Sierra Leone: The roots of the Goderich Waldorf School in Rokel reach back into the year 1995. It was then that Shannoh Kandoh started teaching children in Freetown during the civil war. In 2000 he was able to officially found a school, which after several moves, finally found a permanent place in Rokel in 2009. There, about 60 children are taught free of charge, which is only possible due to donations.
Rice and cassava leaf soup is served with bread and home-made ginger beer. The children are wearing their best clothes, for today is the closing ceremony of the school year and afterwards the holidays begin when asked what was special about the past school year or what they will miss during the holidays, the answer is a lively chatter with moving content. One little boy says "the morning verse", others "the games and the teachers". And of course they will miss the bread for lunch and shaking hands in the morning.
In Rokel the Goderich Waldorf School had to make a new beginning. Now there are two classrooms for 60 children. Just as in Freetown, the children receive a warm meal every day. Until recently their staple diet was rice and plasas (edible leaves with spices), but rice is an imported product and was becoming ever more expensive. For this reason the teachers decided to support local forms of nutrition and so cassava and sweet potatoes have been integrated into the meal plan.
None of the 150 children that were taught at the Waldorf School in Freetown are still at the school. Some of them were trained as child soldiers and forced, under the influence of drugs, to commit atrocities. Even once the civil war had ended the teachers bade the children farewell with fear in their hearts at the end of term and were overjoyed to see them again after the holidays. The steady increase in rental costs finally forced the teachers – after a long and desperate battle - to find a new home for the school. The teachers fought to find places for all the children at the state schools, but none of the children could come with to Rokel, because the distance was simply too great.
Shannoh Kandoh, the founder of the school, has been involved in a regional peace project since February 2010. He is still chairperson at the school and receives support from Alfred Barlatt, so that he can take care of his new duties. Despite the difficulties the Goderich Waldorf School is going strong and new projects are being planned.
In October 2011, a new school building was built in Rokel in just ten days. Under the leadership of the American Mike Reynolds, a U-shaped clay building was created by the architectural principle of Earthship made of car tires, cans and plastic bottles. In the future the students will be educated in it and a second building for the higher classes is being planned.