The Importance of the Field Representative

Posted on Jun 13, 2018

Board Treasurer Chris Siegler shares insights from his recent visit to Sierra Leone

In March, I traveled to Sierra Leone. RSWR’s Field Representative, Sallian Sankoh, and I visited three projects. This was the first time I had been back since 2013, just before Ebola ravaged the country. What I saw this time was a country recovering from that devastating epidemic with great spirit and purpose. I also saw the incredible role Right Sharing projects are playing in that recovery, due in large part to Sallian’s guidance and support.

Sallian working in her office at the YMCA.

Sallian’s passion for women’s empowerment is the foundation of our work in Sierra Leone. She presents a strong role model for these women who seldom experience women in leadership positions. Qualifying for an RSWR grant is not an easy task for women in remote, rural villages in Sierra Leone, many of whom have no formal education. When a group of women expresses a desire to apply for a grant, Sallian supports them through the application process. If the group is selected for funding by the RSWR Board, Sallian and Ahmed Sesay return to the group for formal training in the organizational and leadership skills necessary for the self-help group (SHG) to operate well.

Sallian meeting with a
group of recipients of an
RSWR grant.

Through her visits to and mentorship of the group, Sallian establishes a strong rapport with the women. When I accompanied her to visit funded SHGs to monitor their progress, I got to see this in action. You can feel the women respond to her, as she alternately praises them for their hard work and admonishes them to stick to their loan repayment schedule and maintain their savings programs. It was clear that this kind of on-going mentoring is vital to a group’s success. Sallian understands the enormity of the challenges faced by these women, many of whom are widows (either from Ebola or the rebel war of 1991-2002) who are trying to feed their families and pay school fees, so their children can attend school.

It was enlightening to see one of RSWR’s Field Representatives in action, and it demonstrated to me how essential their work is. Right Sharing is blessed to have partners like Sallian Sankoh in Sierra Leone, Samson Ababu in Kenya, and Dr. R. Kannan in India. It was truly a humbling experience to visit with these women and listen to how their Right Sharing grant has changed their lives, as well as the plans they have for what they need to do next to build on their success.