Following the Fellows: Rogan Quinn in Sierra Leone


By roganquinn

Sahr David Kpakiwa: a friend, a guide and a mentor.

At a young age, the local political opposition burned his house to the ground and his family fled the country. Ten years later, many of David’s family members separated, some ending up in the United States and others moving back to Sierra Leone.

It was not long after returning home that a civil war drove him to Freetown. After the war, David returned to Kono with the help of his brother, who purchased a 15-acre farm for himself and his siblings.

When I met David, he was growing an abundance of staple crops and flowers from Freetown.

Having no formal education past the age of 10, David taught himself to read. He speaks fluent English, he is well versed in philosophy and remains a respected member of the local community.

As an entrepreneur, David has decorated local businesses and friends’ homes with beautiful flowers to create an income and bring beauty back to Kono. He is a marketable businessman with potential to advance his trade and create sustainable development.

He and I worked together on a scalable plan that, if successful, could become an attractive place for microfinance or industrial farmers to invest in the district – the first private, locally run nursery in Kono.

After just six months, the nursery is the home to over 2,000 germinated orange, tangerine, grapefruit, mango, avocado and palm nut trees.

It sits next to David’s well, where he can pull up water to efficiently water his saplings. This nursery will provide David with both short- and long-term financial opportunities.

In the first year, David can sell individual saplings at the market price of $0.75 or plant them on his own land to yield between $5 and $10, for each tree in 5 to 10 years, respectively.

David can plant 60 trees per acre without seriously interfering with his crop yields until the trees begin fruiting.

During my time in Sierra Leone, I took away more than I left with David.

He taught me some of life’s most important lessons. He taught me how strong one can be throughout life’s most difficult challenges.

David is an example of someone who has conquered strife with resilience, overcome obstacles with innovation and replaced destruction with beauty.

David serves as only one of many examples of how individuals are waiting for people to help them invest in their local communities to create organic growth and development.

To hear more about my experience with David, visit my blog:


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