On October 12, 2021, Real Provencher showed a video of the International Peace Project that our club has been involved with since 2020 and because of Covid-19 delays, still is. Pictured above is Real Provencher.
In the video, Real explained that for our club's Global Grant Project, the focus was on building sustainable peace in Sierra Leone. Real explained that Sierra Leone had a civil war from 1991-2001 which destroyed much of their social/economic and political fabric. The country is still struggling with the results of that war and state infrastructure is still ineffective and absent. In addition, there is still a persistent mistrust of government and local conflicts still remain.
With the civil war in mind, the project that Real gave a great deal of his time to in Sierra Leone had an objective to build a collaborative program that involved local people and to provide those people with leadership and team building skills, collaborative problem solving, and consensus building skills as well as being individual agents of change. This was to be setup using both a coaching team (Real was one of the coaches) and implementation team. The Rotary team was made up of 6 members from the USA, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Australia. The team decided to set up two 6 day coaching sessions and then start reviewing local applicants. Of the 323 local applicants, 61 participants were chosen to attend. Each applicant not only had to attend but they had to create a local project to help their community in some way. The success of the Rotary project was to be measured  based on community impact. The project has been delayed some by the world wide outbreak of COVID-19 and the inability of team members to return to Sierra Leone for the program impact study. However, the project was very well received and many of the community projects that could be accomplished have already borne fruit. Some of the projects require people interaction and have been restricted by COVID-19 regulations that prevent the movement of people to areas around them.
A number of projects have also spun off to help deal with COVID-19. One such project created a group who went from village to village, before the restrictions were put in place, to teach everyone how to socially distance and wash their hands. That project was so successful the Rotary International provided additional funds to make it happen throughout Sierra Leone. There were also COVID-19 radio announcements using 8 radio stations that lasted 6 weeks. This was funded mostly by individual Rotarians and was very successful in spreading information about COVID-19.
In addition, a spin off project to make micro loans to local small businesses was also started and has already grown from the initial micro loans provided. It has been so successful that it will continue for years to come.
The project also partnered with Mediators Beyond Boarders to help with the project efforts by overcoming roadblocks within Sierra Leone. The project budget was set at $108,000. This amount was raised by the Magnolia Rotary Club and 8 other District 5910 clubs and 2 clubs outside the District 5910 boundaries. There was also a District 5910 match and a Rotary Foundation match to get to the full $108.000 budget.
The successes of the project to date are listed below:
  1. Rotarians and their clubs provided support.
  2. Trained 61 participants.
  3. Coached 11 peer groups to make a real difference in their communities.
  4. Sensitized +1,000,000 citizens of Sierra Leone to COVID-19.
  5. Started a Micro Lending project (69 loans to date and growing).
Real was surprised when Christina Dixon, Salamatu Conteh, Florence Roberts and Kadiatu Koroma, local Sierra Leone women project participants, sent a prerecorded heartfelt thank you to Real for all of his efforts to coach them and give them the skills necessary to succeed. The recorded clips were shown at the meeting. Several other project videos were also shown. Real pointed out that "Rotary truly opens doors to create opportunities but it is up to every Rotarian to walk through them!
To see Real's Slide Presentation CLICK HERE.