Shelter For Africa
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Shelter for Africa
Shelter for Africa is a non-government not-for-profit organisation that carries out low-cost housing construction and develops commerce and trade through various support activities for the people of the Republic of Sierra Leone in West Africa.

The infamous Diamond War of the Nineties ravaged the country for over ten years. By the conclusion of the war, the Republic’s economy was left in ruins. Many people’s houses as well as public facilities were destroyed. A large part of the population had been displaced. During the fighting, refugees travelled in the hundreds of thousands to neighbouring countries like Guinea and Liberia to escape the fighting. Those that stayed behind were terrorised by the insurgent rebel movement. Many of them were tortured, maimed or killed.

For many years, even before the outbreak of the Diamond War, there had been an acute housing and accommodation shortage in Sierra Leone. Construction of dwellings was mainly dependent on imported materials such as corrugated iron sheets for roofing, cement, reinforcing steel and other imported materials. The cost of these construction materials made even simple housing beyond the reach of ordinary people. The crisis became even worse with the outbreak of the War, when houses were set ablaze and even temporary shelters burnt down. Hundred Thousands of people were made homeless and became refugees.

To help the people of Sierra Leone back to their feet, Shelter for Africa is running projects aimed at engaging people in income-generating activities to become independent of international charity. Its projects focus on the construction of housing and the development of commerce using affordable technologies that are appropriate to the people’s needs. The technologies draw on locally available resources instead of unaffordable imports.

In 1995 the co-founder of Shelter for Africa, Mr. Elijah Gegra, set up the first Training Centre in the Capital City, Freetown. The Centre provides people with essential skills for housing construction using “Intermediate Technology”, and emphasising the use of locally available resources. Fortunately the Training Centre survived the invasion of Freetown by the insurgent rebel movement in early 1998. Shelter for Africa was then founded later that year to lay the foundations for the expansion of the Training Centre. The educational programme subsequently branched out into the business and commerce fields. Men, women and the youth were now being provided basic skills to prepare them for engaging in trade, and setting up their own businesses.

Women and children were particularly vulnerable during the War. Many children as young as six were forced into combat as soldiers of the invading rebel forces. This left them highly traumatised and unable to deal with the world around them. Shelter for Africa therefore directs special effort into involving them in its projects to help them reintegrate into society.

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