While the main focus of FTI’s reconciliation and healing work must be within Sierra Leone itself, there are many Sierra Leoneans abroad who were also affected by the conflict and who still keep in close touch with family and friends at home, visiting when they can. It is important that they are able to participate as much as possible in the fambul tok .
In my capacity as a board member who is based in the UK, I’ve begun to make contact with Sierra Leoneans in London to raise awareness of what we are doing and to build understanding and support for it. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive!
At the beginning of November, John Caulker passed through London on his way back to Sierra Leone after a conference in Sweden. I took advantage of his visit to arrange some meetings for him. Amongst others, he met with people from the Sierra Leone Inter-Diocesan Association (SLIDA-UK), St. Edward’s Alumni Association UK and the North Brixton Islamic Cultural Centre. SLIDA-UK made a very generous donation to FTI, for which we are extremely grateful, and I look forward to keeping them updated on how their contribution makes a difference.
I had no idea until recently just how vibrant school alumni communities are amongst Sierra Leoneans in London – when I spoke after St. Edward’s Thanksgiving Mass in October, the audience was at least 200 strong – and I hope to get in touch with some of the others over the coming months. John Caulker spoke at a meeting of at least 50 people at the North Brixton Cultural Centre, more than half of them women, after evening prayers. There were many good questions, and a we came away with a real sense that people felt that the time was ripe for the work that we are doing.
There are other networks to plug into in London. For example, John had a very good meeting while here with Marina Cantacuzino, director of the Forgiveness Project. We also met with the Sigrid Rausing Trust, a foundation with a long track record of supporting human rights work. These kinds of relationships can only strengthen our efforts over the coming years.
There is much more to do to establish FTI’s profile amongst Sierra Leoneans in London. It will take time but the rewards for us – and hopefully for them, too – will be great. If you are a Sierra Leonean in the UK and want to learn more about Fambul Tok, contact us.