As the University of Makeni stands for building a civilisation of love, it is therefore striving to attain this vision through its various programs both within the university and at community level. On Saturday 12th September 2015 the Development Studies Department of UNIMAK organized two grand functions, one held in the university auditorium and the other at an Ebola hit community.
The one held at the college was the Annual Development Studies Seminar 2015. In his opening remarks, the Head of the Development Studies Department, Mr Unisa P Kamara, said the occasion was both an educative and interactive session for outgoing students of the department as they are on the verge of leaving the institution to face the wider world where they will be expected to implement theories and practical work they have learnt at the university.
He admonished them not to be emotionally attached to either the college or a specific individual, as they will one day quit the confines of the institution and face numerous challenges in life. He called on all to be steadfast and provide good leadership for the country when they have graduated.
Dr Fr. Francis Shedu Sesay, Dean of Academic Affairs, told scores of jubilant students at the auditorium that all that they have studied in the past for four years must be used to develop people. He added that the seminar conducted for the students might be the end at their time at the university, but it can as well be the beginning to effect community service through values learnt at the institution.
The keynote speaker, Rev Fr. Peter Conteh, said as Development Agents, people must be at the centre of their development activities. He compared the role of a development worker to that of a steward or a waiter in a restaurant. Fr Peter therefore said the intervention of any development animator must be relevant, appropriate, effective and timely.
On the same day, forty-five year two students of the Development Studies Department embarked on an outreach program at Makomp Dorong, an Ebola affected community in the Bombali Shebora Chiefdom of Bombali District.
Mr Gerald Sesay, a lecturer at the department, said as 21st September marks International Peace Day, they thought it fit as a university and a department to engage community people, especially those hit hard by the Ebola Virus Disease, when a lot of conflicts arose, for example by alerting health workers for a sick person to be taken for treatment, or quarantining of people, so the outreach program therefore aimed at restoring peace and confidence among the people.
Considering one of the three pillars of the University, which is community services, they employed conflict resolving skills to bring lasting peace in a community where at the height of Ebola a lot of differences among the people were created. It was therefore an opportunity for community people to express their ordeals during the peak of the crisis in their village.
The engagement was indeed lively and fruitful as students also were able to gain a lot from the community members in terms of knowing their culture, tradition and their way of life. The interaction unravelled the daunting challenges the community faced and solutions were offered. At the end, many did breathe a sigh of relief as they were able to accept their long term enemies and ready to forge ahead with their normal routines.