Firefighters and Swingsets to Sierra Leone


American or African, children love to play. “One of the things that is of value to Children of the Nations is letting kids be kids,” said Kristen Bushnell, COTN–USA Director of Marketing and Special Events. “In Africa,” she continued, “this isn't always the case.”

Come November 21st, Kristen will be leading a Venture Team to Banta Mokelleh, Sierra Leone, where their main objective is the construction of a playground facility. “The goal,” she said, “is to bless them with the opportunity to be kids, when so many have had to be more mature because of their life experiences.”

Rev. Angie Myles, COTN Country Director in Sierra Leone, expressed great excitement for the team’s project. “This is very important,” she said. “Outside of our nursery school, we were able to put a swing, and I tell you, it was more of a problem for us.” The children got great joy from the swing, but “the number of children,” Rev. Angie said, “put extra stress on our teachers because it was one [swing] for so many children.”

Though the needs of the children are her first priority, Kristen’s dreams for this trip’s impact go far beyond the immediate tasks they will accomplish. “This is a Vision Trip,” she said, “to introduce people to Children of the Nations.” She'll be leading the team of fourteen from Bothell, Washington’s Eastlake Community Church—her home church.

“It’s a mesh of my church and my ministry,” Kristen said. None of her teammates have been involved with COTN before. “Many have never even been out of the country,” she continued. “They’re taking a bold step for their first trip.” Kristen hopes that her teammates will continue to involve themselves in COTN’s ministry because of the impact the trip will have on them.

Two of these team members are firefighters, and it will be primarily their responsibility to accomplish the trip’s other main goal—teaching fire safety courses.

“For you to come and teach about fire safety is an answer to prayer,” said Rev. Angie. “In the city of Freetown this year, we have seen so many houses burned down with loss of life… and we have had several incidences of villages burning down.”

“Do you know,” she continued, “because of my fear of fire, we have stopped using kerosene lamps in the homes. Instead, we are using battery-operated lamps as a safety precaution.”

The team intends to have several members teach fire safety to the children during school while others work on the playground. “Since we have such a large team,” Kristen said, “we can divide and conquer a bit.” They also plan to travel to surrounding villages to hold more in-depth fire safety courses for adults, explaining, for instance, that cooking with fire indoors is dangerous because of the likelihood of smoke inhalation.

If you have skills or experience that you think would benefit our ministry consider organizing your own Venture Team to one of our countries.