future plan's for our coding program HERE.

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Children's Club: Early Childhood Education and Development

The first early childhood education class of it's kind. Learn more HERE.

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Library Project

Increased educational resources at 6 new schools. Learn more about our partnership with ALP HERE.

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We hope you are feeling inspired by the work we've been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. All donations can be made either through our DONATION PAGE or through our current Facebook Fundraiser Page. Double down on your impact when you give this year! Check with your organization's policy on matching donations.

 

November 27-28 2013: Journal Entry 2

Ibrahim, RoseAnn and her long time friend, Father Brian Starken, discussing TVL over lunch.
Ibrahim, RoseAnn and her long time friend, Father Brian Starken, discussing TVL over lunch.

Happy Thanksgiving from Sierra Leone! As North American’s we have so much to be thankful for. The everyday basics we take for granted, such as power that we have continuous access to all the time, is something others have never experienced or have to travel miles to have access to. This is just one thing we will be giving the village of Golu this Holiday!

If you've been following our Twitter and Facebook posts you already know that TVL is back in Sierra Leone this Holiday to get our first Community Resource Center (CRC) off the ground. In my first post (below) I let you in on all of the technology we’ve brought with us from Silicon Valley to get things started.

Before heading off to Golu, we've been meeting with our Sierra Leonian counterparts, friends and partners in Freetown. “Taking care of business” as they say. However, a big part of the joy for me coming back to this country is reconnecting with long time friends from my Peace Corps. volunteer days. One of those friends is an Irish Catholic priest, Father Brian Starken, who lived in Sierra Leone from 1975-1997. Six of those years were during the civil war. During the 1970’s and 80’s, Brian taught school in Pujehun and then build a secondary school in Gerehun. I also taught school in Pujehun and then later moved to Golu which is only 4 miles from Gerehun. So, Brian and I were acquainted then. During the war, the school Brian built was destroyed. He ran camps for villagers displaced by the war and homes for boy soldiers who were released by the armies after UNESCO came into the country and insisted on their release. Brian was back in Europe for a number of years and now has returned to work on a center in Kenema. Needless to say, it has been great to catch up with a dear friend and someone working with Sierra Leoneans in creating positive social change in their beautiful country.

Another dear friend of mine from my Peace Corps. volunteer days is Mr. Fillie, now Chief Fillie of Golu. He and his family lived with me back in the 70's and is someone I can’t wait to catch up with to see how his family is. I'm so excited to get back to the village and get the CRC lit up and ready for operation. It’s going to be a crazy and fun time for me and TVL!

Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter and our website for more updates on our Nov./Dec. 2013 trip to Salone and lighting up Project Golu! If you would like to make a donation to help us complete this project you can here.

November 25-26 2013: Journal Entry 1

Lighting Up Golu 2013
Lighting Up Golu 2013

In the past year we were able to complete construction on the physical building for the Community Resource Center (CRC) for Golu and partner with other businesses and organizations to equip the CRC with the necessary technology to kick-start the programs. Once again we are back in Golu, Sierra Leone to continue our progress with Project Golu and to soft launch the CRC.

After two days of travel, 130lbs of luggage, three solar kits, two e-Readers and a variety of solar panels we have finally arrived in Salone ready to light up Project Golu! The village of Golu consists of almost 1000 people and has never had the fortune of having power, making this the first time residents will have local access to power. Not only will the power be used to fuel the technology equipment and lights in the CRC but it will also eventually act as a charging station for anyone that with a mobile phone in the village.

Since arriving in Salone, November 23, 2013, we have already had a number of a great meetings! In addition to all of the work with preparing the CRC, we’re also working to partner with the Peace Corps. in Salone. Should we be able to partner with the Peace Corps. this would provide a response team in the region to support the efforts required to see Project Golu through to success and hopefully other villages. More to come on this as we continue our discussions with the Peace Corps. Feel free to tweet the Peace Corps. and let them know you think this would be a worthwhile project for them to partner with us on.

In addition to some exciting meetings we also learned that TVL has been granted a certificate of tax exemption, giving us an official nonprofit status in Salone! So now we are official in both the US and Sierra Leone. Very excited about this! It's a step forward in the right direction.

As you can imagine, we were very eager to start testing and setting up the solar units. Almost as soon as TVL arrived we started the testing process of the sample solar systems we brought with us from Silicon Valley. This includes two 15 watt panels, a 40 watt collapsable panel along with the rest of the system (battery etc.). We're heading to Golu in the next couple of days, where we will finish setting up the larger solar panels and installing all of the solar units, e-Readers and computers.

This is just the beginning of Project Golu and we still have a ways to go to make the CRC a fully functioning operation for the community. If you would like to make a donation to help us complete this project you can here. Donations will go to purchasing more solar units, computers, e-readers and furniture for the CRC.

Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter and our website for more updates on our Nov./Dec. 2013 trip to Salone and lighting up Project Golu!

 

Project Overview

Within 24hrs following the deadly mudslide on August 14, TVL was working with a small group of nonprofits, spanning across 3 continents, to organize relief efforts. The group consisted of Families Without Borders, The Waterbearers, Schools for Salone and local Sierra Leone based nonprofit, Young People In Action for Development (YOPAD). Through the power of WhatsApp, we were able to raise funds, build a plan, lock down logistics and volunteers in country in just 72 hours.

 
 
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OUR goal

Help prevent a cholera outbreak through delivery of Wave to Water, water filters. Each filter can provide clean drinking water for 100 people for up to 5 years.


 

the plan

Deliver 100 filters installed in large buckets to relief camps housing the mudslide victims.

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How we did it

  • TVL lead logistics planning, provided food and lodging for volunteers and raised $2,000 to cover transportation and 50 water buckets;
  • The Waterbearers contributed 100 filters shipped in from Liberia; 
  • Families Without Borders provided student volunteers to help with the distribution of buckets/filters in the initial 2 days;
  • YOPAD provided additional volunteers, sourced buckets, and has been TVL's key partner on ground for on going relief support after the initial delivery;
  • Schools For Salone contributed an additional $10,000 in supplies for victims and provided a vehicle for transportation.