Sunday, October 9, 2011

Connecting human rights acvists in U.S. & Sierra Leone

Two groups of students have forged a new relationship: human rights students in Sierra Leone and in Mississippi. It holds promise for new understanding between them. The Sierra Leone students formed a group called Project 1991 at the end of our nine-month stay in Sierra Leone 08-09. Some of my human rights students there had very interesting life stories and wanted to share them beyond just in class. Betty collected them and put them on a web page at of the University of Southern Mississippi. They are survivors of a decade-long civil war that began in "1991."

When they were in my classes in Freetown, SL, they carried out my community service assignement: teaching about human rights for ten hours in local schools. They did a very good job. So they wanted to continue that, and they have, some of them are still doing it. Hence Project 1991 is an on-going program of public education about human rights by a group of these students.

Betty and I met with them in the summer of 2011, two years after we had lived in SL. They had been teaching human rights in public schools, at sports events, and want to expand their work. While we were visiting last summer they elected officers and planned some future events.

Meanwhile at the U of Southern Mississippi, where Betty and I teach, students in the USM Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties decided to make fund raising for Project 1991 one of their projects for fall 2011. The campus group Students for Human Rights is taking the lead in this. And two of the Sierra Leone students are on the USM Center for Human Rights facebook page by that name. A dialogue is beginning.

I am proud of my former SL students for carrying on this important work and with minimal funding over the past two years. If anyone wants to contact them directly, they can find the names of Abdul Lebbie or Alpha Barrie on the facebook page above. Ideally they would like to share stories and experiences with other suriviors of civil wars and other human rights challenges. If you want to reach them, they have their own facebook page at "Project 1991 Promoting Human Rights"


Nelson Souzza said...

Hello! My first visit, will visit you again. Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed your posts. Congrats for your work. If you wish to follow back that would be great I'm at
Thanks for sharing!

marco and judy said...

Hello Robert,

We followed your blog with great interest!
We will go in Makeni on January 2012, we are really excited to have this experience.
We would like to ask you some information about the vaccines that we have to do.
We will have vaccinations for Yellow fever and typhoid, but some friends told us about meningitis and cholera.
Which kind of vaccinations did you have before going in Sierra Leone?
And which kind of Malaria prevention did you used? We will be there for (at least) one year,
Did you take anti-malaria medicines for a so long period?
Thank again for your Blog and for the beautiful pictures and experiences that you shared with us.
Best regards
Marco, Judy & Antonio

MARKUS said...

Hi Bob and Betty (but mainly Betty)
We are trying to track you down, as we are endeavouring to found a non profit making foundation in SL. Its based upon raising awareness in and participation of sport in country and is headed by 2 Sierra Leoneans who live here in the UK.
Please can you contact me on
Many Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you.
PS love your blog, its inspiring. Thanks