As part of an ongoing collaboration between CEU San Pablo University and the University of Makeni (Sierra Leone) that started in 2009, a group of 17 people travelled to the African city from February 18th to the 24th. The trip was organised by the Vice-Rectorate for Internationalisation for 12 students (9 from the Bachelor's Degree in Architecture and 3 from the School of Economics and Business) and 5 coordinators from different areas: Luis Perea, professor of the Degree in Architecture; Gloria Aznar, professor at the School of Economics and Business, Beatriz Guerrero, professor at the School of Humanities and Communication Sciences, María Losana, from the CEU Universities Team, and Daniel Pérez, architect and project collaborator. The team was assisted by the Architecture alumnae Clara Abella, who lives in Sierra Leone for a part of the year and is a key link to the whole project.
Throughout the week, the team worked on development and community welfare projects. The most progress was made in the Design Project of an Experimental Community in the village of Worreh, financed by Madrid’s City Council, where the proposals for this community were presented, discussing the layout of the plots, the initial construction of latrines and a well, interviews with the 10 selected families and an analysis of agricultural activity, among other initiatives and proposals.
Additionally, school supplies were donated to the children in Worreh. There was also a painting workshop and a visit to the Development Cooperation projects in the city of Kabala. In the academic field, photography classes were held for Communication students and urban planning classes for students doing the Master's Degree in Development.
José Antonio Urrialde and Marina Pérez Gordo, professors at the School of Medicine, as part of the Panlap Experimental Community project, held health education workshops with a total of 214 participants from the village. Workshops were also held in Worreh, attended by the 10 families who are part of the project, plus local inhabitants, making a total of 48 attendees, mostly adults. Among the initiatives carried out in the two villages, the Health Education workshop was particularly noteworthy, which addressed aspects such as the importance of the WASH programme, the use of latrines, menstrual and women's health (breast palpation and warning signs), as well as the prevention of respiratory and digestive infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
These activities, among many others, sought the participation of local stakeholders, with an eye to starting future initiatives. Although the initial collaboration is with the University of Makeni, these initiatives involve working with other institutions, NGOs, authorities and local communities, fostering direct contact and shared work.