This beautiful, peaceful island is 4 miles square. It sits in the middle of the Sierra Leone River Estuary, only an hour by boat from Freetown
Despite its proximity to the Capital of Sierra Leone, Tasso is a forgotten island. Its people are poor and survive only by fishing and the coastal mangrove forests of the island are threatened by rising sea level.
There are four main towns on the island:
And our camp at Kissi:
In 2016, Planning Green Futures Ltd carried out a feasibility study to bring ecotourism to the island as a new source of livelihood. The plan was taken up by the Gladi-Gladi Trust, (meaning Rejoicing and Celebration in Krio). The Trust has spent £30,000 building, equipping and training the local staff to run the camp with the goal of providing an experience of international quality.
The camp has been open for visitors since May 2017.
The Island escaped the ravages of Ebola due to its isolation but it nevertheless experiences considerable hardships. It has no hospital and the clinic operates from a private house.
The main occupation is fishing. Many of the fishing grounds have been put out of reach by the dredging of deep water channels, due to development of the Iron-Ore industry.
Three Primary schools exist, one of which is funded largely by the community. There is also a Junior Secondary School in Tasso. However, children have to leave the island to pursue senior secondary education in Freetown.
The Island soils are sandy and dry out rapidly after the rains. Crops of pineapples, coconut, palm oil and cashew grow well and there is scope for increasing productivity.
Water is obtained from hand dug wells but it is salty and often contaminated. Typhoid and Cholera threaten the lives of children and the island has only one nurse.
Islanders follow Islam and/or animist beliefs and there is also a small Christian group. Religion is closely bound up with cultural practices. Each village has its own Mosque. It is common for all formal meetings to begin with prayers (for all faiths).
The island is entirely peaceful and is completely unaffected by the ethnic and religious tensions that now exist in many parts of the world. However, it is important that our visitors respect the space and privacy of individuals and families in the villages which they visit. Until the Kissy Camp opened in March 2016, fewer than 10 outsiders a year visited the island.
"Pikins" (Children aged 2 - 8) are incredibly friendly and will cry out "Oporto - Oporto" (meaning "Hello white person") whenever they see visitors. This, in itself, is a remarkable throw-back to the first 17th century explorers, the Portuguese.