Celebrating 17 Years of Impact: Aurora Foundation’s Journey in Sierra Leone

23.01.24

Dear Aurora Foundation Supporters, Stakeholders, and Followers,

Today, on the 23rd of January 2024, we are filled with immense gratitude and pride as we celebrate the 17th anniversary of Aurora Foundation. Established in 2007 with the generous contributions of our founders, Ingibjörg Kristjánsdóttir and Ólafur Ólafsson, Aurora Foundation has been a beacon of hope, creativity, and transformation.

Aurora Foundation believes in the free and creative spirit of the mind, aiming to nurture and cultivate this spirit to improve and enrich people’s lives. Our journey began with projects like the Kraumur Music Fund and Honnunarsjodur Auroru, supporting young musicians and various creative ventures in Iceland. However, our focus shifted to Sierra Leone, a country with immense potential but in dire need of development.

In Sierra Leone, where life expectancy stood at one of the lowest in the world, we identified the gaps and started working towards building a better future. Over the years, Aurora Foundation has made significant strides, building 70 schools, executing teacher training programs for 300 teachers, and implementing projects like microfinancing initiatives through two Microcredit institutions in Sierra Leone. The first agreements were done at the end of 2014 at the height of Ebola. The second one was done in 2015 with Grassroot Gender Empowerment Movement (GGEM) and many thousands of individuals and small companies have benefitted from that collaboration.

One of our notable achievements was the sanitation project in Funkia Goderich in 2016, improving the sanitary conditions by constructing toilets, showers, and a new sewage canal. In 2016 and 2017, we collaborated with partners to provide free ICT courses to 260 young individuals, offering them not just knowledge but also free laptops.

Since 2017, Aurora Foundation has evolved into four core projects in Sierra Leone, each contributing to the holistic development of the communities we serve.

1. Aurora Impact: Empowering the Youth

Following the successful ICT training, Aurora Impact emerged as a core project to support Sierra Leone’s youth. With a 10-month training program for startups, business development training, mentorships, and partnerships, we aim to empower young minds. In 2023, we secured a partnership with the UNDP Growth Accelerator program, actively engaging and supporting women-led MSMEs across Sierra Leone.

2. Sweet Salone: A Bilateral Design Initiative

Celebrating Sierra Leone’s rich craft making tradition, Sweet Salone is a collaboration between global designers and Sierra Leonean craftspeople. This project not only creates fair job opportunities but also sustains traditional craft making skills. Our products are now sold globally, from our web shop to pop-up markets in Sierra Leone and Iceland, boutiques in London, and B2B in Holland.

3. Lettie Stuart Pottery Center and School: Nurturing Creativity

Supporting the Lettie Stuart Pottery Center in Campbell town, we’ve remodeled the center, initiated a solar power system, and implemented an 18-month pottery school program. Graduates become part of the Lettie Stuart pottery family, and we are committed to making the center fully operational and sustainable in the next 2-3 years.

4. Aurora Music Project: Harmonizing Cultures

Our music project brought together musicians from Sierra Leone, Iceland, and the UK, resulting in the creation of 25 songs. Twelve of these songs were released through the record label OkayAfrica in the UK, available on Spotify under the name OSUSU. Aurora also supported the Freetown Music Festival, showcasing the vibrancy of Sierra Leonean arts and crafts.

In addition to these core projects, our side projects, including the School Feeding Project, Magbenteh Boarding School, Makeni, and numerous collaborations and events within the creative sector, including Tellem, House of Salone, and the Ben Franklin upcycle fashion shows, among many, have left a lasting impact on the communities we serve.

As we reflect on our journey, filled with accomplishments and challenges, we extend our heartfelt thanks to all our stakeholders, supporters, and followers. Your unwavering support has been instrumental in making a difference in the lives of many.

Looking ahead, we are inspired to continue our mission, fueled by the creative spirit that defines Aurora Foundation. Together, let’s build a future where opportunities are boundless, and communities thrive.

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