Hello from Sierra Leone

UA grad supports farm sustenance programs

Kethia Kong,
Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando, center in back, works with local partners to develop a tool to measure the effectiveness of farm programs in Sierra Leone. / photo courtesy of Anthony Orlando

Since graduating from the University of Arizona, Anthony Orlando ’13 has dedicated his life to helping others. It’s a journey that has taken him across three continents in just five years, with stints in China, Malawi and Sierra Leone. 

“I always joke that I know what it’s like to be out of your comfort zone and be confused all the time,” Orlando says. “But you can’t be afraid of the unknown.” 

Most recently, Orlando lived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he worked as a consultant for WARC Group, helping people move from subsistence farming to profitable commercial agriculture. 

“The general idea is to train people to be self-sufficient farmers, then transition them to be successful on their home plot,” he says. 

As part of the process, Orlando designs training programs that teach locals how to use farm machinery. The trainees also earn a small salary to purchase milled rice produced by a local women’s group. Farmers use the rice to feed their chickens, producing eggs to sell to their local community. 

In a country where 96 percent of farmers are below subsistence level and cannot grow enough food to feed their families, Orlando’s work has begun to spark change. 

“I’ve always wanted to contribute to the world by making it a better place to live,” says Orlando. “The work I do now is fast-paced and very often frustrating, but one that I’ve found to be incredibly fulfilling.”

In his free time, he made sure to get to know Sierra Leone touring by motorcycle and visiting beautiful beaches.

This fall, Orlando starts a master’s program in foreign service at Georgetown University.