SIERRA LEONE: Young girl and baby rescued by Don Bosco Fambul have hope for a better, more secure future
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have been serving in Sierra Leone since 2001 when they began working to rehabilitate former child soldiers. In the years since, Don Bosco Fambul, located in the country’s capital city of Freetown, has become one of the Sierra Leone’s leading child welfare organizations offering food, clothing, crisis intervention services, shelter, educational opportunities, long-term counseling and family reunification.
Don Bosco Fambul, which has a 120-person staff that includes mostly social workers, reaches out to thousands of street children in the region each year. The organization has implemented several interventions for children who have been abandoned, experienced violence and abuse and/or have found themselves in situations of prostitution.
Father Jorge Crisafulli, director of Don Bosco Fambul, found Musu on the street under a table in the center of Freetown when she was just a child. It was raining heavily and was cold for those accustomed to the tropical heat. He asked Musu her name and if she was sick. Her sad eyes and the pain in her face announced deeper anguish than just physical pain. She coughed incessantly. Father Crisafulli put his hand on her forehead and noticed that she was burning with fever.
Musu told Fr. Crisafulli that she had gone to the hospital but since she did not have 15,000 leones (about 1.5 euros), she had not been treated. Father Crisafulli told Musu that he would take her to the hospital immediately. It was then that Musu put her hand on a helpless, skeletal, near death baby boy next to her.
Father Crisafulli accompanied Musu and the baby to the General Hospital where she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and pneumonia. The baby was unable to be treated at the hospital so was taken to another. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis, dehydration and malnutrition. When the doctor asked for a name to register the child in the health center, Fr. Crisafulli did not hesitate for a moment. He named him Juan Bosco in honor of the Salesian founder, St. John Bosco.
When Fr. Crisafulli returned to the General Hospital he assured Musu that the child was well and would survive. He also told her that he had been asked the name of the child to be able to register him at the hospital and that he had given him the name Juan Bosco. Musu seemed annoyed with the name, but when asked, she told Fr. Crisafulli, “You should have given him your name Jorge Crisafulli!”
Today, Musu and Juan Bosco are in good health. Both have overcome their health problems and are thriving. Musu is now 18 years old and studies as a hairdresser and sells sandals while little Juan Bosco is a healthy and smiling boy who honors his name, runs everywhere and serves as a beacon of resistance, survival and hope in the face of adversity. Musu and Juan Bosco are two of the many success stories of the work that Don Bosco Fambul does on behalf of poor and at-risk youth in Sierra Leone.
The UN World Food Program reports that over half of the population in Sierra Leone lives under the national poverty line of approximately $2 per day. According to the 2016 Global Hunger Index, Sierra Leone also faces an alarming level of hunger with nearly 38 percent of children younger than 5 years of age suffering from chronic malnutrition.
Young people face significant challenges in accessing education. With too few teachers and school buildings destroyed in the war, resources are thin and persistently high illiteracy rates mean that an estimated 70 percent of Sierra Leone’s youth are un- or under-employed.
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World Food Program – Sierra Leone