Each year, we reflect back and continue to see the many ways the Lord continues to bless The Raining Season as He works through our children, our staff, and you. For the past thirteen years, He has been faithful and gracious in fulfilling our needs. This year, we saw our kids excel in education, the return of travel, a special visitor to the center, and so much more.
Here are some of our favorite highlights from the year.
In February, we shared the exciting news that Mary passed the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination! Because she passed this exam, she was able to enroll at Milton Margai College. We dreamt of the day our first child would enter University, and before 2022 would end, we found out that even more would be joining her.
Finally, to wrap up a busy month, our Executive Director, Lori Pyle, and co-founder, Jason Rust, visited Trinity Church in Papillion, Nebraska, to share not only the heart of The Raining Season but also an update on The Raining Season. They shared updates on The Roots Project, our special needs apartment, The Hope Room, and the impact your support has on our kids. Trinity Church has been a long-time partner of The Raining Season.
On March 31st, our kids attending school outside the center participated in their annual Sports Day. It was the first Sports Day since March 2019, as COVID-19 canceled the event the past two years. Our kids look forward to this special day every year. The kids wear matching shirts, compete in events, and have fun with their friends. This year, our kids participated in a variety of events, including running races and the three-legged race.
On April 26th, The Raining Season had the opportunity to welcome a very special guest to our center. Idris Elba visited The Covering, spending part of his afternoon with our kids and staff. Idris Elba is an actor, producer, and musician. On that trip to Sierra Leone, he reached out to The Raining Season about visiting the center. During his visit to the center, he spent time sharing with our kids and staff. He asked them questions about what they wanted to do in the future and even gave them time to ask him questions. Of course, our kids could not let him leave without singing some songs for him!
Two of our children, James and Moses, attend Milton Margai School for the Deaf. In May, their school held its annual Thanksgiving Program. The Thanksgiving program is an opportunity to give thanks for all that the Lord has helped them to do throughout the year. They marched through the streets of Freetown and had special performances, including using sign language to interpret a song.
In January of this year, The Raining Season had the opportunity to welcome a very special volunteer to work with our younger children as an Early Childhood Literacy Teacher. Ms. Monica Robert spent time volunteering at The Raining Season on Mondays and Wednesdays. During her time at the center, Monica worked with our pre-k learners on various early literacy skills, including letters, colors, days of the week, and so much more. As the school year came to a close in June, so did Ms. Monica’s time at The Raining Season.
In June, we were also honored to share that Idris and Sabrina Elba, along with Christian Louboutin, chose The Raining Season as one of six organizations WORLDWIDE to participate in their second Walk a Mile in My Shoes campaign. The initiative was first introduced in June of 2021 to celebrate hope, empathy, and diversity. 2022’s collection was a capsule collection in support of education, the creative arts, and youth empowerment. A portion of the proceeds from the campaign would be given back to The Raining Season.
Finally, in June, our founder, Erica Rust, and Executive Director, Lori Pyle, had the opportunity to participate in community outreach through a rice feeding program while in Sierra Leone. They visited and shared rice in Grafton, Waterloo, and Kono. Helping those in need – regardless of where or what the need is – has always been at the heart of The Raining Season. These rice feeding programs were an opportunity to bless communities both close to The Covering and throughout Sierra Leone.
On July 16th, a team of six travelers led by Charles Currie traveled on our first team since January 2020. There were big hugs and a lot of catching up to do. It was a busy trip, but most importantly, it was good to be together again. The team primarily focused on spending time with the kids and staff and reestablishing connections since there had not been a team in so long. The team also visited the girls’ Roots House, where they spent time with all of our Roots young adults. Finally, several team members met with our school’s teachers.
Our Building Campaign is our largest fundraiser each year. At the end of July, we launched the 2022 Na We Os Building Campaign with the need to raise $55,000 by August 31st to continue calling The Covering our home. Na We Os is Krio for “This is our house.” The Covering is home to more than ninety children. This fundraiser isn’t just about a building. It is about the kids who live there. The Covering is their home. It provides stability, love, and a nurturing environment. The Covering allows us to provide safety, education, medical, spiritual, and nutrition twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty-five days a year. We shared multiple blog posts throughout July and August, including our staff that Makes the Covering a Home and our 88 Reasons Why we do what we do. We are grateful for the many people who stepped in and served as the hands and feet of Jesus for our children at The Covering in Sierra Leone. Because of your generous support, we raised the money needed to cover our rent for the year.
School resumed in September, and we shared that The Raining Season opened its school to the surrounding community this year! We have been so fortunate to have a school onsite that so many of our children have attended. Each year, more and more students begin attending school outside the center, so we have room to serve the community. As the new school year began, we were serving thirty-one TRS kids and eighty-nine children from the community! Many of these children are part of our preschool classes.
October brought many exciting education updates. Our kids who took the Basic Education Certificate Exam earlier in the year received their results, and nine kids successfully passed the exam and promoted to Senior Secondary school. Also, after taking the West Africa Senior School Certificate Exam (WASSCE) last spring, eight of our Roots kids passed! These students worked incredibly hard to study and prepare for this exam, attending extra classes and tutoring sessions. Now, they have begun enrolling in University, and we are excited for what their futures hold.
In June 2020, The Raining Season announced its new Executive Director, Lori Pyle. Since taking over as Executive Director, Lori has made three trips to Sierra Leone, working closely with our in-country staff on the vision of TRS, developing relationships within Sierra Leone and beyond, and envisioning what The Raining Season’s future might look like. Lori has stepped into this role with passion and determination, so it is with excitement that we share that as of November 1st, Lori has expanded her role as Executive Director to full-time. As The Raining Season looks to the future, the expansion of this role will be crucial to our organization’s future growth.
On November 27th, our kids held a special Thanksgiving service at The Covering’s church. This service was extra special because our kids had the opportunity to invite some of their friends from school to the service. Pastor Daniel shared a message during the Thanksgiving service, and our children led worship and shared.