ARLINGTON - The University of Texas at Arlington is playing a
major role in a project that is helping restore hope to tens of thousands of
people in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
This month, UT Arlington helped open the Hope Center near Freetown, the
capital city of Sierra Leone.
“The Hope Center is an 11,000-square foot building
that contains a conference room, male and female dormitories, classrooms,
computer lab, dental and medical clinic and a guest house,” said Alusine
Jalloh, director of The Africa Program at UT Arlington. The Center will serve families
devastated by Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war that ended in 2002. “Orphans and street kids are the
clinic’s priority. The dormitories are truly for students from Texas and other
volunteers,” Jalloh said.
Volunteers are from Project Restore Hope Sierra
Leone (PRHSL), which is a pioneering venture that brings together academic
institutions and faith-based groups in promoting humanitarianism and education.
The partners include UT Arlington’s Africa Program, College of Nursing, School
of Social Work and College of Engineering. Jalloh coordinated faculty members to donate their time and expertise. Engineering professors designed the center's electrical systems. Social Work professors contributed to the educational curriculum. Nursing professors consulted with medical personnel and Maverick Athletics donated sports equipment.
Other partners include the Global
Connection Partnership Network (GCPN), First Baptist Church of Arlington,
Buckner International, Louis Herrington School of Nursing at Baylor University,
The Evangelical College of Theology in Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College in
Sierra Leone, University of Sierra Leone, J. R. Ministries, Sierra Leone
Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children’s Services, Christian Faith
Rescue Mission and Rush Creek Consulting, Inc.
In addition to health care, young men and women in
Sierra Leone will get the opportunity to learn skills that can lead to gainful
employment in their country. “Men will learn things like electrical and
plumbing skills. Women will learn about sewing, crafts and catering,” said
Jalloh, who hopes to organize a study abroad trip to Sierra Leone next year for
UT Arlington students.
Anonymous donors at First Baptist Church of
Arlington, which has partnered with UT Arlington on other major projects,
provided funding for the $1.2 million dollar Hope Center. “We had strong
connections to Sierra Leone. We had members who felt compelled to go there and
help after the country’s civil war and we felt that we were supposed to partner
with UT Arlington,” said Cindy Wiles, executive director of GCPN and wife of
First Baptist Church of Arlington pastor, Dr. Dennis Wiles.
Recently, the project received a one-year grant of
$205,000 from an anonymous donor in Texas. Learn more about the PRHSL at www.restorehopeproject.com.
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in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu
to learn more.
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