SIERRA LEONE: 30 village families employed in tea production
Salesians also work with youth to help them build a future
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Tikonko, in the Bo district of Sierra Leone, have transformed the economy of an entire village by employing 30 families in harvesting and drying the leaves of the Moringa oleifera plant. The plant, imported from India, is also called a miracle plant and makes a black tea powder that acts as a food supplement and is used to enrich soups.
Once the leaves are dried, they are processed inside a machine and turned into a black tea powder. The tea is then packaged into sachets and its final packaging. Brother Riccardo Racca, a Salesian coadjutor, along with three others, have grown this successful project in just three years. Funding for the project, including the machinery to package the product, came from the Salesian German Cooperation.
“Moringa plants grow very well in our area. It has white flowers, can grow a lot and become a real tree, and is good for people,” explained Bro. Racca. “There is nothing thrown away on the shrub. We harvest and dry the leaves, which is simple but a time-consuming process.”
The Gola Rainforest National Park, in the southeast of Sierra Leone where the project is taking place, has rich forests and natural beauty but also has a troubled history. Bro. Racca said, “Outside of here we are known for three things — diamonds, child soldiers, and Ebola, but it is clear that Sierra Leone is not just that.”
He added, “Salesians work with youth to give them a chance to build a future. We teach them trades in our vocational schools so they can find a job. This is where the success of an entire African country like Sierra Leone starts.”
Salesian missionaries have been serving in Sierra Leone since 2001 when they began working to rehabilitate former child soldiers through the organization Don Bosco Fambul. Youth across the country face significant challenges in accessing education. With too few teachers and many school buildings destroyed in the war, resources are thin. Persistently high illiteracy rates mean that an estimated 70% of Sierra Leone’s youth are unemployed or underemployed.
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Salesian Missions – Sierra Leone
UNICEF – Sierra Leone