Child Care Centre (CCC) is a programme that shelter children who due to misplacement of money (one dollar) or loss of the items that were given to them to sell whereby are afraid to return back home end up choosing to stay on the street. However, with the help of our social workers we visit these boys in the night at the market places, street corners, etc. counselling them to stay off the street, better still visit our centre for a rehabilitation programme for about five months. About 50 boys are recruited into our shelter and we provide for them psycho-social support that every child needs. This last for nine months before we eventually reunify them with their parents or family members.
The sexual exploitation of girls as well as young women thrives due to harsh economic realities of many families. Parents send their daughter away as prostitutes in order to secure the family' livelihood, hence causing a viscous cycle of sexual abuse by the father, family members and even neighbours. On account of the disaster DBF set up a home to shelter girls that find themselves in such a situation - to protect them from the perpetrators.
The Creole word “Girls-Os” (girls home) is supposed to stand for a nonviolent contact and advice centre in Freetown for girls and young women aged between 8 and 17 years. Due to the fact that the majority of the girls and young women we address are in difficult life situations, i.e. they are homeless, mostly consume drugs, have been experiencing violence or abuse, the Girls Shelter was designed as a retreat and protection area. Around the clock the Girls Shelter offers basic supply and care, like food and drink, showers and laundry facilities, a place to retreat and sleep, and above all opportunities for talking and getting into contact with others. Every day, every hour, time after time – without fear and humiliation. Advice and support: whenever you need it and want it. Target is the reunification with the family of origin including support measures by Don Bosco Fambul or the introduction in a foster family who has been trained and accompanied by Don Bosco Fambul.
The Girls Shelter is made up of four fundamental components or activities:
Girls whose life situations have stabilised to some extent continue to be accompanied by professional female social workers. The management and the staff of the projects keep complaining about the great need for professional help for girls living on the streets. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs as well as organisations like UNICEF encourage Don Bosco Fambul to stay active in this field.
Is a programme with a Bus that goes around Freetown Municipalities talking to teenagers who are on the street to return back to their families. Nevertheless, the rebel movement RUF, also state militia recruited thousands of children, drugged them and made them commit most horrific crimes. Today these young people are traumatised, living in a country where the daily events are still determined by the after-effects of the war. It is particularly extreme poverty, hunger and diseases that are concurrent causes of the gravest human rights violations against children and youth. For years now the former British colony has been ranking one of the last on the list of the UNDP (Human Development Index: rank 180 of 182 examined countries)
The project Don Bosco Mobil provides for all the street children in Freetown counselling and attendance in accordance with their individual needs in selected slum areas. Primary target are emergency assistance and the counselling of street children. The additional aim emerging from the initial contact is the street child’s reintegration into its family of origin and extended family or foster family respectively. To pursue these aims, the department Don Bosco Mobil is in close contact with the CCC department of Don Bosco Fambul. Follow-up visits paid to the families are to guarantee that the help be sustainable in the long run.
During our street work Salesians and staff have discovered a big number of underage girls who are working as sexual workers. They are aged 9 to 17 and work as prostitutes on the streets of Freetown, at markets, brothels and night clubs. Most of them are unaware of the terrible dangers involved in this activity. They are “used”, “abused” and “discarded” by adults and even the police. Our social workers doing street work have discovered that young girls offer their services for 10,000 SLL (1 and ½ USD) or 20,000 USD (almost 3 USD) for having protected or unprotected sex respectively. Some of the girls come from other countries, others from villages and from the poorest areas of Freetown itself.
The main reason of their presence in the streets during the night is poverty: they want to help financially their families. We have seen that several of them are Senior Secondary School and even university students who are searching for money to pay schools fees. In several occasions, you find children who have been literally cheated, as they were offered work as maids or waiters in Freetown and ended up working as sexual workers in night clubs and bars. The majority of them are sick, even though unaware of their health condition. A considerable number of them have contracted sexual transmitted diseases, AIDS, hepatitis B and C and other sicknesses, like tuberculosis and kidney related illnesses. The majority of them are unaware of the dangers of having unprotected sex with a stranger. After 2 weeks of street work in September 2016, we have taken out of the streets 5 girls aged 9, 12, 14, 15 and 17 who are active sexual workers in the streets of Freetown. All of them were found in very poor health conditions and when invited to go to the hospital, they immediately accepted. Some of them have been diagnosed with AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhoea in advance stage.
The main aim of programme (GO+) is to reach out to underage girls who are involved in a situation of prostitution (aged 9 to 17) and to take them out of the streets, offering a safe environment where holistic rehabilitation and healing is carried out (physical, psychologically, spiritual, morally and socially). The final aim is for them to recover their dignity through empowerment (education – skills training) and reintegrating them to the community (village and family life, society and world of work). A future of hope and joy is opened to them.
The main components of GS programme remain unmodified in GO+
You may ask 'why the prison?!' The perpetrators of crimes against our daughters are helped? Let's not forget that not all those in prison are guilty of their crimes. We realized that there are needs and a lot to be done in the Pademba Prison as it is called. This comes in form of providing emergency medical assistance, counselling, feeding to the sick and skinny ones. Furthermore, we help to pay court bills of inmates who cannot afford it. In the line of being open to new frontiers the Salesians in Sierra Leone commit themselves in reaching out to young people in prisons.
Aims-objectives: to offer them help for their primary needs (feeding, washing, caring for their medical-dental health), psychological needs, spiritual needs (educating them to human and religious values), legal support to seek for their freedom, offering them personal advice, tracing their families, reunifying them and helping them to get re-inserted in their families and in society. Helping them to recovering hope and “meaning” in their lives.
Why is this apostolate/programme important for our community? What kind of service render to the prisoners? Does it make any impact in their lives? In Which sense?
There is a deep impact in their lives, even from a spiritual point of view: sharing the Word of God to them in the Eucharist and preparation of baptism; caring for the sick inmates feeding those who are malnourished. We target the poorest of the poor in our society (feeling abandoned, lonely, guilty, without redemption…) We are in the heart of our Salesian Mission. Moreover, it has been assumed by the community. We ALL participate in this programme (Mass on Fridays) The inmates can see the witness of a prayerful and united community, which prays with them and for them. The main beneficiaries are selected from among all prisoners: the younger ones (20 years average) and we try to cover primary needs. We select the weakest, the sick, the malnourished, the downhearted. It offers them new hope and meaning in their lives. They receive food assistance (nutritive extra food), medical care (medicines, possibility of undergoing operations, dental treatment, etc), personal and group counselling, clothing (T-shirts & sandals), hygiene kits and the opportunity of having a bath. Most important among all is the legal advice and support offered to some of the prisoners, especially the youngest ones. Even though, the service is not permanent due to lack of funds, some cases were resolved positively and inmates were freed.
However, family tracing has been done in some cases with success and a re-unification process achieved. It could be very helpful to organize regular visitations to the freed inmates to follow up their reintegration process (family, work, society, other institutions). Some freed inmates have been helped with packages for studies or skills training. We should consider few cases of younger inmates who could be integrated in our programme “group homes”, etc. Some inmates have said it literally: “I am alive thanks to Don Bosco”.
Legal Support: PPP had successfully sought local partners for collaboration in the field of legal advice and support. Through the support of Legal Aid Board many teenagers have been released at the beginning of the project. Later on, the focus shifted to inmates who were waiting for their indictment documents for more than three years (79 of them). A good number of these inmates were released. Furthermore, an agreement with the Justice & Peace commission (Caritas) of the Archdiocese of Freetown was signed in relation to the legal services and counselling of inmates. Other partners in the last two years have been “Defence for Children SL”, “Amnesty International SL”, and “Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law” (CARL SL). PPP had also worked together with the Minister of Justice (MoJ)/Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children´s Affairs (MSWGCA). The MSWGCA has always received an up-dated list of minor inmates. They finally contacted the DPP and the courts for transfer of minors to Approved School or Juvenile Remand Home.
Establishing a professional, country-wide, free of cost and at any time accessible counselling service for young people that aims at:
I) Preventive health care, not only in the medical, but also in the psycho-social field;
II) Aid in difficult life situations ensured by:
The target group are young people especially students, skills training pupils that are affected by the out-break or suffers the effects of Ebola who leave in Freetown, Port-Loko district, Lusar, Maken, Kambia and Bo. The virus has caused hunger, dropped out from schools, and other sickness due to the fear of going to the hospital thus increasing the rate of death in the nation. Therefore, the safety standard of measures on health issues is not there which makes the people to lack the awareness of taking care of their health. It also results to unmeant psychosocial needs which is leads to poor coverage of counselling; disregarding the basic needs of the people.
Note: The campaign and concept is to develop strategies that will enable the implementation of the following: