Badenya, a non-governmental organization serving the village of Dankawalie, Sierra Leone, is dedicated to the holistic development of solutions to the various educational, environmental and cultural needs of the community. Badenya is unique in that it relies on local decision making to identify needs and aspirations.
Alongside the local governance system, Badenya addresses issues ranging from housing and the environment to education and cultural preservation. Badenya identifies and emphasizes these issues through a variety of local and international tools including storytelling traditions, modern media and strategic planning. By taking the best of these very different methods, this process fosters the continued evolution of indigenous systems of knowledge to identify what the community wants to preserve, what it wants to change and the best way to take action. Badneya’s processes, methods and traditions are all best exemplified through the establishment of the Dankawalie Secondary School (DSS)a sutainable and dynamic school in a post-conflict remote rural village in Sierra Leone.
Badenya’s grass-roots model relies on support from voluntary labor and in-kind contributions from villagers, school fund raisers, scholarships from the Sierra Leonean government, individuals and foundations and the US Embassy in Sierra Leone.
Badenya’s Dankawalie Secondary School (DSS) is a sutainable and dynamic secondary school in this post-conflict remote rural village in Sierra Leone. Before the school was built: children were sent away to school. The result was a high level of violence, teen pregnancies, and drop out rates due to the lack of community support. Students did not reap the benefit of the local social, economic and knowledge networks. Families also had to find a way to afford lodging and food and make up for the loss of help at home.
Now students attending DSS acquire:
- academic foundation for higher education;
- vocational skills useful in an agricultural community;
- exposure to arts (traditional and contemporary); and,
- multi-lingual proficiency.
DSS has been allocated land to expand to the college level. Four other villages are interested in replicating the DSS model. All 19 students who took the senior secondary school admission exam succeded.
Cultural Preservation and Community Governance
In a post-conflict country like Sierra Leone and in other extremely income-poor remote rural areas, the decision making capacity often falls short of the challenge to provide critical services like quality education. Badenya’s Dankawalie project proves that by using innovative approaches to building up governance capacity, ones that use both indigenous and external sources of knowledge creation, it is possible to create change..
Badenya’s Dankawalie project is highly scalable in that it starts from the local traditions and capacities for knowledge creation and governance. In post-conflict locations this is the way to restore governance capacities and build the community’s confidence to learn from within and outside.
Environment and Housing
Badenya helped regenerate the local agro-forest economy by planting a forest that has provided economic and environmental benefits to the community. After the civil war, the forest provided fruit for eating and commerce and lumber to assist the community in rebuilding the destroyed houses. Badenya also raised funds to rebuild five of the village’s houses.