By Amadu Gbassay Kabia (YES 2010-2011, Sierra Leone, placed by AYUSA in Harper, TX)
On December 22, 2023, I dedicated my time to volunteer with the Auradicals Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy in an afforestation initiative at Malempeh Village in the Tonkolili District, Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The Auradicals Foundation, an independent nonprofit dedicated to human rights, social justice, and socio-economic development, initiated the project in collaboration with the United Bank of Africa (UBA) Sierra Leone. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, afforestation is “the act or process of establishing a forest, especially on land not previously forested.” The objective of this project was to plant 5,000 trees in the Western Area to address environmental concerns and provide socio-economic benefits to targeted communities.
The inaugural phase of the project, held three days before Christmas, brought together 300 participants from the Auradicals Foundation and UBA Sierra Leone Foundation. Collaborating with local members of Malempeh village, we planted over 3,000 economic trees, including mango, orange, cashew, and avocado. Each tree was meticulously documented, photographed, and geotagged for comprehensive monitoring. This collective effort sought to safeguard the environment and foster socio-economic benefits.
As a YES alumnus and a dedicated member of the Auradicals Foundation, I relish the opportunity to give back to communities in Sierra Leone and beyond. This commitment led me to volunteer immediately when the Foundation sought participants on our platform for the project implementation. I actively planted and geotagged 20 trees, contributing to the entire process throughout the day.
After conducting several feasibility studies, Malempeh Village was chosen for the initial phase of the project due to the persistent deforestation that has occurred in the area over the past few years. The Auradicals Foundation, as the implementing body of the project, deemed it essential to reforest the area with economic trees. This not only aims to restore the environment but also supports the well-being of the local beneficiaries by providing access to fresh fruits. The deliberate choice of planting only economic trees serves the dual purpose of discouraging the local population from engaging in tree cutting for timber logging and charcoal burning, practices that have been prevalent in the country for years.
Leaders from the Auradicals Foundation and UBA officially handed over the project to Malempeh Village, ensuring community ownership. Reflecting on the experiences gained during this event and considering the potential benefits of similar endeavors, I feel motivated to collaborate with fellow Sierra Leone YES Alumni in the future. The goal is to expand similar initiatives to other regions in the country by partnering with local agencies and sponsors. This collaborative effort will enhance the positive impact of reforestation projects and promote environmental sustainability on a broader scale.
Read more about Amadu’s inspiring community projects here: