SIERRA LEONE: 48 Street Chidren Reunited with Familes After Completing Program
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Fambul, located in Sierra Leone’s capital city of Freetown, is one of the country’s leading child-welfare organizations and has been on the forefront of efforts to help rehabilitate street children and reunite them with their families. This year, 48 street youth who met Father Angel Fernandez Artime during his visit to Sierra Leone in January 2016, have been finally reunited with their families. The boys, aged 8 to 15, were taken from the streets of Freetown and underwent eight months of Don Bosco Fambul’s rehabilitation process.
The success of this program is credited to Don Bosco Fambul’s holistic approach focusing on attending to basic needs (food, clothing, a safe place to sleep) as well as personalized medical, psychological, pedagogical, social and spiritual care of the children. This gradual process includes formal classes, daily games, sports, music, singing, drama, dancing, counseling and prayer. Their parents and extended families are contacted several times by social workers before final reunification.
On reunification day, an agreement is signed between parents and Don Bosco Fambul in order to secure a safe environment for the child to continue his personal growth including ensuring the youth will have the food, clothing, shelter and education they need. Social workers continue to visit the youth and their families until they finish secondary school.
“Education helps break the cycle of violence and poverty,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “This program helps youth come in off the streets where they face poverty and are at-risk for exploitation, and have a chance at a better life. The aim is to help them live safely while getting the emotional support they need and the education that will help them live independently.”
In September, five Salesian missionaries and 25 social workers and junior staff at Don Bosco Fambul visited the streets of Freetown in five different areas of the capital city from 8:00 pm to 3:00 am to contact both boys and girls living on the streets in order to help them understand the services available to them. Special questionnaires were also prepared to conduct a deeper assessment of the reality of street youth exactly one year after the Ebola pandemic ended.
From October to December, a pilot rehabilitation project is working with a group of 30 street youth who are at high risk on the streets. They will be reunited with their families on December 30 after an intensive rehabilitation program. The aim of the pilot project is to speed up the process of reintegration of the children with their biological or extended families.
According to the World Bank, more than 60 percent of Sierra Leone’s population live in poverty with many living on less than $1.25 per day. The literacy rate is only 41 percent and 70 percent of young people in Sierra Leone are unemployed or underemployed as a result. The country was hard hit by the Ebola crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that there were more than 14,124 total cases of Ebola and 3,956 deaths from the virus in Sierra Leone alone. Don Bosco Fambul was on the forefront of efforts to help prevent Ebola in communities throughout Sierra Leone and provide care for children left orphaned by the deadly epidemic. The organization recently received Sierra Leone’s Presidential Award in recognition of its contribution in fighting Ebola.
World Bank – Sierra Leone
World Health Organization – Ebola Stats
(Photo courtesy of ANS)