Sierra Leone is a West African nation, independent from the English colonists since 1961, marked by the deep challenges of a tropical climate and the institutional messiness following decolonization. In addition to this, between 1991 and 2002, Sierra Leone was devastated by an extremely violent and destructive civil war, resulting in more than 50000 casualties and in the displacement of 1.5 million people – that is, more than a quarter of the national population. Given the limited capability of the Government to intervene in postwar reconstruction, a plethora of small NGOs engage directly in rebuilding the facilities that the war as destroyed: one of them is the Voluntary Workcamps Association of Sierra Leone (VWASL), with whom I have had the pleasure to work while I was there.
Founded in 1970, VWASL was originally conceived as an organization for community development in general, promoting the spirit of volunteerism in response to the challenges posed by a rapid process of decolonization. After the war, which has destroyed the totality of the physical assets owned by the organization, VWASL has engaged proactively in post-conflict reconstruction, mobilizing the work of local and international volunteers to rebuild what the war has so utterly destroyed. For this purpose, VWASL organizes voluntary workcamps in the rural villages of Sierra Leone, where volunteers engage in rebuilding facilities, clearing roads, and re-activating the formerly prosperous sector of agriculture. To sustain its projects, VWASL can only count on the contribution of its donors and members to build, day by day, a new Sierra Leone.
On October 9th, 2011, I will run the International Lake Garda Marathon, with the purpose of raising funds for my fellow volunteers at VWASL. That really means “running for the life” of my Sierra Leonean organization, given that, in a war-ravaged country where reconstruction actually starts from scratch, every penny really makes a difference in terms of help perceived by the local volunteers. Please donate generously, as this means, in effect, engaging directly with building a better future for the hard-working people of Sierra Leone, and for the next generations.
VWASL online: http://sites.google.com/site/vworkcampsla/About