PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dave Huddleston followed a successful Delaware County real estate developer to West Africa, where he is building a better way of life for people in remote villages.
It was a welcome like no other from three villages in Sierra Leone who thank a group of American high school students for serving their community.
“It was amazing seeing everyone singing and dancing. It was pretty cool,” said Kysa, daughter of Eyewitness News’ Dave Huddleston. Kysa and Dave went on a two-week service trip where the American students taught English in the classroom. They also raised $10,000 for a library, the first in this remote area.
The man who organized this trip is Jeff Hall, a Media native. In 1987 he served in the Peace Corps, “and now I’m back at home doing a regular full-time job,” Hall said.
But in the ’90s, these villages were destroyed during Sierra Leone’s civil war. Hall says for five years now, he’s been coming back to rebuild homes and lives.
“It started fairly informal with roofs, because people needed shelter, and once they had shelter, they could farm again,” Hall said.
He bought metal roofs to replace the old thatch and tarp ones that constantly ripped and leaked when it rained. He started a non-profit organization called OneVillage Partners, and then really got involved.
“After shelter, we started the water wells,” Hall said. “They had to walk two or three miles to an open hole that has contaminated water, so they were sick all the time.”
Dave Huddleston reports…
With health improvements in place, OneVillage Partners focused on education providing 400 scholarships.
“We’ve invested about $100,000 in three villages with a total of five thousand people,” Hall said.
Mariama Ansumana is one of those helped.
“I was sick, all the time, all the time, sick,” said Ansumana.
But she got a new roof and scholarships for two daughters.
“OneVillage Partners has done great for me,” said Ansumana.
Hall says no matter where you are, we can all do something great to help others.
“For some people, it will be working down the street, but for me and my circumstance, I think it’s to work in Sierra Leone,” Hall said.
For more info on OneVillage Partners, click here.
Reported by Dave Huddleston, CBS3