Goderich Waldorf School Support
Goderich School of Sierra Leone - A Sister School of Waldorf High School
Since 2005-2006, Waldorf High School has made an annual commitment of support to the Goderich Waldorf School in the Freetown area of Sierra Leone, Africa. Founded to bring a Waldorf education to children of one of the poorest communities in the world, the Goderich Waldorf School is the only Waldorf School in West Africa. The Goderich Waldorf School support from Waldorf High School is driven by a student led committee. The Goderich Support Committee consists of students who are willing to give time and effort to raising funds for the medical, health, lunch, and building expenses at the Goderich Waldorf School. WHS senior classes have donated portions of their class funds to help support the Goderich Waldorf School; the class of 2010 gave up their senior trip entirely, sending all of their class funds to the Goderich Waldorf School and the Haiti Relief Fund. For the 2014-2015 school year, Waldorf High School raised a total of $3,700 in funds for our sister school.
Initially, Waldorf High School donations were put towards the Goderich Waldorf School's lunch program. For the past few years, we have helped primarily to support their medical fund, which provides the children with necessary vaccinations and medications, as well as supplies, such as mosquito nets to help prevent malaria. Over the years, in addition to health supplies, these funds supported the building of five small teacher quarters; bringing teachers together and helping them build a community life around the school, as well as protect the safety of the school building itself.
History of the Goderich Waldorf School
The Goderich Waldorf School of Sierra Leone was founded in 2001 at the end of the Sierra Leone’s ten year civil war by Shannoh Kandoh, a social worker from the area who founded Action for Child Protection. The school, originally located in the Goderich village area of Freetown, has now moved to the Rokel area also near Freetown and is the first Waldorf School in West Africa.
They are a tuition-free school dedicated to helping all children; many of the students were displaced or orphaned during the civil war, and would otherwise most likely never receive an education. Shannoh Kandoh started the school with a small group of dedicated teachers and social workers who worked free of charge during the early years of the school. With very little money and no organization behind them, they formed the small school, which now has changed many children’s lives. They wanted to give these children a chance to make something of themselves and their country.
Shannoh Kandoh and his devoted colleagues are currently serving about 187 children within five classes. The school has undergone great difficulties regarding location and rent over the past few years. The school was forced to move from their original location in Goderich Village due to a sudden rise in rent. The new location is in Rokel, Sierra Leone, 14 miles away from the Goderich Village.
This forced and difficult decision to move meant the loss of almost all of the school's original students. The children walk to school and the 14 mile move to Rokel meant that attending the school would no longer be possible for them. The loss of many of the students was a deeply sad moment in the school’s history.
Unfortunately, the government did not give the school an easy time on their new property, either. In order to legally stay on the property in Rokel, they are required the school to have a proper building on site. Affording the construction of a new school building was very difficult and threatened the continuance of the school. After concerted efforts in fundraising by friends in and outside of Sierra Leone, the Goderich Waldorf School was able to work with Earthship, Inc., an organization dedicated to building with recycled materials. Earthship, Inc. donated their expertise and time to help construct the building an train local community members in these building techniques. They were able to begin building a proper school structure. With more funding, they hope to continue the expansion of the building on their own with the community helpers.
Shannoh Kandoh, the founder of the Goderich Waldorf School, chose to educate the children of the school according to Waldorf Philosophy because he truly believed that these children needed much more than a standard education. Many of the students have been traumatized, deprived, or emotionally neglected. As stated by Abu Mansaray, one of the class teachers as well as the school’s social worker, “these traumatized children need more than a straightforward education. We mean to change men’s hearts through the healing power of this creative education.” (goderichwaldorf.org) He strongly feels that Waldorf education teaches children to live with purpose, understanding, and creativity, three principles which create a strong, influential human being.
Children's Lives in Sierra Leone
After Sierra Leone’s long and bloody civil war, the United Nations’ ranked it as one of the world’s poorest countries, with 98% of the population living in severe poverty. Many of Sierra Leone’s children were left orphaned or displaced due to attacks from rebels and the conscription of children as soldiers. These children had to learn to fight for their survival. Many young people had to find ways to support themselves; some became street venders, while others found their way into more risky business such as prostitution and drug dealing.
Education and protection, two qualities we expect to shape a child’s life, seldom crossed the path of these impoverished children of Sierra Leone. Most children survive with only one meal a day; attending school is costly and is not an option for much of the population.
Supporting Goderich Waldorf School is something we take very seriously at Waldorf High School - it has been extremely rewarding to see how much the Goderich Waldorf School has grown thought the years. As the Goderich Waldorf School increases enrollment, demands increase and even more support is needed to keep the school up and running. If you are interested in helping or wish to donate, please contact Ellie Delaney on behalf of the Goderich Committee of Waldorf High School.