The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles, the President of the National Farmers Federation Mr. Olu John and the Headman of Levuma village took part in the symbolic harvesting of the groundnuts.
‘We are proud at what the Sierra Leone Legal Aid and the National Farmers Federation have achieved in transforming the live of Santigie Kamara,’ Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said while harvesting the groundnuts. ”From an uncertain future when we secured Santigie’s freedom in May 2016, he now has a sustainable source of livelihood in farming. The message to all our former clients out there is this: ‘If Santigie can turn around his life, you too can make it.’ Just believe in yourself, work hard and ignore what the cynics may say about your past.”
The President of the National Farmers Federation, Mr. Olu John addressing a meeting at Levuma before the symbolic harvesting said they in the Farmers Federation had made a commitment on 14 July 2016 to lend efforts to the reintegration of former clients of the Legal Aid, which they have translated into practical terms. ‘The lesson we have learned is that you never give up on people,’ he said. ‘We have succeeded in transforming Santigie, we will succeed with all the others we have employed and those in the next cropping season.
Santigie spoke of the challenges he encountered reintegrating into the community. ‘People used to treat me differently as though I am a bad person,’ he said. He spoke of how he overcame those challenges by working hard and contributing to the welbeing of the community.
The former headman for the village, James Macfoy praised Mr. Olu John for providing leadership in the community. He said they have achieved a lot as a community because they have been following in the footsteps of Mr. John.
Santigie is the first of twenty-five former clients of the Legal Aid Board to benefit from the Cooperation Agreement between the two organizations. Following a meeting between the Board and four executive members of the National Farmers Federation 14 July 2016 in which the agreement was reached, Ms. Carlton-Hanciles immediately handed over Santigie to Mr. John.
Santigie had become a regular visitor to the office since the Board secured his freedom to ask for help with his reintegration.