Sierra Leone is a war-torn, poverty-stricken country in West Africa that has been plagued with disaster after disaster. After recovering from a relatively recent civil war that plagued the country from 1991-2002, the country was once again struck by crisis in 2014 when the ebola virus spread through the nation and left a death toll of 3,000 and affected over 10,000 of the countries citizens. In January of 2016, the Ebola epidemic has finally ceased, but the country is still plagued with poverty and illiteracy. The literacy rate in Sierra Leone is just over 35 percent, making it one of the most illiterate countries in the entire continent of Africa. Currently, Sierra Leone law requires all children to attend school for nine years (6 years of primary school and three of junior secondary school), but the country does not have enough teachers for every child to even meet the mandatory minimums. If you are a teacher who would like to help Sierra Leone children obtain the education they not only deserve, but also need to become literate adults in the future who can help improve their country, then read on to find out how to help and what you can expect while volunteer teaching in Sierra Leone. 

1. Contact An Organization Recruiting Teachers for Sierra Leone

Of course, no one expects you to fly to Sierra Leone alone and begin teaching. You need to find an organization actively recruiting teachers to help educate children, teenagers, and adults in Sierra Leone. The agencies know that teachers are typically not highly paid enough in the United States to be able to completely fund their own efforts and spend lengthy amounts of time teaching abroad, so many offer a monthly stipend, free housing, access to a humanitarian car fleet rental, and other essentials needed during your stay. Most are also very flexible about the amount of you spend teaching in Sierra Leone, and many allow you to teach only during your summer break from your current job or volunteer for one year. Of course, if you want to help longer, they will likely be happy to have you stay as long as you desire. 

Once you find an organization and want to learn more about it, you can find websites where past volunteers rate and critique specific programs, so you can feel sure that you are choosing an organization that is the best fit for you. 

2. Learn What Life Will Be Like While Living in Sierra Leone

Even if you would love to help educate Sierra Leone residents, you may worry that you will get to the country and regret making the decision to teach abroad. Even visiting a new country for vacation can be scary at times, let alone making a commitment to teach in a country you have never been to. Your first worry may be contracting disease, but the organization that you agree to work for will inform you of all the vaccinations you need to obtain before you embark on your journey that will help keep you disease-free. 

What happens when you are not teaching? That is up to you! Just like the current school district you work for does not dictate your after-hours schedule, you will not have a strict schedule to follow during your downtime while teaching in Sierra Leone. You will likely be provided with a vehicle your organization rents for you from a rental truck service in Sierra Leone, but if not, you can rent a truck of your own affordably. Check out a car rental service like Flash Vehicles to do so. You can use this vehicle to drive wherever you need to go while living in the country. Thankfully, residents of Sierra Leone and most of West Africa drive on the right side of the road, so you won't have to get used to driving on the left side, as you would when visiting many countries in East Africa. 

While plagued with economic problems, Sierra Leone is actually a beautiful country that many people actually enjoy visiting, even when not part of a humanitarian effort. However, staying safe is always of utmost importance when visiting any new country. Travel experts advise keeping your ventures in the country limited to daytime hours and not walking on the beautiful beaches alone or barefoot. Your humanitarian agency will provide you with more instructions on how to enjoy your free time safety when not teaching. Be sure to bring a great camera, because you will see many beautiful sites you would like to capture and create many great memories!

If you are a teacher and have considered volunteering your skills to a good cause, then no country needs your help more than Sierra Leone. Teaching abroad cannot only help you feel good about the work you are doing, but you can also have a lot of fun exploring and meeting great new friends while volunteering.