SIERRA LEONE: Assisting Families Affected by Recent Fire in Angola Town Slum
(MissionNewswire) On the evening of Thursday, Dec. 1, a fire outbreak completely destroyed “Angola Town,” a slum located in front of Don Bosco Fambul, one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations located in Freetown, the country’s capital city. The slum served as a residence for 300 families and close to 1,500 people, most of them disadvantaged children and older youth. Don Bosco Fambul, which stands just a street away from the slum, was unharmed during the fire.
Salesian missionaries on the ground in Freetown report that firemen attributed the fire to an electrical fault or an unattended fire that spread. Strong winds and lack of access to the slums made it impossible for firemen to stop the fire, which destroyed the slum in just two hours. Salesian missionaries from Don Bosco Fambul immediately began providing humanitarian relief offering shelter, food and medical support to those affected.
Don Bosco Fambul is currently providing shelter to 225 children ranging in age from one week to 17 years old as well as 85 mothers, most of with toddlers, who lost their homes as a result of the fire. Five Salesian missionaries and 30 staff offer continuous care to the people seeking refuge at the Salesian organization.
“The people of Sierra Leone have suffered so much already from the civil war and the terrible Ebola outbreak, which killed thousands and left thousands of children orphaned,” says Father Jorge Crisafulli, provincial of the Salesians in English-speaking West Africa. “This new catastrophe puts a portion of its population to the test once again. This time again, with the help of God and Don Bosco Fambul, the people will stand and walk towards a future of hope.”
Don Bosco Fambul was among the first responders during the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, providing education about the spread of the disease, a free hotline for prevention information, distribution of cleaning and sanitation supplies, and caring for children left orphaned. The organization took on these responsibilities in addition to regularly providing crisis intervention services, long-term counseling, shelter, nutritious food and education to poor and at-risk youth.
Don Bosco Fambul reaches out to an estimated 2,500 street children in the region each year, many of whom have been abandoned by their parents, the government and those who were supposed to protect them. Don Bosco Fambul staff is also active in providing services to young prisoners at the Pademba Road Prison in Freetown.
In addition, the organization operates a girls shelter where professional social workers and pastoral workers provide crisis intervention and follow-up care for girls and young women who have been victims of sexual assault. Girls that access the shelter’s services are also able to attend educational programs that are a part of the broader Don Bosco Fambul network.
(Photo courtesy ANS)