We start by asking teachers, headteachers and children what they need. Then we set up projects to fulfil those needs and make sure they get done!
Corruption is endemic in many countries in the world. In West Africa it can be a big problem, so we only deal directly with those we are helping, and we make sure that everything we do is carefully monitored. To achieve this we use several control measures:
- careful monitoring of financial transactions takes place with a third party as witness;
- plans for projects have to be forwarded to EWA before ANY funds are released;
- we release funding in phases for larger projects;
- photos of progress have to be submitted before further funds are released;
- we use trusted contacts to carry out local monitoring of quality and quantity, including the sustainability of the wood for furniture;
- Trustees visit Sierra Leone regularly to carry out monitoring;
- we have a Risk Policy which makes clear that we have a low tolerance towards fiduciary, reputational, safeguarding and operational risks.
We use skilled local people to train others; for example, the furniture seen in Mano Dasse was roughly built, so our local contacts arranged for the carpenter in Mano Dasse to visit the carpenters in Bo to see the expected quality. In Kenema the carpenter has been able to take on apprentices because of work commissioned by EWA, and the carpenter in Lein reported that his business is also benefitting from the furniture project.
We encourage educators in Sierra Leone to take greater ownership of the projects and bring their ideas to us. For example, after EWA ran the first conferences for headteachers, a planning group of headteachers and education officers has been set up to plan future conferences. We were also happy to support the proposal for the printing press in Freetown, which should generate enough income to pay for printing exercise books for schools.