Giraffe Heroes Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a country the size of Iowa on the bulge of West Africa. It’s a potentially rich country, but impoverished by a brutal ten-year civil war that ended in 2002—think child soldiers and Blood Diamonds. The war killed thousands of people, destroyed infrastructure, and left many more people discouraged, apathetic and fearful. Sierra Leone needs a lot of inspiration, hope and guidance.

GHI Director John Graham spent eight days in Sierra Leone in May 2011 and came away impressed not just with the enormous tasks of governance and development at hand, but also with the longing of the people he met—from political leaders in Freetown to war victims in small camps upcountry—to heal the country's wounds and restart development work. Giraffe Heroes Sierra Leone can help by bringing Giraffe programs to the country, providing inspiration and training to people traumatized by the war. For a relatively low cost, GH-SL can help them regain their footing, renew their hope and help solve the enormous problems the country faces such as poverty, corruption and political violence.

John Graham at camp for war victims, Makeni, Sierra Leone

Everywhere Graham went in Sierra Leone, billboards proclaimed “Na wi country,” which is translated not just as “This is our country” but “This is OUR country.” The signs were symbols of a national pride rooted in the common good and a positive vision of the future that just might finally produce the stability and well-being that have long been promised but never delivered. It’s as if the whole country has discovered that building a safe, fair and prosperous nation can’t succeed unless they build it together. While in Sierra Leone, Graham gave a number of speeches and was interviewed at length by two national radio stations.

Giraffe Heroes Sierra Leone is being launched with the help of three outstanding NGO partners in the country. The lead partner is Hope Sierra Leone, led by John Bangura, himself honored as a Giraffe Hero four years ago for his courageous peace-building work in the aftermath of the Sierra Leonean civil war. John's organization works principally with the military, police and tribal chiefs. Our second partner is the B-Gifted Foundation, led by Andrew Greene, which focuses on war victims, women's issues and the environment. The third partner is Talking Drum Studio, led by Ambrose James, an affiliate of the US-based NGO Search for Common Ground. Talking Drum broadcasts all over Sierra Leone through a network of 26 radio stations. GH-SL hopes to use this network as the principal vehicle for disseminating stories of Sierra Leonean Giraffe Heroes. The country is so poor that cell phones or computers do not begin to cover all the rural areas.

GH-SL’s plan is to begin broadcasting stories of Sierra Leone's Giraffe Heroes by early next year. We will buttress the broadcasts with an active series of interviews and speeches by our NGO partners, encouraging the whole country to find, honor and emulate their fellow citizens who are acting with courage and compassion to heal divisions and build a successful common future.


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Snapshots of GHI

Graham and friends in Beirut
Young Leaders in Lagos
John Graham In Geneva
Graham and Sudanese Professor Afaf Al-Haboub in Geneva
jg at tilingatar
Graham and students in Kathmandu