WHAT THIS PAGE IS ALL ABOUT....
The pages below tell the story of the early days of Saint Faith's Church's involvement with what was to become the Waterloo Partnership. They represent milestones in the journey that led from Claire Curtis-Thomas's first visit to Sierra Leone to the foundation and naming of the Partnership two years later. Naturally, some of the plans and aspirations charted below have been overtaken by events, and they should be read in that light. It is with great pride that we can report that the Partnership is, in 2007. very much alive and well, and has plans afoot and visits and exchanges in the pipeline beyond the original vision of its founders.
To follow the current story of the Waterloo Partnership, to read about its background, the various expeditions made to our namesake community in recent years, to see galleries of pictures and to follow the exciting plnas for the years ahead, follow THIS LINK
The articles on this page provide the background and developing information about the proposed link between the communities of Liverpool's Waterloo and the community of Waterloo, Sierra Leone, with a particular focus on Saint Faith's plans to link up with and to support school and church communities there. Follow the build-up here, or follow the link below for 'Meeting their Waterloo'
Updates and Additions Log
February 24th: new 'Crosby Herald' article about our appeal
February 5th: updated news and Sierra Leone visits details
January 29th: more pictures and details about the Classroom Appeal at St Faith's
January 8th: Article about Waterloo Secondary School added
December 29th: 'Crosby Herald' article added
May 23rd, 2005: Outline of forthcoming visit to Waterloo
May 26th: Article by St Faith's representative, Mrs Kathy Zimak
(from this date updates were carried on the Waterloo Partnership home page)
'Meeting their Waterloo'
Following THIS LINK opens a new page with words and pictures of the Waterloo group's June 2005 visit
The Background and the Build-Up:
Before long it is hoped that a link will be established between Liverpool and the war-ravaged country of Sierra Leone in West Africa. Not nation to nation - but community to community: the townships of Waterloo in north Liverpool and Waterloo, south east of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Although the offical name of our church is Saint Faith's, Great Crosby, the church is actually situated in the district of Waterloo, and we are seeking ways of establishing links with our namesake town.
The idea came after a visit by Claire Curtis-Thomas, Member of Parliament for Crosby (which includes Waterloo) to the church. She spoke powerfully to our Sunday morning congregation about the plight of the people of Sierra Leone, which she had recently seen at first hand, and wondered if we could be part of a project to offer help. From the outset, it was stressed that what was being sought for was not financial assistance - St Faith's and St Mary's are already committed to an ongoing project to provide financial support a school and hospital via Medic Malawi (click on this link for more information about this) - but practical and moral support through the establishment of contacts and the sending out of materials and supplies to help the rebuilding process of the community of Waterloo.
As a result, a support group has been set up and is preparing to
go into action in the new year. Watch this space for updates and
as things come together. To open the project, look at the map below,
Waterloo is lcoated below and to the right of coastal Freetown. Below
map is Claire Curtis-Thomas's letter asking for support and explaining
her hope that an unofficial, but very practical 'twinning' arrangement
can be set up between the two Waterloos. The photographs show something
of the challenge to be faced, and the letter explains more. We very
hope that we, together with other churches, schools and groups of
in our area, will soon be bale to do something to reach out to a
which shares our name but little of our comfortable standards and
A Letter from Claire Curtis-Thomas
Waterloo, Merseyside with Waterloo, Sierra Leone
Last year I was invited to visit Sierra Leone as a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Until 2002, Sierra Leone was gripped by civil war until the British Army was invited to intervene by the President of Sierra Leone. Since then this small country of five million exceptionally poor people has been trying to return to normal.
Despite extensive briefings prior to our departure about the calamity that we were about to confront, I was and I still am profoundly affected by what I saw.
During the civil war, 8000 people were
by their neighbours, their friends or members of their own families.
of thousands of women and children were raped, thousands more were
or had one or more limbs amputated. Amputees are everywhere, some
arms, some missing legs, and some missing both - they beg for money
a tin hung around their necks. The prosthetic limb factory in Freetown
is just one of many similar factories across this troubled country.
The capital city of Freetown is a shifting mass of two million people, the vast majority of whom are unemployed and unemployable as a result of training and education programmes ceasing to exist during the war.
The UK is committed to helping Sierra Leone get back on its feet and we are actively involved in rebuilding the courts, police and army structure,s despite the fact that the development of the country is constantly challenged by epidemic levels of corruption. However, living day to day in a land devoid of a constant supply of clean, fresh water, electricity or sewage disposal systems are people: people just like us - with the same hopes and aspirations. I met mums who wanted their children to go to good schools, grandmas who were worried about granddaughters, teachers (fantastic teachers) who strove to share everything they know with eager children, without books, materials or pens to help them. I met church parishioners who wanted to know what we would all be doing to celebrate Christmas. Despite our huge material differences we have, in my opinion, a great deal in common.
About three hours drive from the capital,
Freetown is the small town of Waterloo - a busy community with an
high street - not too dissimilar to South Road in Waterloo, but with
the saleable goods set out on the road. There are a number of schools
churches and training facilities, none of which have any teaching
of any kind.
During the last six months, I have visited a number of local schools and churches to determine if there was any support for developing links between our respective communities and I have been overwhelmed by the response. It is very apparent that as a community, we have a great deal to offer the people of Waterloo in Sierra Leone and they have a great deal to offer us.
I am aware that many of the normal
arrangements and criteria could not be fulfilled. However, twinning
Waterloo in Sierra Leone presents us with a unique opportunity to share
Member of Parliament for Crosby
Front page in the local paper!
below is the front page (and page 2 follow-up) lead from the 'Crosby
of Thursday, December 23rd, 2004
We're finding out more about the community of
Sierra Leone, and in particular about the secondary school there, which
we hope will become a focus of our support. The article below, which is
being published in the forthcoming February issue of our parish
Newslink, explains something of the school, its situation, its problems
and needs and what we may be able to do to build links with it and with
the Anglican church whose parish priest is a teacher there.
Waterloo Link ... connecting with Sierra Leone
Our efforts to build a link between St Faith’s and other local community groups and the township of Waterloo in war-ravaged Sierra Leone are beginning to take shape. Claire Curtis-Thomas, our M.P. and prime mover in the support movement, has updated me on the situation and on what we can do.
As we heard her describe so graphically when she visited us, Sierra Leone is slowly recovering from the ravages of civil war, during which rebel forces deliberately destroyed facilities and communities, terrorising those who stood in their way. Boy soldiers were forced to mutilate and kill, and systematic amputation was used as a weapon of submission and conquest. The situation now is more stable, and for the last 18 months the British Army has helped to maintain a fair degree of order, although the surrounding countries, particularly Liberia, remain a threat and a source of danger. The tribes that make up the population of Sierra Leone and neighbouring nations have a long tradition of brutality and violence, including ritual female mutilation, which is hard to eradicate. At the same time the country has a strong Christian tradition and during the last century was a centre of mission and outreach, and the church remains a strong force today.
Claire has been in email contact with Mrs Rosetta Kargbo, the secretary of the local school in Waterloo, which she has visited and whose support will, we hope, be a focus of our efforts in the months ahead. It goes by the name of the Rural Training and Commercial Institute, and caters for some 700 children between the ages of 12 and 18. Some 22 teachers, who include the local Anglican Priest, the Revd Israel Doherty, teach in just three classrooms with minimal facilities: benches, but few if any chairs, and no desks. Education is nominally free, but pupils pay a small charge and must provide their own uniform and books; facilities are very sparse, with an almost total shortage of paper, writing materials or decorations. There is little or no central funding in what is one of the world’s poorest countries. The teachers, formally educated and trained, are committed and enthusiastic, but working under great difficulties and hardship as they try to pick up the pieces after years of terror and destruction. The school serves a hinterland some 30 or 40 miles wide, with a population of perhaps 250,000. Access is possible only by 4x4 vehicles; there is little or no electricity and limited communications. The basic building is set against semi-tropical rain and deciduous forest and its climate is hot and wet. The school community has a warm and caring ethos and a strong emphasis on ‘old-fashioned’ values and discipline, and offers real hope in a country desperately in need of what it, and other schools like it, can offer.
It is a basic principle underpinning whatever we and other faith communities try to do that the main need is not for money as such. What we hope to be able to offer is support, links and practical assistance. The next stage, which it is hoped will soon be realised, is the establishing of the best strategy and logistics for collecting appropriate items (books, paper, chalk, crayons, posters, pictures, and suchlike seem likely candidates) and getting them sent abroad. It is hoped that Claire’s links with the Army will be of practical help in the process of sending goods abroad and getting them safely to their destination and avoiding the dangers of corruption, misappropriation and stultifying bureaucracy to which relief efforts are all too often prone. And of course correspondence and the exchange, probably by email, of news and views with those on the ground in Waterloo will, we are assured, be warmly welcomed and will cost nothing but time and care.
The general context of our efforts is, of course, the headline-grabbing scheme to twin our Waterloo in some way with our Sierra Leonian namesake, a scheme which has caught the local imagination and met with the approval of two of the political parties. This proposal, however, will not in itself unlock funds or relieve poverty and hardship: the strong hope is that we will be able to find a way, under the ‘twinning umbrella’ to establish links with a school and, we hope with a church and congregation and offer them support and fellowship that is both moral and practical. If we can do this without lessening our ongoing support for Medic Malawi and St Faith’s Kindergarten, which must surely be our aim, we may be able to do something else of real value and further fulfil our mission to God’s world and ours. There is a real chance that by doing so we can make a real difference. I intend to contact Mrs Kargbo offering our support and asking her to make contact with the local priest and church, and see what comes of this. More news soon, including it is very much hoped, practical details of collection and transmission: watch this space.
Chris Price: 8.12.2004
Our efforts to establish links with Waterloo and secure methods of transportation for sending supplies to the school there are bearing fruit.
An immediate opportunity to get stuff out to Sierra Leone and thus getting our support project off the ground has arisen in the last week. Wyn Griffiths, M.P, is going out there in two weeks’ time and will take a 'pilot' consignment of goods to the school for us. He is travelling from Freetown up-country, passing Waterloo, and will drop off what we have collected, together with a request for information and a more specific ‘shopping list’ of the school’s requirements, which he will hope to collect on his way back a few days later and get it back to us.
We have decided that an immediate target is to stock a classroom with badly-needed essentials. These include exercise books, notepads, pens, pencils, crayons, chalk, rulers and the like, also adhesives (blue-tack etc), display materials, wall posters and so on. Also useful will be simple First Aid supplies (children’s Disprin, bandages, ointments, plasters and the like).
The visiting M.P. will do his best to ensure that a secure route is found to ‘our’ secondary school and also explore possible contacts with Waterloo's primary school and the local Anglican Church, and find out how best communication can be established and future deliveries made. A possible avenue being explored by Claire Curtis-Thomas is via the Sierra Leone High Commissioner in London, who makes regular trips back home and might well be willing to take supplies in the future. Sadly, in view of the widespread corruption and inadequate infrastructure in Sierra Leone, we have to be cautious about what and how we send supplies: the links being used and proposed seem to offer the best chance of getting practical help safely to where it is so greatly needed.
Following an appeal at St Faith's last week, we have already
a goodly supply of material, and several most generous donations.
offers of help and funding are of course more than welcome - the first
consignment has to be relatively small, but we are looking forward to
up stocks and very hopeful that, as secure routes are established and
received, we shall be able to offer real practical help in the months
years ahead - and have the satistfaction of seeing it get there safely.
A further impression of
life is like in the classrooms, streets, beaches and shanty-towns of
Leone in general and Waterloo in particular can be gained from a
further selection of the photographs Claire Curtis-Thomas took on her
Chris Price: 29.1.2005
On the Move
Events are moving quickly now, and there are three items of news to report...
The Classroom Appeal
We have been delighted with the enthusiastic and generous response to the Classroom Appeal. As a result of a whole range of donations of materials, four full boxes from the people of Saint Faith's have been delivered for onward transmission to Wyn Griffiths, who will be leaving for Sierra Leone in the very near future. The contents include exercise books, notepads, pens, pencils, crayons, rulers, sharpeners, rubbers, tape, fixing materials, rulers, registers, first aid equipment and lots more. In addition we have received several significant cash donations, which will be used to buy materials for future consignments and, possibly, towards shipping costs of later shipments. The Classroom Appeal remains open, and future offerings will be stored for later deliveries.
A Message from the School
Mrs Kargbo (see the third paragraph of 'School Report' above) has been in touch with us. She expresses the grateful thanks of her school for our contact and the help we are hoping to provide. She confirms that the rebel incursions of 1999 more or less wiped out the school's infrastructure and resources, leaving it in need of almost everything imaginable, from classrooms, laboratories and generators, a school bus and a library, to a whole range of teaching and learning materials. They look forward to hearing more about St Faith's and to establishing communications with interested individuals - something we will be looking into before too long. We in our turn look forward to feedback from Mr Griffith's visit and to whatever we can do in the months and years ahead.
Looking to the Future
It is increasingly clear that safe and reliable communications between the U.K. and Sierra Leone are an absolute priority. Next month a small group of people from Waterloo and Crosby will be visiting Waterloo, Sierra Leone to see what can be done to set up the 'Waterloo Connection' and establish civic links between our communities; on their return they will aim to coordinate the whole enterprise in the future. And Claire Curtis-Thomas has been developiong links with the Sierra Leone High Commissioner in London. The real hope is that, using his good offices and the secure distribution links already existing for the distribution of aid from the various charity organisations working there, a long-term route for future shipments can be established. There are other local schools and churches in our area who are now coming on board the project, and there is much good will from the local community and its councillors. It might well be that, before too long, links with other schools and churches in Waterloo can be set up and, God willing, a source found for acquiring and sending abroad some of the many larger items and materials which the devastated communities so clearly need. Meanwhile, our 'pilot packages' will soon be on their way to Africa as an earnest of our good intentions and a first gesture of goodwill from Waterloo... to Waterloo.
Chris Price: 5.2.2005
In the Paper and in Transit
This report in the 'Crosby Herald'of February
2005, gives news of progress with the Classroom Appeal and the moves to
between the two Waterloos.
PARISHIONERS' TOP CLASS HELP
Attempts to link Waterloo with its namesake in Sierra Leone have been boosted by generous parishioners at St Faith's Church.
Members of the congregation have collected school supplies such as exercise books and pencils to fly to pupils in the civil war-ravaged country.
In December the 'Herald' revealed that MP Claire Curtis-Thomas was hoping to twin the two Waterloo communities after visiting Sierra Leone and seeing the effects of war on its people.
St Faith's responded and is sending four boxes of equipment with Welsh MP Wyn Griffiths when he visits the African country in the next few days.
Chris Price, a member of the church's
group, said: 'We have been delighted with the enthusiastic and generous
response to the classroom appeal.
The church is using this first delivery to test how to get aid to the 700-pupil Rural Training and Commercial Institute, in a country rife with corruption and insecurity.
St Faith's plans to build a lasting relationship withg the pupils and the local Angliocan church.
Mrs Curtis-Thomas said: 'The response from St Faith's was immediate, generous and practical. Everythiung they have donated will be of immense help to the teachers in a secondary school who currently have nothing to help them teach.'
Getting Ready to Go!
After one or two temporary setbacks, a small group from Waterloo and Crosby are now making intensive preparations to fly out to Sierra Leone.
Due to health problems, M.P. Wyn Griffiths was unable to make his planned visit earlier this year (see details in the articles above): he and the preliminary consignment of school supplies have thus so far remained in this country. As a result, the planned 'follow-up' group visit has now become the 'spearhead' - and they are going out on Monday 30th May for a visit of just under a week.
Claire Curtis-Thomas will be accompanied by Kathy Zimak from Saint Faith's, David Moorhead from Sacred Heart School and Terry McLoughlin,a parishioner of St Joseph's Church. Their brief is to make as many contacts as possible with people and establishments out there, to assess the situation 'on the ground' in Waterloo and thus to lay the foundations for the long-term pairing of the two Waterloo communities.
Naturally, a visit to the Rural Training and Commercial Institute will be a top priority, especially for Claire, whose visit there prompted the links with St Faith's, and for Kathy. They will be delivering the boxes of supplies provided and funded by our congregation. On their return, we will have a clearer picture of the situation, and of how best we can target the efforts of Waterloo in general, and St Faith's in particular, to provide long-term help and support.
Watch this space!
Chris Price: May 23rd, 2005
Introducing Kathy Zimak
I feel very honoured to have been asked by St Faith's Church to represent them as one of the members of the group that will visit Waterloo, near Freetown next week. Readers will perhaps wonder what my credentials are for accepting this weighty but exciting task.
My interest in Africa has been longstanding, ever since spending a year in Uganda as a VSO teacher in 1966 -7. I have friends in Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania. My most recent visit was in 2001 during our school holidays where I was a Global Teacher volunteer in the Eastern Cape of South Africa for five weeks. There I helped the Head Teacher of a very small and desperately poor school in one of the former homelands. I consequently arranged a link between his school and ours in Liverpool and the next year there was a teacher exchange, the Head teacher visiting Liverpool for five weeks and one of our own staff visiting the Eastern Cape the following summer. I feel therefore that I have some relevant experience to bear in setting up the links between Waterloo Crosby and Waterloo Sierra Leone.
My experience in South Africa is relevant in another respect. I was impressed by the way the people of South Africa have so quickly put behind them the memories of the brutal oppression of apartheid and humbled by the forgiveness that Africans seem able to offer so genuinely. I am sure that I shall find exactly the same when I speak to people in Sierra Leone who are also recovering from a period of violence and cruelty but ready to face a difficult future with fortitude in a true spirit of reconciliation.
I look forward very much to reporting on this immensely exciting visit that promises to be so fruitful for both our communities.
Kathleen Zimak: May 26th, 2005
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