by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65)
Cindy Nofziger’s personal journey went from being a Peace Corps Volunteer at a leprosy hospital in Sierra Leone, West Africa, from 1985 to 1987 to subsequently founding “Schools for Salone” to help rebuild the national educational structure that had been destroyed by the country’s civil war that lasted from 1991-2001.
In 2005, Cindy returned to Sierra Leone (also known as ‘Salone’) for the first time it was possible to do so since the end of the decade-long civil war.nThe civil war had rolled back all educational gains. Rural communities like Masanga, Cindy’s old site, were the worst hit. Schools were destroyed, or they just weren’t being built.
While there, she reconnected with an old friend, John Sesay, from the 1980s. John asked Cindy to help build a community school, and . . . thus, Schools for Salone (SfS) was born. Since then, SfS has expanded access to education through partnerships with Programme for Children, the Learning Foundation, and Uman Tok.
SFS has reached into three regions, including the Western Area and Northern and Southern Provinces. They build structures and leave, and then monitors performance and supports teacher training. What started as one women’s act of service is now a mission shared by a dedicated community of Americans and Sierra Leonean supporters and Board Members. Cindy is an active inspiration to all who meet and join her on this journey.
In April 2022, she cut the ribbon on school building #42, funded by the Mona Foundation and a Los Angeles Board Member. Before that school was built in Masosingbi, students walked four miles to get to class, a journey that became more treacherous during the rains. The new SfS means relief and access to quality education for students.
Since November 2005, SfS has constructed 42 schools, 3 libraries, built 12 water wells, sent 24,000 books to Sierra Leone, benefiting thousands of children, and provided thousands of scholarships to children from low income families. Its “Uman Tok” team produces “Days for Girls” sustainable menstruation kits in Freetown for girls and women and provides reproductive health education to all in its communities.
In September, SfS hosted its annual fundraising gala in Seattle, Washington, to share its impact with donors and secure more funding to develop educational programs. On average, it costs $50,000 to build and equip a school. Teacher training and certification costs $300 a year, and the same amount covers a full scholarship for one child. For every donated dollar, $0.80 goes to build more schools, train more teachers, and give the gift of learning to one child in need. The remainder is spent on fundraising, communications, and administration.
Cindy has shown that one person can make a difference. In recognition of ordinary person doing extraordinary things for others, she received the Jefferson Award from the City Club of Seattle, Washington in 2012 .
In consideration for Cindy’s significant and consistent adherence to Peace Corps 3rd Goal, she has well-earned a Profile in Citizenship.