SIERRA LEONE: Program for girls facing abuse honored
Don Bosco Fambul receives Spanish ‘Solidarity Project Award’ for work with girls facing abuse
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Fambul, one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations and located in Freetown, has received the “Solidarity Project Award” from the Spanish daily newspaper ABC. Don Bosco Fambul receives the support of the Salesian Missions Office in Madrid, and this partnership is highlighted in the award. Don Bosco Fambul has been awarded 40,000 euros.
Don Bosco Fambul won for the Girls Os+ program, which provides support and recovery for underage girls who are victims of sexual violence and abuse and forced into prostitution. Since the program was launched five years ago, it has changed the lives of more than 600 girls and given them the opportunity to start a new life and access education.
The project began by accident when Father Jorge Crisafulli asked a group of underage girls forced to be prostitutes on the streets if they wanted to change their lives. He was able to create a new program inside an already thriving organization. Don Bosco Fambul has a staff of 120, including Salesian social workers who go out to the streets, slums and marketplaces. They engage with vulnerable youth and encourage them to join Don Bosco Fambul’s successful programs.
To support the Girls Os+ program, Don Bosco Fambul launched a therapeutic center with four large buildings, a clinic, accommodations for volunteers and social workers, a house for the Salesian community, and a chapel. It’s the only program of its kind in West Africa that enables girls to live in a safe environment to overcome their traumas and start a new life.
Salesian missionaries, 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 services at the shelter are also able to attend educational programs that are a part of the broader Don Bosco Fambul network of programs. These educational programs give young women the skills necessary to find and retain employment.
“I am very grateful for this award, which gives recognition to all the work behind it including support from Salesian Missions in Madrid, social workers, nurses, and psychotherapists. It is a daily miracle to see these girls come back and smile. This means that they have overcome their traumas and are working on leading full lives,” said Fr. Crisafulli.
In 2018, Salesian Missions Madrid produced the documentary “Love” which showed the work of Don Bosco Fambul’s efforts to help these young women. Fr. Crisafulli said, “We succeeded in getting the minors to be seen for what they are, victims and not perpetrators. Thanks to the documentary and the testimony of young women at European institutions, Sierra Leone’s president decreed a national emergency on child sexual abuse, and laws were changed in the country to benefit and protect young victims.”
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