The Child Reintegration Centre (formerly Child Rescue Centre) held an Attachment Theory workshop organized by CRC counselors Emmanuel and Assiatu. Attachment theory addresses the creation of strong, healthy emotional bonds between parents and their children.
Fifty parents of CRC students were invited to attend the conference, where they learned strategies for strengthening the bond with their children and developing healthy family relationships.
The typical child enrolled in a CRC program has experienced the deprivation of extreme poverty and many have been traumatized by losing parents and other family members. The counselors coached the parents in communication skills, and encouraged them to develop open and honest dialogue with their children to help them heal from trauma or emotional distress.
CRC parent Agnes Boma said it has been difficult for her to develop a close relationship with her teenage daughter, and she appreciated what she learned at the workshop. "From what I learnt from the workshop I will create a bond between myself and my daughter," she said. "I will encourage her to confide in me."
When Fatmata, age 22, came to her appointment at Mercy Hospital's prenatal clinic, she had a very high fever and was vomiting. Diagnosed with severe malaria, she was admitted and treated with anti-malarial injections. By the end of the day, Fatmata was much improved and was released from care.
Pregnant women are at high risk of dying from the complications of severe malaria. Malaria may also cause spontaneous abortion, premature delivery, or stillbirth, and is responsible for about one third of preventable low birth weight babies.
Shortly after being discharged, Fatmata returned to the hospital in labor and delivered a healthy baby girl. "I especially appreciate the maternity staff for their hard work," Fatmata said. The patient says she chose Mercy because she had attended the hospital's prenatal clinic for her previous pregnancies.
Mariatu, age 37, collapsed into unconsciousness and was brought to the hospital by her family, where she was diagnosed with severe anemia caused by malaria. She received a blood transfusion of two whole units and antimalarial drugs. Mariatu made a full recovery and was released. "Words cannot express how happy I am," Mariatu says. "I really appreciate the team work."
Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of malaria infection in the world. The country's entire population is at risk of the disease and it is one of the leading causes of death and illness. Young children are particularly susceptible to infection, illness and death from malaria, which contributes to close to twenty percent of child mortality. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has committed to reducing new cases of the disease up to 40 percent by 2020, which will require dedicated action from government, partners, health workers, and communities.
The CRC is proud to announce that Finance Manager Lucy Jusu had graduated with a Bachelors degree in Accounting and Finance from the Royal College of Theology and Administration, under KEISIE International University.
Lucy is an original CRC employee, having joined the staff in 2000 as an administrative assistant. In 2014, Lucy was promoted to Business Manager, and once more promoted to Finance Manager in 2018.
In 2016, Lucy was awarded a Ginny Wagner scholarship to pursue a university degree, named for the former Executive Director of Helping Children Worldwide.
"Dreams die slowly when opportunities are absent," Lucy says. "This was the dream I had but the realization of this heavenly dream was actualized by the divine intervention of the Ginny Wagner Scholarship Program.”
Child Welfare Programs Liaison Mohamed Nabieu represented HCW at World Without Orphans' global forum in Chiang Mai, Thailand last month. WWO's mission is helping children remain in, be reunited with, or regain a healthy family, so that they can reach their God-given purpose. As a "care leaver" (someone who grew up in an orphanage) Mohamed was a featured speaker at the conference. In addition to presenting as a care leaver, Nabs was a co-presenter with Andrew Schneidler of 1MillionHome, sharing the Child Reintegration Centre's experience transitioning from an institutional model of care to a family-based model. HCW/CRC is a globally recognized leader in care reform and in how to transition to family-based care.
"Keeping families together should play a pivotal role in childcare. Family is firmly entrenched into our bloodlines and DNA, and it is through a family that secure attachment and healthy relationships are born," Mohamed told the attendees. "Poverty being the driving force for separating families, taking children and putting them into orphanages just deepens the separation by adding emotional and psychological aftermath to it. Part of God's design, families as natural systems, are meant to uphold each other through both favorable and odd seasons. With poverty and other crisis, orphanages or institutions for children should not take the lead as the only and ongoing solution."
"Families may be poor in providing the materialistic support to their children, but they are rich in providing genuine love to them. Our role as leaders is to partner with them for their success at all levels," he concluded. HCW is collaborating with WWO and other child-focused organizations to support the global movement to help children grow up in caring families, instead of institutions.
Attendees learned strategies for family reintegration and preparation of foster and adoptive families, as well as case management tools for assessing children's well-being.
At a medical outreach clinic in Kahungabu Village, the Mercy team encountered Amos, a one year old boy suffering from vomiting and abdominal pain. The child had been enrolled in the nutrition program, but was failing to gain weight. Amos was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia (groin area) and an umbilical hernia (belly button area) and surgery at Mercy Hospital was recommended.
Umbilical hernia is common in the developing world and may be the result of a congenital weakness in the abdominal muscles, or caused by severe coughing that leads to increased abdominal pressure. Various risk factors can cause inguinal hernias, including premature birth. Left untreated, umbilical and inguinal hernias can lead to severe health complications in children.
Amos was transported to the hospital, where he was admitted. The surgery was successfully performed by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Amara and Mercy's surgical officer, Lawrence Kargbo. His family didn't have any money for the surgery, but Mercy treats patients regardless of their ability to pay, so there was no charge for the treatment. Amos spent some time in recovery before being released. He and his mother returned later to say "thank you" to the staff of Mercy for their compassionate care.
The CRC is pleased to welcome Assiatu Tarawally and Andrew Forbie to the staff. Assiatu is joining the team of case managers who monitor the CRC students' academic progress and well being. Andrew is the new Monitoring and Evaluation Officer who will collect, analyze and report data to help the CRC improve programming, and communicate progress to partners. Andrew will work with M&E Project Lead Sam Bundren to establish a data management system.
Assiatu graduated with a bachelors degree in social work from Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone. She served an internship at Don Bosco Fambul, a Christian ministry that cares for street children in Freetown, and also volunteered for Project Pikin. Assiatu is the youngest child in her large family, who live in Freetown. Assiatu is a committed Christian who enjoys reading and dancing. "I love gaining new experiences, dealing with challenges, and finding a way out," Assiatu says. "I have a passion for children, and I want to contribute towards nation building."
Before coming to the CRC, Andrew served as Governance and Research Coordinator for People's Foundation for Humanity Development, a Sierra Leone-based NGO. Previous to that, he was a data collector for the World Food Programme in Liberia. He holds a bachelors degree in sociology from the University of Sierra Leone, and a secondary education teaching certificate from Milton Margai College.
Andrew is married and has three children and one foster child. He enjoys traveling to new places with his family and listening to music. He is a devoted Christian evangelist and musician who plays the keyboard and drums. "I am excited to work at CRC to represent and promote its mission, vision, core values and Biblical principles," Andrew says.
The Child Rescue Centre is encouraging Senior Secondary school graduates to consider vocational or technical education if they don't do well on the college entrance exam. Throughout West Africa, graduates of Senior Secondary School (high school equivalent) sit for the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), to determine their eligibility for further education. Upon receiving their results, CRC students are welcomed to apply for a Promise Scholarship for university or votech programs. Many CRC students who scored high on the WASSCE have pursued university degrees including medicine, engineering, journalism, applied science, or social work. However, the test is difficult and many students don't earn scores that will gain them entrance to university.
The CRC aims to remove any stigma about votech education, and help every student become a self-sufficient, contributing member of their community. CRC Director Olivia Fonnie and other staff members recently met with graduates to encourage them to consider vocational or technical training.
There are many successful individuals who do not go to college; they went to technical or vocational school," CRC Case Manager Victor Kanu explained. CRC graduate Amara Foday used his scholarship to attend welding school, a highly sought-after skill in Sierra Leone (read about Amara here) and is now enjoying a career in the booming Sierra Leone construction industry. CRC students have successfully completed vocation and technical education programs including catering, tailoring, and auto mechanics.
The CRC is offering extra tutoring and preparation classes for the students who decide to take the WASSCE a second time.
Although the western church has historically been a driving force in the proliferation of orphanages, it is poised now to become a huge part of the solution to the problem." - Krish Kandiah, Home for Good
Helping Children Worldwide was honored to be at the table with global child welfare leaders for the "The Global Church’s Response to Children Without Parental Care," in conjunction with the 2019 UN General Assembly on September 23rd in New York City. The group met to strategize how to engage the global church in the family reintegration movement, which seeks to place every orphaned or abandoned child in a safe and loving family. Melody Curtiss and Laura Horvath represented HCW in the meeting with other leaders of child welfare and faith organizations, including World Vision, 1MILLIONHOME, Catholic Relief Services, Home for Good, and the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO). Many of the participants were present at HCW's Rising Tides policy conference last month.
The meeting was organized by Krish Kandiah, Founding Director of Home for Good, and Elli Oswald, Executive Director of Faith to Action. Krish encouraged the assembly that the global church could become a "champion for children," and fulfill the Biblical promise to "let your light shine before men that they should see your deeds and praise you," by leading the movement to find loving families for all children. "Although the western church has historically been a driving force in the proliferation of orphanages, it is poised now to become a huge part of the solution to the problem," Krish concluded. Doug Leonard, World Council of Church representative to the UN, assured the group that they "can be a vehicle for advocacy to the UN on behalf of every child's right to grow up in safe, stable families."
Presentations by the participants framed the challenge:
HCW is an endorser of the Key Recommendations. Plans are underway to share the impact of the meeting with other Christian organizations, and develop language to communicate the mission and purpose of the group to share with church leaders across denominations.
Above: Krish Kandish (second from right) and Elli Oswald (right) convened the meeting of child welfare and faith leaders.
19 year old Isata was admitted suffering from severe abdominal pain, which was diagnosed as acute appendicitis. Her appendix was successfully removed and she recovered. Isata was in the examination hall when appendicitis struck. Fast-thinking friends rushed her to the hospital.
Jeneba was admitted for vaginal bleeding and diagnosed with ovarian cyst and fibroids. During surgery it was discovered that her ovaries were severely damaged, requiring the removal of one. Jeneba is doing much better post-surgery, and in gratitude, promised to name her first child Mercy.
Sesay, age 18, collapsed and was not breathing when her family brought her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with severe anemia caused by malaria and typhoid. The Mercy statistician donated a unit of blood which was administered, and she made a full recovery. Her family was amazed at how quickly she recovered after receiving a transfusion.