In March, we made the difficult decision to postpone our April travel team due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Our travel team, the TRS staff, and our kids at the center were disappointed that this long-anticipated trip would need to be delayed. However, as the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and that is exactly what this team chose to do. They recognized the importance of the supplies teams bring to the center when they travel. It is very expensive to buy everyday essentials such as medications, toilet paper, diapers, and personal care items in Freetown. Postponing travel indefinitely meant that these much-needed supplies would not be making their way to our kids and staff at the center.
One team member saw it as an opportunity to raise sponsorship dollars to support kids at the center. Sponsorship is the number one way to support what TRS does to serve some of the most vulnerable children in Sierra Leone every day. This fundraiser brought in more than $2,000, enough to fully sponsor four children for an entire year!
Another team member, Casey Boersma, was preparing to make her first trip to Sierra Leone in April. After the postponement, her nine-year-old daughter, Amalia, made a beautiful canvas painting of Africa using a newly learned paint technique for a fellow traveler and friend, Casey Falen. That painting, which began as a kind gesture, blossomed into a project that will bless our staff.
If you’ve been around for a while, you know about the kids, but it’s the sixty-three aunties, cooks, guards, teachers, administrators, and others who love, protect, and provide, regardless of circumstance, who make TRS truly special. Many of these caregivers are currently in quarantine with the kids and away from their own families to ensure everyone is healthy.
As an organization, we were extremely blessed to move almost seamlessly into our lockdown procedures at the center. With Ebola in the not so distant past, our leadership and staff were prepared to transition into a schedule that included stockpiling enough food for an extended period of time. They were also prepared to transition our staff from their usual 48-hour shifts to serving for two weeks at a time. When approached with the possibility of a fundraiser to bless the staff, Sorie Kamara, our in-country director, shared that what our staff needs most right now is money. In a time like this, you can imagine the hardships and financial strain that this places on their families still at home. Sierra Leone has implemented two nationwide, three-day lockdowns to help halt the spread of COVID-19. Families are unable to work, and kids are not in school.
With the help of the Walker family, Amalia’s Kids’ Art With a Purpose came to fruition. Amalia and team committed to making 63 pieces of art, one dedicated to each staff member. With the help of Facebook, the fundraiser was shared with an audience of people who are familiar with The Raining Season, as well as many who may have been hearing about TRS for the very first time. Amalia shared a Zoom training to recruit the help of others to assist in the art-making. Even with the help of many, she single-handedly created more than thirty pieces of art! Each piece is uniquely designed for the recipient. The back of the painting includes a sticker with The Raining Season’s name, along with the staff member’s name it is supporting, and the artist who created the painting.
In a matter of two weeks, through the purchase of a canvas painting, every single staff member was sponsored. Because of the generosity of some amazing people, $3,776 was raised! That is enough for each of our sixty-three staff members to receive nearly $60! The money has been sent to TRS stateside, and it will be wired to Sierra Leone to be distributed to each staff member. This is an incredible amount of money that will make an impact on our staff and their families.
THANK YOU, Amalia and team, for serving The Raining Season in such a unique and special way. Your generosity and kindness will bless our staff in a significant way.
The Raining Season