I am Jamie Ansumana. I am a young Sierra Leonean woman, raised and educated by a single parent – my father.
In 2008, I was told about the Restless Development (which back then was called SPW – Students Partnership Worldwide) Youth Reproductive Health volunteer programme. I became motivated to apply as a Volunteer Peer Educator and was successfully recruited after going through a rigorous selection process which lasted two days. I was later invited to a one month foundation training and I was sent to the village of Panguma for my volunteer placement in the Lower Bambara Chiefdom in Kenema District – which is in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. This was my very first opportunity to leave my family for another location.
In the first two weeks of the month-long foundation training, I was not confident about myself or and didn’t take part in discussions, I didn’t feel fit to perform the assigned tasks as a volunteer, but I was eager to gain new knowledge and learn new skills on the programme.
Jamie at theCrossing point from Debia to Tengessa to follow up on action plan implementation
After two weeks of intensive training, I started improving gradually on my communication skills and confidence level from the coaching I received from the facilitators. After the training, I was sent with my placement partner in the village of Panguma for nine months, to facilitate training on youth sexual and reproductive health in schools, and to organise community events with community board members (community members who form a group and act as local decision-makers for the programme) for national events like World AIDS Day, Day of the African Child and International Women’s Day.
I was not sure whether I would go to the community – I cried the whole night thinking about my family, especially my father back home. But, I was always anticipating taking up leadership responsibilities and actively participating in decision making. I made up my mind to go and deliver the programme’s aims and unique vision in my community, through non-formal education methods.
During my time as a volunteer, I conducted capacity building training for both in-school and out-of-school young people, giving them the opportunity to make and act upon informed decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health. After my placement in Panguma for nine months, I was recognised as the best facilitator for the 2009/2010 volunteers during our debrief training.
After my volunteering with Restless Development, I was motivated to further my studies. I successfully applied to Njala University and graduated with a certificate in Community Health Nursing. I worked hard to achieve my goal, which was to support communities to improve their lifestyles to be more healthy.
Based on my hard work and dedication as a volunteer during my placement period, I applied for a job as a Field Officer by Restless Development to work on our Ebola emergency response – which fit with my medical experience and inspiration to work with young people. I thrive on daily challenges, and from the satisfaction of performing well. I led on the delivery of training and supervision visits to support the volunteers with their task across communities, supporting 50 community mobilisers. I particularly enjoyed being part of a productive team, and contributed to the overall success of Restless Development’s Ebola social mobilization action project in Bo district.
I am still working for Restless Development today, and am now working on the Strengthening Accountability building inclusion (SABI) programme in Bonthe. I am now a self-motivated and result-oriented field worker with experience spanning across the Ebola Response Programme (Social Mobilization Action Consortium), youth sexual reproductive health and community development dynamics. I am now both flexible and open to change. My dedication, experience, and resilience are evidence of my growth within my career. I am a team player who is good in planning, a good trainer, a very good community mobilizer, and have excellent skills in managing finances with a high sense of accountability.
The Restless Development volunteer experience contributed greatly to the person I am today. Because of the knowledge, skills, and experience I gained, I was able to make informed decisions about my career plans. My plan is not just to be a Field Officer, but to further my studies. If I hadn’t been a Volunteer Peer Educator for Restless Development, which put me at the forefront of change and development, I would have dropped out of university because my father was not able to pay my university fees.
Being a young woman myself, I am motivated to support and provide guidance for other young girls in rural communities to access education and develop their skills too.
Click here to read more about Restless Development’s work in Sierra Leone.