On Wednesday 7th October LifeLine Network International held a networking drinks reception at DLA Piper, aimed at connecting our friends from Sierra Leone, Lifeline Nehemiah Projects. Lifeline Nehemiah Projects is an NGO that aims to empower individuals and communities to prosper and become truly self-reliant.
Last year, Lifeline Nehemiah Projects mobilized a whole-community Ebola response, supporting over 93,000 people during the Ebola crisis, with food, education and health care. Set up in 1996 by local Sierra Leonean Richard Cole, to re-integrate ex-child combatants back into communities, the Nehemiah Project has expanded to offer accommodation, access to education, life skills training and mentoring to its beneficiaries.
The management team is made up of previous beneficiaries, including street children and ex-child soldiers, who have grown up, been through university and come back to support the work that once supported them. Deputy Director, Prince Tommy Williams, was captured by rebels at the age of 15, during the civil war. When he escaped a year later, having committed all manner of atrocities, Prince ended up at the Nehemiah Home.
At the event on 7th October, Prince spoke of his time as a child soldier and the transformation that eventually caused him to lead a fight against Ebola. When asked about the struggles and highlights of the last year, Prince said “the best thing about being in a position to respond to Ebola was being able to serve humanity”. As they witnessed neighbours dying, Lifeline Nehemiah Projects developed an education programme, supported Ebola affected families to self-quarantine, and built an Ebola clinic, causing them to be recognised by international NGOs as a leading local community organisation.
Lifeline Nehemiah Projects are now supporting orphans of Ebola. “Our vision for them is that they will receive the same investment that we did when we were taken in by Richard Cole. We don’t see orphans as victims; we see them as future leaders who will help rebuild the nation of Sierra Leone.”
Keynote speaker, Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of the Diamond Jubilee Trust has been an incredible supporter of the work. She said “I am honoured to be associated with you, you are astounding people. This kind of work is extraordinary, and I think it is beholden upon all of us to support it, to celebrate it and to move mountains to keep it going.”
Guests included Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey, Mr Douglas Scott Proudfoot who is the Minister-Counsellor of Political and Public Affairs at the Canadian High Commission, and Helen Jones, Director of Youth Affairs at the Royal Commonwealth Society.