Washington, DC – The Catholic Church has always been in the forefront of actions that aimed at transforming lives: from ministering to all people about the Word of God, advocating for social justice and the protection of universal human rights to providing humanitarian assistance to families and communities as well as engaging in sustainable social and economic development support such as education and health care.
In Sierra Leone, under the leadership of His Grace Edward Tamba Charles, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Freetown, the Archdiocesan Development Office and Caritas Freetown have been in the forefront of coordinating aid and community development in the country.
The Church has and continues to assist families and communities rebuild from the ravages of the country’s post war trauma, the impact of the Ebola and the effects of the slow down imposed by the recent global recession, 2009-2011.
At the helm of leadership for the Archdiocese of Freetown’s Development Office and Caritas Freetown is Reverend Father Peter Konteh, a Sierra Leonean priest and Executive Director of the agency responsible for development aid for the Catholic Church. Father Konteh’s tireless effort to coordinate humanitarian and development service delivery built on his ability to solicit and build the required partnership for support.
Father Konteh recently traveled to Europe to facilitate partnership between Caritas Freetown and a number of groups and organizations. From Europe, he is visiting the United States to also meet with similar groups including officials of the United States government.
Last week, Father Konteh had a fruitful meeting with Americares, a health-focused relief and development organization that responds to people affected by poverty or disaster with life-changing medicine, medical supplies and health programs. For more than four decades, Americares has responded rapidly and effectively to the needs of local partners and their communities.
Father Konteh also met and had a very interesting meeting with some members of Congress, including Congressman Christopher Henry Smith to discuss a wide range of issues including the Archdiocese’s concern and interest in workforce development and job creation for young people in Sierra Leone.
Congressman Chris Smith, a staunch Catholic, is currently serving in his 20th term as the U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 4th congressional district, having served since 1981. His district includes portions of Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. He is a member of the Republican Party.
During their meeting, Father Konteh updated the Congressman on the relief and development work that Caritas Freetown and the Archdiocesan Development are undertaking.
Father Konteh also met with the U.S-based Africa Innovation and Technology Consortium (ITC-Africa) www.itcafrica.org in the state of Maryland to discuss about workforce training partnership and the shared commitment to promote innovation and technology in Sierra Leone.
ITC-Africa is an international not-profit organization that promotes and facilities innovation and technology development and utilization throughout Africa through its national partners.
During the meeting, Father Konteh and the Executive Director of ITC-Africa, Obi Nwachukwu agreed in principle to establish a pilot program that would provide an online information technology training for a few Sierra Leonean youth. Specific areas of the training will include Linux engineering and other forms of information technology.
Also, Father Konteh was glad to hear that TechSpires, www.techspires.org an affiliate organization of ITC-Africa, provides training to high school and vocational education students in App development and Web services.
Their discussion also focused on healthcare. Some of ITC-Africa’s affiliate organizations are working in healthcare and health promotion include Capacitybay Health Initiative (CBHI) and Capabay Healthcare Staffing Agency which operate from Nigeria.
Through these agencies, medical professionals from Nigeria and abroad travel, stay and provide services to other African countries on a two-year basis.
While in the Washington, DC’s areas, Father Konteh also met and held discussions with Michele Sumilas, Managing Director of Bread for the World; Dulce Gamboa, Associate for Latino Relations, and Geneviere Mougey, Senior Associate for Roman Catholic Engagement.
The central message of Father Konteh is that the people on the frontlines in fighting poverty and deprivation have a genuine commitment to advancing the goals of sustainable development, and that the Archdiocese of Freetown’s Development Office and Caritas Freetown are contributing to those goals in Sierra Leone.
Father Konteh also met with the Ambassador and staff of the Sierra Leone’s Embassy accredited near Washington, DC before departing for California to hold several high-profile consultations.