Presenting the vehicles at a short ceremony held at the Bank’s new offices on Spur Road, Freetown, the World Bank Country Manager, Parminder Brar observed that the donation was made in line with the Bank’s standing policies on the disposal of assets. “The NGOs were selected on a competitive basis,” he said. “In making a donation like this, we have well-established procedures. A five-member Disposal Committee was formed, which evaluated the various organizations that declared their interest following an advertisement in 10 local newspapers. Public notices were also put out stating the Bank’s desire to donate three vehicles to deserving groups.”
“The registration certificates of all three organizations were also vetted through the Corporate Affairs Commission, to confirm their legal status as non-profit organizations,” he added.
Regional Superior for the Clarissan Missionary Sisters, Sr. Elisa Padilla, who was also at the event, expressed her mission’s gratitude to the Bank for the donation. She said her mission started operating in Sierra Leone in 1960, with communities in Mange Bureh in the Kambia District, Mile 91 in the Tonkolili District – all in the North region and Kailahun in the East.
She said they function as a charitable organization caring for the needy but focusing mainly on providing education and health services mostly to the girl child and lactating mothers in remote areas of the country. “We run several educational institutions starting from kindergarten grades, as we believe education is the most powerful tool that can be given to people to succeed,” she observed.
The organization, which is based in Lunsar in the Port Loko District, runs a health clinic at Mile 91 and will soon open a maternity centre in the area with the primary aim of reducing high mortality rates among women and children. Sister Padilla said the mission has been facing significant transportation difficulties as the vehicles they currently have are in a poor state. “We are grateful to the World Bank for this support, which we believe will help cushion our transportation constraints,” she said.
Another recipient was the Chairman of the Freetown Cheshire Management Committee, Dr. Abdulai Dumbuya, who thanked the Bank for considering their organization worthy of the donated vehicle. He said the Home hosts children and young people between ages 4 to 25 with mainly physical and learning challenges and that the vehicle will help boost their various supportive and empowering programmes. “The Home, he observed, has produced several talented individuals that have contributed to the development of this nation.”
Freetown Cheshire Home exists not only as a residential home caring for people living with special needs but also serves as a co-educational institution, that responds largely to the wellbeing and rehabilitation of orphans with physical, mental and learning demands. It was established in 1962 and is based in the East-End of Freetown, with related centres in Bo and Kenema.
Director of the Alagendra Foundation, Jatin Hiranandani, the final recipient, said the Bank’s donation was timely as local transportation was one of the challenges the organization continually faces. “The Foundation is based in Makeni but we’ve expanded our operation to Freetown, so the vehicle will be key in facilitating movement between our two locations and operations,” he said. “We are grateful to the Bank for considering our organization for this donation.”
Alagendra Foundation provides free educational materials and services to vulnerable children especially former child soldiers, through improved access to education. The Foundation was established between 2005-2008 by a Malaysian lawyer, who served as a Prosecution Counsel to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Hiranandani said their focus has also now been broadened to cater for children with limited access to education. The Foundation runs schools in the East-End of Freetown and Makeni in the North of the country.
British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Guy Warrington, also attended the ceremony and congratulated the recipient organizations.