An African American woman who lives in California and works in the film industry ends up visiting Sierra Leone. She falls in love with the beauty of the people and the place, and learns about the country’s connection to the blood diamond crisis. She’s moved to make a documentary about the crisis.
Her connection is so deep that eventually she launches a nonprofit called Shine on Sierra Leone.
THEN, (read carefully, please) after running the nonprofit for around five years, that same woman does an ancestry test and finds out that her maternal lineage is ALL from Sierra Leone. She literally had no idea.
Isn’t that incredible?
Was she led there by some ancestral force? Was she guided back to help her homeland? Could she feel a part of herself in the people and the land?
All of that amazingness aside, let’s introduce her properly.
Meet Tiffany Persons.
“I found out that I am directly from the tribes I serve,” she shares, still awe-struck years later.
“It has given me a sense of peace. I have found home.”
Shine On Sierra Leone works to develop the social capital of Sierra Leone through various projects in the areas of education, arts, entrepreneurship and micro-lending, maternal and child healthcare, computer and adult literacy, sustainable infrastructure, eco-tourism, and agriculture.
Here are some of the organization’s long list of victories…
The organization built from scratch and runs a primary school called Muddy Lotus that educates nearly 400 students via a non-traditional, holistic approach that includes mindfulness practices such as deep breathing.
They launched a maternal and children’s healthcare program that has served some 50,000 women and children to date.
They’ve provided over 7000 microloans.
They’ve built and managed over eight computer centers throughout Sierra Leone, and trained over 20,000 people on computer literacy.
The organization has distributed 300 water filter bucket systems that provides pure water to 30,000 people over the next 10 years.
600 people have been educated in their adult literacy program.
The organization takes care of 63 children orphaned by the 2014 ebola outbreak.
The nonprofit recently launched Ashley’s Clinic, a healthcare program on their Muddy Lotus Primary School grounds, which aims to address malaria, and diarrheal and respitarory diseases – illnessses that plague Sierra Leone’s youth. Recently opened, in its first six weeks of operation the clinic has already successfully treated 28 cases of malaria.
Shine on Sierra Leone has literally breathed life into the community in which it works. With all of that accomplished, you may ask, what could be next on the organization’s agenda?
Along with increasing the capacity of its clinic, the organizational has begun expanding its educational program. This month, the Muddy Lotus Secondary School will officially open. The school will dive deeper into wholistic education, aiming to cultivate young people who are “powerful, conscious, self-actualized stewards of service and transformation for their country and the world at large.”
Lastly, the organization has launched a student sponorship program. For a small monthly contribution of $35, donors support a child’s education, provides them ongoing access to healthcare and gives them a daily hot lunch.
While many of us mindlessly devour $35 in a few days, the thought of being able to support a child for that little is simply inspiring. Why not?