SPAIN: San Juan Bosco Salesian Institute launches campaign to bring awareness of girls caught in prostitution in Sierra Leone
(MissionNewswire) In October, the San Juan Bosco Salesian Institute in Valencia, Spain developed the campaign, “First the last,” which aims to bring awareness of and support to girls forced into prostitution that are a part of Don Bosco Fambul’s Girls Shelter in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The campaign is mobilizing the entire educational community around the cause.
Youth engaged in the “First the last” campaign planned all of the campaign activities including awareness-raising courses and a screening of a documentary film called, “Love,” directed by Goya prize winner, Raúl de la Fuente. The film captures the work of Salesian missionaries in Freetown who are helping hundreds of girls who were forced into prostitution by poverty or neglect.
On World Mission Day on Oct. 21, the campaign was presented at a Catholic service at the local Salesian parish in Valencia. Youth designed and sold bracelets with the words, “Primero las últimas – #LOVE?” The final proceeds of the sale of the bracelets – almost 1,200 euros – will go entirely to the Girls Shelter in Freetown.
The campaign has also grown to include third- and fourth-year English language students who are offering support for the girls by writing and sending them letters. While many of the campaign activities raised money for the Girls Shelter, the letters brought messages of support, empathy and solidarity to the girls of Sierra Leone.
In addition, the campaign coordination team created a 3D mural at the entrance to San Juan Bosco Salesian Institute and students recorded a video using background images from the “Love” documentary. The entire community plans to organize a musical for next April and to allocate all the proceeds from the musical to the Girls Shelter.
Don Bosco Fambul is one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations and has been helping young women caught up in prostitution come in off the streets. Father Jorge Crisafulli launched the program out of Don Bosco Fambul’s Girls Shelter in September 2016 with the aim of searching for girls in their workplaces where they are surrounded by alcohol and drugs and at risk of danger and exploitation. The program offers them shelter, health, nutrition, education and wherever possible, reintegrates them back into their families.
Close to 200,000 young girls and older women were sexually assaulted during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war, according to UNICEF. And although the war has stopped, the sexual violence against women continues. Young women are at risk for sexual violence, trafficking and forced pregnancy, among other atrocities. Today, one third of girls are forced into marriage and often sexually assaulted by their husbands before their 15th birthday. In addition, 90 percent of girls are subjected to female genital mutilation. The Girls Shelter, which has been in operation for five years, was developed in response to this crisis.
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 the shelter services 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.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)