Being able to farm and to feed one’s family is fundamental to rebuilding the lives of rural people traumatised by conflict. For the physically disabled this was considered near impossible, but a new farming venture in Sierra Leone is changing that perception.
Already one of the world’s poorest countries, Sierra Leone was devastated by an eleven-year civil war in which tens of thousands of people died and many more thousands had limbs amputated. In 2014, it was also the epicentre of the deadly Ebola virus epidemic.
The Sierra Leone Amputee Sports Association (SLASA) brings together single-legged amputees in the belief that sport can support the recovery of this marginalized group. In early 2020, it also established a 10-acre permaculture farm, offering employment to some of these amputees. Already, crops are already being harvested and seed produced (thanks to advice from Garden Organic and Vital Seeds), and both are being distributed to local communities.
Elementary and junior high school children are also participating in school gardening and demonstration farms as part of a wider programme of education for sustainable development. It is clear that farming cannot only help to heal the soil but also the physical and mental damage to rural people resulting from conflict.
This session, chaired by John Meadley, who has worked in countries in conflict, will provide an opportunity to hear the Sierra Leone story directly from Pastor Mambud Samai, the founder of SLASA.