Nanfayie children played a soccer game with jerseys brought as a gift from BVCS. (Submitted photo)

BVCS principal visits sister school in Sierra Leone

Smithers school has partnered with an African one and hopes to help with water and educational needs

Bulkley Valley Christian School (BVCS) has made some first steps toward helping out its sister school in Nanfayie, Sierra Leone.

Chris Steenhof visited the village in the northern part of Sierra Leone at the end of January. The trip was essentially a fact-finding mission.

“It was an eye-opening experience, for sure,” he said. “I was pretty struck by the needs of the community; there are two very significant needs. The town itself does not have a water source within the community so they have to walk to their water source, which is about a kilometre-and-a-half to two kilometres away.

“The more significant need, I would say, would be the educational need. They have teachers who are volunteers, teachers who struggle with literacy, who are trying to teach kids how to read and write, who struggle with reading and writing themselves.”

Steenhof said his school is committed to helping solve both problems.

“I think solving the water problem is not complicated, if they had some money they could drill a well; but partnering with people in the country itself, who are doing work in the area of literacy for teachers, is something that we can get on board with,” he said.

“We’re not sure exactly what that looks like at this point. Education in any developing country is an important way of furthering the development and we’re an educational facility ourself so that would be an area we would want to be involved in long-term. It’s not a short-term solution, it’s not something you solve in a year, it’s something you solve over 30, 40 years; we’re committed to that.”

But it’s not a one-way relationship, he noted, saying he was struck by the resourcefulness and passion of the people to improve their community.

“I came away a changed person, so they can offer us something as well, it’s not just us giving them stuff,” said Steenhof.

While in Nanfayie, Steenhof presented the village with a Smithers flag, the town’s coat of arms and a letter from Mayor Taylor Bachrach.

“That was a pretty neat experience; it meant a lot to them,” Steenhof said. “They end up giving you their best, which is pretty overwhelming because they don’t have a whole lot, but what they give you is, they’ll give you the shirt off their back and the best of what they have because you are their guest.”

In return, the people of Nanfayie presented him with a goat, which he ended up travelling with as he toured the countryside.

“We had eight people jammed in this Land Rover, which I guess for them is nothing, but we had three chickens, a goat and eight people in this land Rover, it was quite something.”

The goat and chickens ended up being part of a big feast the village put on at the end of the visit.


BVCS Principal Chris Steenhof presents gifts and a letter from the Town of Smithers to the chief of Nanfayie village in Sierra Leone. (Submitted photo)

Chris Steenhof talks to the students of Nanfayie wearing a traditional chief’s tunic he received as a gift from the chief. (Submitted photo)

A goat given to Chris Steenhof by the village of Nanfayie travelled with him as he toured the countryside. (Submitted photo)

Just Posted

Ramona Wilson Memorial Walk: Twenty-five years, but still no closure

“What we’re standing for today is that nobody is going to sweep this under the rug, nobody.”

Muheim class repeats 2017 award for interaction with seniors

Liliana Pesce’s Grade 4-5 class honoured by BC Retired Teachers Association

Bulkley Valley U14 boys soccer squad wins zones

The Rapids will now proceed to provincial championship in Prince George July 4-5

Donaldson announces seal coating for portions of Hwy 16, Kispiox

Two sections of road in the Bulkley Valley have had their fate sealed.

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

Most Read