Bella runs for the Ebola dead she knew

Bella Tristram of Hainton with school children at a school in Sierra Leone
Bella Tristram of Hainton with school children at a school in Sierra Leone

After working in West Africa, where she trained teachers and other professionals, Bella Tristram just had to help Sierra Leone cope with the ebola crisis.

Bella is a projects and research officer for Child to Child, an organisation that works on education projects in West Africa.

The 30-year-old has made four trips to Sierra Leone in the past two years, one of which lasted three months, training staff at a child-focussed charity to help disadvantaged youth.

Her mission is part of a £1.2 million Comic Relief initiative to create a community-based model of pre-school education and help ensure children attend school.

Now, safely back in Lincolnshire, Bella divides her time between working from home and being in London with Child to Child.

“Sadly, I learned in August that several of the primary school teachers, one headteacher and many children I had worked with have died of Ebola. All schools are closed in Sierra Leone and now we are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of orphans and child rape. I speak to my colleagues in Sierra Leone every week and the stories are heartbreaking,” she said.

“I decided to do my bit and run the 10km Rasen race to raise funds to help some of the poorest children on the planet affected by the Ebola Outbreak.” So far she has raised £785 (£905 including Giftaid).

Bella, who went to De Aston School, credits the school with giving her the urge to use drama to spread educational messages, as well as develop a passion for humanitarian assistance and improving education in extremely poor countries.

This led her 10 years ago to go to Azerbaijan to use theatre to help refugees develop drama activities to tell their stories. More recently, working for Child to Child, Bella gained a Master’s Degree with the Institute of Education in London.

“I do LOVE going to Sierra Leone. The facilities might be basic but I enjoy living on the edge of my comfort zone and the people in Sierra Leone are so warm, I have never had any trouble when I was there,” she added.

Anyone wishing to help Bella’s cause can give via her website, mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/bellatristram