Happy New Year! 2018 was an incredible year for The Raining Season. THANK YOU to those who prayed for us, traveled with us, sponsored children, supported us financially and shared our story with others. The Lord has blessed us in ways bigger than we could ever imagine. He has been faithful and for that we are grateful.
It has been a year of new adventures filled with teams traveling to Sierra Leone, children being united with their forever families, a new director of The Covering, and the opening of The Roots Home.
Here are some of our favorite highlights from the year.
In March, Katie Milazzo and Charles Currie, along with Nelson (Santigie) Smith were invited to attend a Medix event in Chicago, Illinois. Medix is a U.S. based medical staffing company. For over a year Medix has been serving a group of our oldest kiddos, providing encouragement, support, and guidance through monthly Skype calls. Each Medix office has individually made an incredible impact on our kids. Each month, they show up and remind our kids that they are loved, cared for, and looked after across the globe. At the event in Chicago, CEO Andrew Limouris and Director Valerie Voll pulled off a big surprise and presented TRS with a Core Purpose Award. We are honored to be a recipient of this award and excited to continue partnering with them in the new year.
A fundraiser led by Kelly Graven in late 2017 raised over $30,000 within 7 days in order to provide all 100 children with new bunk beds and mattresses. The beds were made in America and in January they were shipped to Sierra Leone. This allowed the beds to be specially made and built to last in the hot and humid Sierra Leone climate.
Many people stepped up and donated to make this possible. We are continuously overwhelmed with God’s goodness, and are so thankful to those who knew He was capable of making it happen! After arriving in March, the beds were quickly assembled and the children were over the moon with their new sleeping arrangements quickly showing them off when teams visited and requesting that their pictures be taken on their new beds.
In April, Abioseh Kamara was named co-founder of The Raining Season. Erica and Jason Rust met Osseh on their first trip to Sierra Leone. Osseh walked alongside the Rust family each step of the way as they worked through their first adoption. In 2008, Osseh was there to greet the first mission team to travel with Erica and Jason to Sierra Leone. It has always been a vision of Erica and Jason that one day this organization would be led by Sierra Leoneans and funded by the U.S. In April, they were excited to give Osseh the much-deserved title of co-founder. Over the years, Osseh has been instrumental in developing relationships with others in Sierra Leone that have been key on what The Raining Season has been able to accomplish.
In April, the first team of 2018 also visited The Covering. We were blessed to welcome 8 teams this year. When teams visit, it is an opportunity to make personal connections and relationships with the kids at the center. It is another opportunity for the children to know people care about them and love them. In 2018 teams helped to prepare The Roots Home for its opening and make final preparations on Pastor Daniel’s home, in addition to visiting the School for the Deaf and local hospitals.
After serving The Raining Season as the Country Director for two years, Katie Milazzo stepped down from her position in early May. During her time in Sierra Leone, she maintained the vision and helped to improve our position within the country. Her relationship with the embassy, social welfare, and the community were truly a blessing for our organization. In everything that Katie did, she glorified God. We are forever grateful for the impact she had during her time in Sierra Leone.
In May, a longtime dream became a reality because of the generous support of a group of donors spearheaded by Natalie Flowers and Matthew Wilson. In April, we hired a drilling company in an effort to find water on our property to establish a well. For those of you who have traveled to the Covering, you know that we sit on a mountain made of granite. By the grace of God, we have water! Our very own pump to our very own well and boy will this help to improve the daily operations of the Center. We are so very grateful!
Also in May, Sorie Kamara was named the new director of The Covering. Sorie joined The Raining Season staff in February of 2013 as a Finance Assistant. In 2014, Sorie was promoted to Finance Manager at The Covering. His hard work and dedication led him to be named Director of the Covering in May 2018. He oversees the daily operations of The Covering, in addition to still handling the finances. Additionally, he has been hard at work completing his Master’s Degree in finance. He is not only highly skilled, but remains humble in the Lord's direction for him. In less than a year he has steadily been working to implement his vision of an organization that is self-sustaining, including a property with room to educate all children at The Covering in-house.
The Raining Season had a very special visitor while our June team was on the ground. Freetown's very own Emmerson made an appearance at a celebration thrown by Khadijat Mojidi, former Country Coordinator of USAID in Sierra Leone. Khadijat and Mariama Keita worked to plan the celebration and the U.S. ambassador to Sierra Leone even attended. They brought soccer balls for the kids and encouraged them to work and study hard. It was a night that the children and staff at the center will not soon forget.
In early August, Pastor Daniel and family were able to move into their new home. Pastor Daniel and his wife, Augusta, were part of the Roots Project pilot program that would encourage adoption within Sierra Leone. A space to live and call home was important as Pastor Daniel’s family grew through adoption. Over the months, teams worked to paint the new home as the final touches were added for Pastor Daniel and family to move in.
After years of praying and planning and months of painting and preparing, the day finally came! On August 26th a new chapter for The Raining Season began. That was the day that our new Roots house became a home. Six older children moved into the home located not far from the Center. Charles and Ally Currie have welcomed these kids into the Roots Home. The Roots Project was born out of the desire to help facilitate healthy transitions for older children into life outside of the center. One of our main goals is to connect our residents to opportunities that are individualized to their interests and strengths.
On October 11, 2018, our third gala was held at Meadowhill Farms in Columbia, Tennessee. We were blessed with a wonderful gathering of supporters, entertainment, and a delicious dinner. We also had the opportunity to hear the experiences of those directly impacted by The Raining Season in some way. Founders, Jason and Erica Rust, along with Executive Director, Francis Pyle, shared an update on The Raining Season and our vision moving forward. Thank you to those who prayed over our evening and to those who came. We are thankful each day to be able to share The Raining Season and its mission with a growing group of supporters.
On December 20th, 2018, our first gala was held in Sierra Leone. Mariama Keita, Communications + Partnership Advisor, USAID, took the initiative to plan the event. Mariama was instrumental in the planning of the special celebration held at The Center in June. Once introduced to The Raining Season, it did not take her long to see the impact that The Raining Season was having in Sierra Leone, as well as its potential to grow. She became an instant supporter of our organization and used her experience in Sierra Leone to support our vision and goal to build our own facilities in Sierra Leone. She organized the event and invited people in Sierra Leone to learn more about The Raining Season and how they can support our vision. A large group of supporters, as well as staff and children from the Center attended the gala in Freetown. The audience was even treated to entertainment by some of our kiddos. It was a wonderful turnout and we are so thankful.
2018 was a big year! Thank you for linking arms with us. We serve a powerful God, and He continues to bless us. We are looking forward to new things to celebrate in 2019!
The Raining Season