New Program Raises Hope for People of Sierra Leone

Raising hope for the people of Sierra Leone is the central focus of a UT Arlington professor, his team and the programs he developed.

Dr. Alusine Jalloh, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Africa Program, has implemented a new outreach program, Restore Hope Project.

Based in Jalloh’s homeland of Sierra Leone, Restore Hope Project’s mission is to educate and equip students and volunteers. Jalloh said he hopes his fellow countrymen will use the program to develop the capacity to reason and “make change” that results in hope and health for themselves and those around them.

“[The goal of Restore Hope Project is] to try and encourage others to live up to the standards by which we ourselves are willing to live,” Jollah said. “The actions and behaviors by the students and volunteers in Sierra Leone … should be determined by a commitment to highly moral, ethical, healthy and responsible standards.”

Jollah is working to include a study abroad component to the work in Sierra Leone, enabling students from UT Arlington to spend some time in the African region and see firsthand the restoration work being done there. He said he hopes students who volunteer for the program and work in the program’s main facility, Hope Center, will see “that no culture is superior nor a model to which other cultures should conform.” Jollah said the Hope Center will be a physical springboard for growth, education and social reform.

“The Hope Center contains a conference room, male and female dormitories, classrooms, a computer lab, a dental, a medical clinic and a guest house,” he said. “Because Sierra Leone has experienced a decade-long devastating civil war dating from 1991 to 2002, the Hope Center will contribute to the rebuilding of the infrastructure and lives of the people in Sierra Leone.”

Jalloh’s main focus, the Africa Program, was created in 1994 to promote business, education and technological relations between Africa and Texas. He and his team have worked to bring several distinguished African scholars and public officials – people like Dr. Ali A. Mazrail, Wole Soyinka and Desmond Tutu – to the Arlington campus to speak to students about a variety of topics, from politics to education. In September, Jollah hosted the Sierra Leone 50th Anniversary Panel Discussion and Cultural Fashion Show to address the myriad challenges facing Sierra Leone.

“Education is the key to realizing the human potential that is essential for Africa’s overall development,” he said.

During the summers, Jalloh works with undergraduates and graduate students on African Fellowship Awards to study in African countries. Students who are accepted to the program will learn the history, business, politics, and culture of Africa.  This helps students to learn techniques to use in the global marketplace, he said.

For more information about the Africa Program of Jolla’s Restore Hope Program, visit their websites. Students interested in studying in Africa next summer should connect with the Study Abroad office.

[Written by Karla Cano, College of Liberal Arts]

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