Friday, May 30, 2014

Tegloma Benefactor Talks to the Segbwema Blog

Mr. David Kolima Williams
Last weekend in the sprawling Texan metropolis of Houston, members of the Tegloma Federation International witnessed a rare case of major philanthropy when Mr. David Kolima Williams and his wife Mrs. Fatmatta Kamara Williams wrote a check for $10,000.00 (ten thousand dollars!) towards the construction of the proposed $300,000.00 multipurpose center in the southern regional capital city Bo. The Williams family donation was in reaction to an appeal from Tegloma Federation Board Chairman for members to start donating to a venture that was to finally move major Tegloma operations from USA to our home country Sierra Leone.

Mrs. Fatmatta Kamara Williams
The Segbwema blog decided to contact Mr.Williams and explore his motivation for making such a large award to the organization. Many other members contributed ranging from $1500,00.00 to $39.00, but the Williams family donation was far and away the most generous. Mr. Williams took time of his busy schedule to answer some questions posed to him by Sheku Sheriff (Segbwema Blogger)

Segbwema Blogger: David Kolima William, let me  first start by thanking you for your immense generosity.Many members have been generous to Tegloma in the past. People like Dr. Lansana Nyallay at one time used their own money to practically make this organization what it is today. But your is far away the greatest single donation ever made by a Sierra Leone national to Tegloma.
Tegloma Federation Executive

David Kolima Williams: I will begin by thanking “The Segbwema Blog” chief Editor and publisher, Mr. Sheku Sheriff for the huge undertaking of creating this communication medium that is available to everyone to share our views, knowledge and experience with the millions that read and react daily. When a member of Tegloma and specifically a southeasterner tell our story, we are in the best position to define who we are, our beliefs and the principles we stand for. Mr. Sheriff, do not relent, drag-in more people, mentor as many as possible, even those who may disagree with you.

Segbwema Blogger: Thanks for the sentiments, it is very important that we start telling our own stories. Mr. Williams the generosity displayed by you and your wife last Saturday shows your love for both the organization and your country. In Tegloma, we sometimes do not adequately appreciate good deeds and I believe the world should know about the generosity of your family 
Mr. and Mrs Williams

David Kolima Williams: Mr. Sheriff, the last word in your sentence is FAMILY. To the Tegloma family; I wish to say thank you, specifically the Dallas chapter that inspired me to render my input to the Bo land project. My wife Fatmatta Kamara Williams and I joined Tegloma immediately after the death of my younger brother Amos Williams in 2002. Late Amos was one of the first members to join Tegloma and I only came to know these facts through the sitting president Mr. Henry Gegbe who visited our home the very next day to announce the $2,500 donated towards Amos' funeral by the Dallas Tegloma chapter. By then the chapter had not adopted insurance for all members.

When an accident in 2007 left me paralyzed, my Tegloma family was by my side along with my church family. For 90 consecutive days, members visited me. My very good friend Dr. Joseph Moi Tejan an orthopedic surgeon literally intervened to force the hospital and Doctors to be more proactive  toward my surgery. The sitting president of Dallas Tegloma, Mr. Reuben Kinie Ndomahina, Vice President, Mrs. Josephine Lombeh Ladipo visited me in the hospital every single day without failure. Dallas members physically held vigil for days on ending outside my room door in the hospital not knowing if I will survive.
People, my question is; can I repay Tegloma enough, I don’t think so.

Segbwema Blogger: These are the type of stories you don't usually hear, as those who are not too familiar with Tegloma do not say many good things. This is refreshing. I also have my own experiences, but this is about you, so continue.
Tegloma Secretary General Amos Allie
Looking on

David Kolima Williams: My love and appreciation for this organization grew more over each passing year. But more importantly, the pride this organization has brought to the surface for all to see about the kind of people we are; is powerful. We are caring people, loyal and God fearing people. Our faith in Tegloma has kept us together for now 40 years, no other organization in the Diaspora is like us. It is a testament to the ideal we manifest when we meet and lament over the suffering of our people in Moyamba, Bo, Kenema, Tiama, and all over Sierra Leone. The need to foster our culture and pass it onto our children concerns us a great deal.

My mother and father, Late Rev. Benjamin Kolima Williams and Deborah Baby-Love Davis, a United Methodist pastor for 47 years serving in all of Moyamba district made me believe in the power of loving your fellow man. And one way to demonstrate that love is through service to the needs of others. Where I can, I must help, no matter how little. I must not wait till I have loaded my mouth full of food; then, render others some. But rather, give when you do not have enough, I saw my parents do that for the most part of my life. 
You might not be completely full, but will have joy and peace all around you, says my mother, always.

The Bo land project, when developed into a full operating center will be our pride and joy. It will make us stand tall. It will bring us more blessing as our children in Diaspora will pick up the mantle and continue in our footsteps. This is a tall order, I have no illusions , it is a major challenge but one we are capable of successfully handling.
Members Thanking the Williams Family

Segbwema Blogger: Well some disillusioned members usually ask what has Tegloma ever done for me. They should listen to you!

David Kolima Williams: When, you are in doughty and have the temptation to ask, what has Tegloma done for me?  Please, take a wide view of the landscape and see your position in this organization. You are on a stage coveted by many, offered the opportunity to make a difference. We the people from southeast Sierra Leone have succeeded in building this stage. Few people in Sierra Leone have been this successful. We are in the position to be the unifying force in our mother land. Your knowledge and skills are welcomed in Tegloma. Even when we argue and debate, we do it respectfully providing a venue whereby you come to know your strengths and weaknesses and learn and grow from them. I pray and hope our members will see the need to speed up our development.
Segbwema Moi: Can you advise on how we can continue to raise money for this enormous project?
Board Chairman and Houston President
With the Williams Family

David Kolima Williams: We can raise more money for our project by reaching out to non Sierra Leoneans, many of whom have visited our country or heard of our plight. Let us allow them to buy into our dream. We must contemplate naming buildings and specific work shop rooms after Americans, Europeans and other African nationals willing to be our partners.

I pray for someone to increase the challenge by giving twice the amount my wife and I donated. Where possible, ask Tegloma to raise a huge amount, say $80,000, then matched by a donation and name a recreation park after him or her or family. Are chapters willing to step to the plate and make donations say $20,000 to be paid over three year period that will give them naming rights to specific conference rooms.
Let us device concrete plans and appeal to corporations to make donations to our project including those that already operate in Sierra Leone
Segbwema Blogger

Encourage work teams including our children to labor on the Bo land site. Our physical presence must be felt amongst our people, not only our money sent from afar. I believe in our strength. Our determination will take us there, let us make it soon.
Long Live Tegloma
David Kolima Williams
Amos Allie Explaining Bo Land Project

Segwema Blogger: Thank Mr Williams and your wife. May there be many more like you.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Institutionalized Theft at QE II Quay in Freetown Sierra Leone Reaches a New Low

Peagie Woobay Foday
In the last four weeks thieves at the Sierra Leone's QE II Harbor, popularly known in the capital Freetown as "Water Quay" have raided items belonging to the Peagie Woobay Scholarship Fund (PWSF), A  philanthropic organization founded by a Sierra Leone national in Sweden Peagie Woobay Foday. Many young people in the Sierra Leone diaspora are outraged as she has involved many of them in her fundraising and promotional activities.

I first met Peagie Woobay in Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone. She was a young vivacious ball of energy who made you proud to have a girl child. She was very small but has always acted big. She reminds me of another young woman Halima Tambi who was also very small and energetic. They were in college at the same time. 

When the Sierra Leone civil war led to the great migration of young Sierra Leoneans into the refugee diaspora, Peagie Woobay was among the thousands of Sierra Leoneans who were lucky to make it out of the country and find a peaceful home in Europe.

Over the past few years Peagie Woobay now Foday by marriage, became increasingly concerned with the plight of young girls in Sierra Leone. A country with no laws protecting young girls, grown men routinely impregnate school girls. Poor families turn blind eyes to relationships between their daughters and men old enough to be their grandfathers. The high degree of poverty and gender discrimination in employment opportunities also means that poor families prefer to invest in the education of their male children at the expense of the females. Girls are often taken out of school after primary education and those who go to secondary schoosl have to survive the lusty moves of teachers, civil servants and men with the mentality of billy goats, in a society where people turn blind eyes towards pedophilia and men see the conquest of young girls as proof of their vitality.

Even university students are not immune to these advances. When we were in Fourah Bay College, the girls dormitory at Lati Hyde Forster could be mistaken for another government facility, given the endless parade of civil servants and ministers in and out of the facility.
Fund Board Member Khadi Mansaray

Peagie Woobay, a graduate of Fourah Bay College who herself became pregnant at the age of 15 but persevered to attain university and graduate level education decided to do something to help reverse this negative trend. She launched a nonprofit, (NGO) the Peagie Woobay Scholarship Woobay Scholarship fund, the purpose of which is "to raise funds to help educate a lot of girls in her native land Sierra Leone, West Africa thus empowering them for their future and making them into powerful drivers of progress."

The Peagie Woobay Scholarship fund has board members in Sweden, UK and the USA. The foundation operates in all the main regions of Sierra Leone and undertakes the following:

  • Pay tuition and fees for secondary school girls, helping them with uniforms, books and the motivation to stay in school.
  • Establish and operate day care centers in Moyamba and Kabala with plans to increase the number of day care around the country.
  • Provide free food for children in the day care centers.
  • Provide education to girls on the risks of teenage pregnancy and the drawbacks of early marriage.
  • Help girls get access to preventive services to enable them stay in school.
  • Establish resource centers for girls to train them in vocational skills such as sewing, IT and computer skills, basket mankind and weaving and provides microcredit to teenage mums to give them a fighting chance in life.
Financial Advisor Foday

Peagie who is an extrovert by nature and very driven has manged to get support for her cause among the Sierra Leone community spread across the globe and skillfully used social media to propagate her efforts and recognize those involved with the scholarship fund.
US Rep Charles Hubbard

Unfortunately, Peagie Woobay has also attracted negative attention- that of established criminal syndicates that are now operating at will at the Sierra Leone Ports Authority. (SLPA) 

The Sierra Leone Ports Authority criminal syndicates were notorious in the 80 and early 90s. However their activities were severely curtailed in the military era and under the regime of President Ahmed Tejan Kabba as marine traffic to Sierra Leone at the time declined precipitously. However, as marine traffic has increased with peace and Sierra Leone has once again descended into a new era of institutionalized corruption, the "Water Quay" criminal syndicates are back with a vengeance, Many members of these criminal syndicates are ports authority employees who collude with ports security to break into shipping containers and transport items out of the harbor under the cover of darkness.

The Peagie Woobay Scholarship Fund which usually lists the supplies they are shipping to Sierra Leone has now become a prime target for the criminal syndicates at the harbor many of who trace the scholarship fund shipments and help themselves as soon as they are at the harbor, even though they are well aware that the items are meant to help poor disadvantaged girls in the country. A few weeks ago thieves carted away some items shipped to support the Scholarship Fund activities in Sierra Leone
Truck Before Shipping to Freetown

This week however, the bold and brazen theft of the entire cab of a Nissan King Cab truck vandalized at the quay has outraged well meaning Sierra Leoneans all over the world. The Nisasan truck when shipped to Freetownby the PWSF  had a cab at the back and was completely intact. When the cab was cleared yesterday at the quay, the cab at the back had miraculously disappeared, the metal light and fog lights at the front were gone and the truck was almost laid bare. Peagie expressed immense outrage, but has vowed that blue collar thieves employed at the quay are not going to stop her work in the country. However many other Sierra Leoneans engaged with the Scholarship fund are outraged at this senseless and selfish act. Many are outraged that Sierra Leone has once again descended to this level of criminality which should have ended with the war.
Truck After Clearing with Cab Gone

The Segbwema Blog will continue to monitor the investigation, as authorities at the Quay have been alerted to this criminal outrage. Some Sierra Leoneans have already started to call for an overhaul of the ports authority. However, given he fact that the current President appoints only his cronies to top positions at crucial facilities in the country, not much is expected to come out of this insane atrocity.

Sierra Leone was just a few years ago seen as a beacon of democracy and reform in West Africa, but sycophancy, corruption, greed and nepotism have once again seen the country start to slide into the ranks of chaotic nations even though the mines are now working at full capacity and new mineral concerns are springing up across the country. 

Tegloma's Spectacular Houston Convention

Fedration Chairman Mustapha Sheriff
This past weekend, members of Tegloma Federation International Inc, a 39 year old Sierra Leone sociocultural and philanthropic nonprofit, with headquarters in USA and 24 chapters in North America, Europe and Africa met in the Texan metropolis of Houston for their annual Mini-Convention. Tegloma is the largest Sierra Leone sociocultural organization in the diaspora.

Convention Host and Houston President
Josephine Miller

From a group concerned mainly with immigration, bereavement, legal and other social issues, Tegloma has over the years evolved as times have changed. In the late 90s it supported the government of Sierra Leone under President Ahmed Kabba for the restoration of democracy in the country and also sent a very high level delegation to the inauguration of President Ernest Bai Koroma, headed by the Tegloma Federation Chairman at the time, Aloysius Bandami Foh, brother of current Sierra Leone Ambassador to China Victor Foh.
Federation Sec. Gen. Amos Allie

Tegloma is now concerned mainly with with charitable and cultural activities and is registered as a 501 C 3 philanthropic organization in USA. Over the past four years the organization shipped medical supplies to hospitals in Sierra Leone and awarded scholarships to over 40 deserving students all over the country.

This weekend Houston Texas played host to the organization and the Mayor of Houston Texas declared Saturday 24th May 2014 as "Tegloma Day," in recognition of the services rendered by members of the organization in the multicultural community.
Convention Coordinator and Houston
Sec. Gen Juliet Laverley

Delegates to last week's mini-convention started arriving in Houston on Thursday as the election for the board of directors was scheduled for Friday. By Friday morning, many of the board members were already in Houston.

On Friday there was a board meeting to set an agenda for Tegloma for the next few years. The Tegloma Federation Board of Directors, comprising two representatives from each chapter, are responsible for oversight of the organization, drafting policies and providing strategic direction. The Tegloma federation administration is responsible for the day to day management of the organization.
Reelected Board Executives Abu Bhonapha,
Alice Hawa Kallon and Henry Gegbe

In the election following the meeting,Tegloma Board Chairman Abu Bhonapha, Vice Chair Alice "Akpaji" Kallon, and Treasurer Henry Gegbe were reelected for their second and final two year term. Chairman Abu Bhonapha expressed gratitude to the board members for the vote of confidence in his team and promised to support the administration in their quest to make Tegloma a more formidable organization. Board Secretary General Sheku Sheriff did not run again and his position will be filled by the board executive.

Saturday was convention day and the head of the Tegloma Administration, Chairman Mustapha Sheriff laid out his plans for the development of a 300 thousand dollars multipurpose hall on the Tegloma land in the city of Bo in Sierra Leone. Administration Secretary General Amos Allie made a brilliant PowerPoint presentation on the status of project and the developments that are already underway on the five acres Bo Tegloma Land.
Houston Board Member Dr. Jibao Musa

The Board Chairman Abu Bhonapha made a passionate appeal to members to support the Bo Land project. His wife, Mrs. Angela Bhonapha opened the flood gate of pledges and cash donations by making a a pledge of $500.00 to the project and soon members were making pledges and cash donations, raising more than 27000 dollars in less than an hour!

Tegloma Grand Benefactors
Mr. and Mrs Kolima Williams.
The highlight of the pledges and donations occurred when Mrs and Mrs Kolima Williams of Dallas Tegloma chapter wrote a check for ten thousand dollars towards the Bo Land project! This degree of philanthropic generosity is almost alien in the Sierra Leone community. Sierra Leoneans are brought up to rely on government and others for almost everything. Slowly however, many people are gradually waking up to the fact that there is equal pleasure to be derived from giving as it is in receiving. Many Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora are now starting charitable enterprises and projects in their local communities, to either complement the work of government or provide vital services that are nonexistent.
Mrs. Angela Bhonapha

Convention Keynote Speaker
Ernest Pekanyande
Convention Keynote Speaker Ernest Pekanyande made a powerful presentation on leadership, spelling out the type of leadership criteria that will be necessary for taking Tegloma to the next level. He is one of the original founding members of Tegloma, though he is full of vitality and youthful exuberance.

The whole convention was infused with cultural performances by the Sierra Leonean children of Houston, traditional Sierra Leonean masquerades and a celebration of Sierra Leone food, traditions and music. In the bright Texan sun, the African attires were colorful and vibrant, the women were good looking and graceful and the men were confident and full of vitality.

The African cultural performances by the Sierra Leone children of Houston was remarkable for the fact that almost all the children were born in the USA, a testament to Tegloma's mission of preserving the culture of Sierra Leone, a country with a great and diverse cultural heritage.
Convention Delegates

The Tegloma Board of Directors presented a certificate of exemplary service to Sheku Sheriff for his outstanding work for the board and the past administration also gave an Eagle award of meritorious service to Sheku Sheriff and Alice Kallon for their services to the federation.

The convention was followed by the Mini-Convention ball at night. Many members of the Sierra Leone and African community in Houston came to celebrate with Tegloma and know more about the organization. There was dancing and cultural displays at the elegant ball.

On Sunday, there was a picnic at the Baymont Park in Houston to which members of the Sierra Leone community in Houston turned up in force.
Outgoing Board Secretary General
Sheku Sheriff

Mrs Magaret Tagoe, the President of Tegloma New York/New Jersey described the Houston Convention as the most elegant and classy Tegloma convention she has ever attended and gave the chapter an A+ rating for their effort. All the delegates agreed that the convention was one that will be hard to top, but members of the Tegloma Delaware Valley chapter who will host the main convention in August in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love have promised to make theirs even more memorable. It will have to be seen whether they will be able to deliver on their promise.
Ex-Houston Chief Kadie Kakai

Of course, an event of such magnitude could not have been successfully implemented without the effort of many people.

All the active members of Tegloma Houston put their shoulders to the wheel to make the delegates feel welcome and at home. The Tegloma Houston chief Josephine Miller, Ex-Chiefs Mrs. Kadie Kakai, Dr. Jibao Musa and Mrs. Watta Musa were on hand to ensure that the delegates wanted for nothing. Mrs. Kadie Kakai lodged many delegates at her house, telling them not to go to any hotel. Many other members did the same. Former Tegloma Minnesota chief Mr Abdul Songa and his wife Christina Songa took particular care of the Minnesota delegation.On a personal note I am grateful to my brothers Sualiho and Fodie Maliki Sheriff and their wives for the warm reception accorded to me.
Tegloma Kids Receiving Performance

The Tegloma organization was founded in USA in 1975 as a self help entity to promote the social, cultural, welfare and economic interests of Sierra Leoneans from the southeastern region of the country. This influential group of citizens were increasingly marginalized by their country's embassy under the regime of former president Siaka P.Stevens who viewed them as his political adversaries. In those days Sierra Leone embassy staff were not very welcoming to southeasterners. When an individual from the region was involved in a gruesome road accident in the mid 1970s and the embassy did not get involved, a small group of pioneers met in Washington DC and decided to form Tegloma, to assist each other in times of need.

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