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Vocational school empowers youth

“Education is Freedom! Power! Life!”

This is the inspiring motto on CanSerra’s home page, a Canadian-based organization that builds schools and provides scholarships for children and young adults in Sierra Leone.

In 2023, CanSerra became a recipient of Madiro funding in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Toronto. This funding will support the building of a new vocational school in the Liberia Camp, Kissi Town, Waterloo Rural Area, about 50 km south of the capital city Freetown.

Although the construction of a school may seem like an atypical project for Madiro, this particular initiative is noticeable due to its impact on the communities in Sierra Leone. Vocational training is vital for young adults as it unlocks employment opportunities for students and enables them to support their families and communities in the future. Training and economic empowerment are key social determinants of health. The evidence behind education as a determinant of health is linked to life expectancy, morbidity and health behaviours - all critical factors that impact the overall health of a population.

The founder of CanSerra, Bassie Kargbo, came as a refugee from Sierra Leone to Thunder Bay in 2005 and divides his time between Canada and Sierra Leone.“ Vocational training provides knowledge that can lead to better employment, income and life opportunities,” Bassie explains. “ This in turn ensures that people have the resources to take proper care of their health.”

CanSerra’s vocational school will provide technical training to young women and men who may otherwise not have access to education. The five-room vocational school will offer classes in public health & reproductive care, computer science, catering, tailoring, hairdressing and cosmetology. Completing these three-year programs will ensure students are equipped with the skills they need to support themselves and their families in the long-run. Through their education and training at Canserra’s new school, these young adults will deepen their role in their communities thanks to their vocational achievements. CanSerra is hoping to grow the school in the future to include additional rooms and classes to reach more people and maximize their impact on the community.

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