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Shine On Sierra Leone - Charity in the Modern World
It't about change not charity
Since its inception in 2006 Tiffany Persons’ Shine on Sierra Leone venture has seen astonishing growth and influence within the immediate community and beyond. The ambitions of this charity can be found in its mission statement: Hope. Courage. Action. It’s about change, not charity.
Initially travelling through Sierra Leone to film a documentary following the journey of a diamond from the earth to the consumer and the lives impacted along the way, Tiffany says she was inspired when passing a school with hundreds of children gathering in a three-room structure with no roof enduring torrential rain.
Understanding the power of education and the strength of inner development, classrooms were built, teachers were trained, and books and supplies were provided.
From there, Muddy Lotus Primary School was built serving nearly 500 students. However, Tiffany saw there was a greater need beyond education:
“I saw us contributing to a culture where the poor awaited their saviours. I knew that I couldn’t go on in that same way. I knew it couldn’t be this simple relationship of they would ask, I would give, end of story"
Shine on Sierra Leone
Time for a different approach
Charity had been this way for years so it was difficult to know what to do differently. While other charities concentrate on what was needed materially like wells, clean water, housing and so on. However, Tiffany saw a missing ingredient needed to create a thriving community. This ingredient is how a person thinks and feels, whether they feel worthy or not. People who don’t have this ‘magic’ ingredient re-appropriate themselves back into poverty as the other ingredients start to no longer matter. To this end, Shine On Sierra Leone promotes inner development with an understanding that it will drive outer development.
A list of affirmations created with the students underpin the positive outlook of Muddy Lotus and its community. These include acknowledging potential, seeing opportunities, being thankful and treating each other well.
Tamba Fillie, a teacher at Muddy Lotus describes his idea of the school’s ambition and potential influence “Every time you come to school you think of good dream, every day you come to school your aim goes high, I want some to be lawyers, to be presidents, to be ministers, to be doctors, to be engineers. To be in fact more than us. Yes that is our dream.”