SEED BACKGROUND INFORMATION
CITA International (d/b/a SEED) is a registered International Non Government Organization (NGO) in Sierra Leone doing business as SEED, Inc. a 501 (c)(3) Corporation in the United States.
It was a dream of Dorcas Kamanda in 1968 while she was a secondary school student at Harford School for Girls in Sierra Leone. The dream was to build a clinic in her Mother’s Village where she grew up. Now after forty years the dream is a reality in Kabala, Sierra Leone.
During the rebel war, Dorcas’ brother, Peacemaker, and sister Finah, provided health care to many at great danger to themselves. After the war they continued giving health care and provided pre-natal, maternity and post natal care using their family home as a clinic. In 2002 Dorcas returned to Sierra Leone and found the destruction and suffering of her village and the country as a whole. Infrastructure had been wiped out, and the survivors of the civil was faced each day without electricity, healthcare, education, employment, and other basic needs required for a minimal standardof living. Dorcas and her family decided it was time for her dream to come true.
SEED began as a first response to the people’s need for healthcare in the Koinadugu District, the largest and poorest district in Sierra Leone. By the end of the war, there was not a single functioning hospital in the district. The NarSarah Clinic (named after Dorcas’ Mother) began as a temporary part time clinic in 2004 with Peacemaker and Finah volunteering their time. The NarSarah Clinic officially opened in 2005 to meet the region’s healthcare needs. Since then, the Clinic under SEED has rapidly expanded to support other local initiatives in micro-finance, education, and agriculture, and continues to provide humanitarian relief aid to help those most in need.
NarSarah Clinic has moved from emergency care during the war to maternity care in the immediate post-war period, and to total health care, sustainable peace building, and community development at this period in the transition process. Today, SEED serves over 4,500 people each year, and the original NarSarah Clinic remains the core of the organization’s programs. The NarSarah Clinic is working to:
Reduce infant and maternal mortality
The community initiatives that SEED International supports are helping to transform the district from the place of suffering it was after the war to a place of hope, progress, and development. In the coming years, SEED hopes to connect with other communities in Sierra Leone to bring transformative action through local, grassroots efforts and vision.
Country of need
SEED International came to Sierra Leone in the wake of the decade-long civil war that ravaged the nation from 1991 to 2001. During the war, rebel forces criss-crossed through the country, abducting, amputating, and killing thousands of innocent civilians. Child soldiers were forced to fight on the front-lines, often while under the influence of cocaine or other drugs. Over that decade, half the population was displaced, 50,000 killed, 100,000 were maimed or mutilated, 200,000 babies born to victims of rape. Hospitals, clinics, home, schools, and whole villages were destroyed. Infrastructure was directly targeted, and much of the nation was left without the basic needs for human life.
Today, national statistics state that Sierra Leone
is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Sierra Leone is in West Africa and is the size of South Carolina with a population of 5 million. They received independence from England April, 1961. English is the official language with more than 15 tribal languages spoken. The rainfall is approximately 170 inches to 195 inches in a year (comes during a 4-5 month period). Rice is the main food with an abundance of fruit throughout the year. Sierra Leone is a beautiful country and it is filled with people that continue to strive to rebuild their lives so that they can give hope and dreams to their children.
The Koinadugu District, situated in the far northeastern corner of the country, was the vegetable garden and agricultural center of the country in the 1960/70’s. With the coming of the war, the district was left in ruins. Kabala, the headquarters of the district and the site of NarSarah Clinic and SEED’s regional office, faced recurring attacks and was held under rebel control for a portion of the war. Half-burnt remains of buildings still remind of all the work that must be done to reach even a minimal standard of living required for day to day survival.
Koinadugu faces all the obstacles of rural poverty in a developing country. Most villages have no healthcare beyond traditional medicine while the district has among the worst health indicators in the nation. Recent research conducted revealed HIV prevalence of 6% among the hundreds of patients tested. Health remains a huge concern in Koinadugu and in Sierra Leone as a whole.
The Koinadugu District is the poorest district in the entire country. The district also faces major challenges in education and gender equality, which are fundamental components of development. Many villages in the district lack even a single school; the district literacy rate stands at 21%. Women’s literacy rate is less than half that of men’s and gender issues merit special attention in light of harmful traditional customs and practices. Women’s empowerment has become a core aspect of the SEED’s work in the district.
Food security also remains a major problem, with agriculture largely limited to subsistence-level farming and lacking the necessary expertise that could improve cultivation practices. The district faces among the highest levels of agricultural and asset poverty in the nation. Agriculture and animal husbandry is a significant part of the SEED program, not only in the district headquarters but also in the villages, where the need is most acute. With the excellent soil and climate conditions, this district will hopefully return to being know as the richest area for agriculture in the nation.
Life in the rural regions is incredibly hard for those who live there, and such struggles have become a pressing issue in Sierra Leone as the country endeavors to stem the flood of people moving into the overcrowded capital city. In the districts like Koinadugu, tiny isolated villages are spaced miles apart. Transportation is both costly and dangerous and the roads are in a constant state of disrepair and during the rainy season completely impassable. Electricity and clean water are nonexistent. Banks, shops, computers - all the conveniences of "modern" living are incredibly rare.
Development can come to Sierra Leone only when it reaches the most isolated villages in the areas of greatest need. Because of these challenges, SEED keeps its Regional Office at the center of the Koinadugu District, extending the programs into the villages surrounding Kabala, creating change one community at a time.