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 fourteen years, He has been faithful and gracious in fulfilling our needs. This year, we saw our kids excel in education, a full team travel, a special announcement, and so much more.
Here are some of our favorite highlights from the year.
On March 6th, our kids who attend school outside of the center at Rising Academy participated in their annual Sports Day at school. Sports Day is held each year as part of the school’s extracurricular activities. Our kids are excited about this special day every year. They work incredibly hard in school, so this special day to compete, cheer on their classmates, and have fun is something they look forward to. The kids wear matching shirts, compete in events, and have fun with their friends. This year, our kids participated in various events, including running races and the three-legged race.
Also, in March, seven children and four staff members from the Hope Apartment had the opportunity to attend World Hope International’s second annual Enable the Children’s Beach Outing. This event invites families and children living with disabilities across Sierra Leone to help strengthen the community, empower families, and reduce the stigma. Approximately two thousand people attended the event in 2023, held at Lumley Beach in Freetown.
On April 16th, co-founder Jason Rust and Executive Director Lori Pyle visited Trinity Church in Papillion, Nebraska. Trinity Church has been a longtime partner of The Raining Season. Their church community has supported The Raining Season through sponsorship, fundraising, prayer, and traveling since 2010. This year, Jason and Lori had the opportunity to share an update on the ten children who came to our center last fall, as well as some relationships TRS has been able to foster within Sierra Leone that want to help The Raining Season continue and further its mission.
In May, we launched a Sponsorship Drive with the goal of joining hands with twenty-five new sponsors and increasing twenty-five current sponsorships for the children at The Covering. Growing our sponsorship ensures that we continue to provide a safe place for our kids to live, opportunity through education, nutritious food, essential medical care, and spiritual nurturing every day. By the end of May, we were able to celebrate nine new sponsorships and twenty-five children who had their sponsorship increased! We are continuously grateful for the hundreds of people who have said yes to sponsorship. Your generous giving enables The Raining Season to continue its work in Sierra Leone.
On May 3rd, The Raining Season’s Primary School hosted its first ever Sports Day. The event was held at SS Camp Field in the Hill Station community. The day began with the playing of Sierra Leone’s National Anthem. Throughout the day, the kids participated in sprint races, musical chairs, pop the balloon, the three-legged race, and relay races. Sports Day is not only fun, but it also teaches the kids teamwork, perseverance, hard work, and sportsmanship. The kids wore matching shirts made just for the day that distinguished their teams, and they loved competing against their classmates. This year, they were divided into four teams. All the children had fun competing against and cheering for their classmates.
In August, we celebrated our first young adult to graduate from the Roots Project. Issa came to The Raining Season when he was eight years old. In early 2022, he enrolled in vocational training, where he would learn the skills to become a tailor. As Issa began this internship, he discovered that not only did he enjoy the internship, but he was also very good at it. As he continued to excel at his training, our staff began to explore his next step as he would become the first young adult to graduate from Roots. As Issa transitioned from the Roots House, he was reunited with his older sister, who he is living with in Waterloo as he continued his training. Our leadership staff, both stateside and in Sierra Leone, have been working together diligently to help Issa grow and succeed so that he would be ready for this transition. Issa received a sewing machine that was given to him through the Roots program so that he would be able to start his tailoring business.
August also allowed us to bless our staff. Inflation was impacting our staff in Sierra Leone. Prices on everyday goods have risen quickly over the past year, including rice, which has doubled in cost. Beginning in August, The Raining Season made the decision to supplement our staff’s income by providing them with half a bag of rice, approximately fifty-five pounds, each month for the next four months to help ease the burden of rising costs. Thanks to a generous donation, we could meet this need for our staff without ever sharing it. God is good, and sometimes, He provides before we even have the opportunity to ask.
On September 4th, all of our primary and secondary school kids began their new school year. This year, we have thirty-one children attending school outside the center at Rising Academy. For the second year, The Raining Season has been able to open its school to the surrounding community. Our enrollment is up from last year as our school is serving thirty-two TRS kids and one hundred one children from the community, totaling one hundred thirty-three children!
In September, a team of twelve led by Matt Pearson traveled to Sierra Leone to serve The Raining Season. It was extra special because it was our first full team since before the pandemic. The team spent the week loving and serving our kids and staff. This included playtime, devotions, visiting the Roots homes, a pizza party, serving the community, and a trip to the beach for EVERYONE!
September also brought a BIG announcement. After two long years in the making, we could finally share the news that The Raining Season is moving to Kono. This move will allow The Raining Season to build out The Roots Project, including a village that will provide sustainability, restoration, and hope to so many. This announcement came after a lease signing ceremony in Kono to secure one hundred acres of land in early September.
Another special project was completed as part of the lease signing ceremony in September. As our Founder Erica Rust, Executive Director Lori Pyle, and leadership staff in Sierra Leone prepared to visit Kono for The Raining Season’s lease signing ceremony to secure 100 acres of land, they also wanted to serve the community that we will soon call home in a practical way. With the help of many generous donors, The Raining Season was able to distribute mosquito nets to families in the Tankoro Chiefdom, a district in Kono. As The Raining Season looks ahead to the future, we will have the opportunity to root our work in the Kono community, serving not only the children in our care but also hundreds of children and families outside the gates. Distributing mosquito nets is only the beginning.
In October, The Raining Season launched its first Meet the Need campaign in over a year. The mattresses at The Covering needed to be replaced after five years. Some were in dire need of being replaced, while it was only a matter of time before they all needed to be replaced. Aside from everyday wear and tear, the climate is very hard on the mattresses without the ability to control the heat or humidity. Our beds at The Covering are not a standard size, so we needed to have the mattresses custom-made. Our Meet the Need goal was to raise $7,000 to purchase eighty-eight mattresses, and through your generosity, we met the goal, and the mattresses were delivered in early November. Now, each child has a new mattress to sleep on each night.
The Raining Season ended 2023 on a high note with our annual Christmas celebration in December. An amazing group of sponsors went above and beyond to generously donate the funds needed to put on a special Christmas party. The kids and staff had a fantastic time at the party. The party included Christmas decorations, a delicious meal, and dancing! They feasted on chicken, spaghetti, and salad. At the end of the party, the children and staff gave Pastor Daniel and Aunty Augusta a gift to thank them for their many years of service to The Raining Season. In addition to the party, our children each received a new African dress outfit and new everyday clothes.
Thank you for being part of our story in 2023. We are looking forward to watching the children continue to flourish and continue our mission in 2024. Thank you for your continued support!
The Raining Season