Fourteen-year-old Hannah Smith attends the Methodist Girls High school in Bo where she is enrolled in Junior Secondary 1. Hannah and her younger brother Paul were enrolled in the residential program, and were recently reunified to live with their father, who is disabled.
Hannah’s school organized a quiz and debate competition for 16 children across 3 classes (JSS1, JSS2, and JSS3), to observe the African Day of the Child commemoration, with the objective to identify competent pupils in the school. Questions were designed and selected for all junior secondary school subjects.
At the end of the competition, Hannah Smith emerged as the victor in the debate category for JSS 1 and a certificate was presented to her in recognition of her participation and achievement.
“I was really happy,” Hannah said. “The reason I’m so happy is that when I stood for the competition and won it, my friends were all very happy for me. I studied hard to bring success, encouraging other children in my community, the CRC program, and in the school to be bold and study hard.” Hannah shared her thanks and appreciation for the teachers in the school for helping to prepare her.
Hannah also gives credit to the CRC staff as well for helping her to be successful. As a result of CRC support and what they had taught her, Hannah benefitted from their stories, reading, devotions, and preaching of the gospel.
One of the school’s teachers, Mr. Ibrahim Sillah said “Hannah Smith is one of our best students in the school and it was not a surprise she came out as the victor in the competition. And as for her performance in class, she came in second in the first examination, first in the second examination and we hope she will earn the best result in the ongoing examination!”
- Deborah Kanneh, Family Care Program Coordinator
Sponsors Gaylew and Roger Hutchison were excited to hear Hannah's news. "We're very proud of Hannah!" Gaylew exclaimed. Roger shares his wife's pride, "We're so very proud that she is our sponsored child." Hannah displays her certificate, joined by FCP Coordinator Deborah Kanneh, and her teacher Mr. Sillah.
The best place for the child is in the home. Orphanages are the worst place for them.
On June 26, 2018, the Child Rescue Centre held a solemn, yet joyful ceremony to celebrate the reunification of the twenty remaining residential students, who went to live with their "forever families."
The CRC is in the forefront of the international movement to move children out of orphanages, as UNICEF and other child-focused organizations across the globe recognize that caring families are far better at raising emotionally and mentally healthy children than institutions.
The event was attended by the children and their families, the CRC staff, Bishop John Yambasu, Mrs. Olivia Fonnie, and representatives from SOS Children's Village and the Ministry of Social Welfare.
Even though there were some emotional moments, the overwhelming sentiment was joyful anticipation for the children as they go to live with their "forever families." The parents were assured of the organization’s support for their children, who will remain enrolled as CRC students, and come to the CRC compound to attend activities and stay connected.
The following dignitaries and honored guests spoke:
Bishop John K. Yambasu, Sierra Leone Annual Conference
This is an occasion for thanksgiving to God after almost 18 years. From the very humble beginnings near the market, up to this time. Until we appreciate ourselves and what we have done, we cannot appreciate God. I really want to appreciate CRC staff, you are nothing but the best. We have gone through so many transitions together. Children have come and gone, staff have come and gone. It has been a struggle. Many people when they come to a job, come to serve themselves. But this is not correct. We need to serve humanity and serve God.
We are not really closing the residence. We will still maintain a transit home for emergency cases that the Ministry of Social Welfare can recommend to us. This will only be a short-term and temporary transit home.
It is a blessing to be a parent, and it comes with so much responsibility. I give these caregivers the advice to treat the children in your care as if they were your own children. If someone looks at your family, they should not be able to know who is your real biological child and who is not. With love, we will come to help empower you to be the best parents you can be.
I want to say thanks and appreciation to Social Welfare. They have been working with us since the beginning. We are smaller than some of the other NGOs. But we are a strong faith-based organization, and we became the best child care organization.
Nobody can do this work alone. I want to thank all the staff, the UMC staff, Olivia, Rev Charley, and our partners at HCW. All of this started with me and Rev. Tom Berlin. Then we started getting one partner church, than two, and now we have 17 partner churches. I want to thank them so much for all their support over the years. It is really not easy for them to raise money for us, they work so hard. They are the only ones supporting us and we are so grateful to them.
We have had some bitter experiences with reunification in the past. We used to have the children in the home for so long. They would stay until they were 18 years old. Some came in at 7 years old and would spend 10, 12 years in the home. Once they left they had a hard time because outside there was no control. They were not able to adjust well and they fell into trouble.
Of course, some really did well. This man here, 18 years ago, was one of you here, one of the first children in this program. Now he is the Director. Honestly, I don’t want to embarrass him, but we have had 5 or 6 Directors and he has been the best one. He takes this as his family, as his home and he wants only the best for it. Its not about money.
Many of the children here have gone on to do great things: doctors, architects, and many work here at CRC. That’s the profit we get. That is the greatest benefit we get from this work, to see all the wonderful things the children will do.
Mabel Mustapha, Reunification Chairperson and Education Manager
Today is a very important day in the history of our organization. This is the last reunification ceremony. The children will finally be reunited with their families. There have been many reunifications, the first one was in 2012, but this will be the last. For me, I am happy because we started this two years ago with training and preparing the families. So we know the parents and the children are both ready for this because we have helped to build a bond for these families.
Olivia Fonnie, CRC Supervisory Chair
I would like to speak directly to the parents. Because I am a parent and I know how difficult it can be. Please, let us have patience with them. One day your child may come to you and ask for something that you do not have in your hand. Please be patient with them and gently explain to them that things are different in your home and that you don’t have everything they might have at CRC. Use your stipend wisely and for the benefit of your children for their schooling. Thank you for taking them, God will surely bless you.
Mohamed Nabieu, CRC Director
Anything God asks you to do, do it to the best of your ability. Do it so you can sleep well at night with a clear conscience that you did your best. We made sure that all of you are biologically related. The best thing for a child is to be raised in the home with their real relatives.
I am proud of where I came from, I am so thankful for all the CRC has done for me. After the war, I was separated from my family and there was no choice other than to go to the orphanage. Up to date, I still struggle to know my extended family because I never was able to connect with them. It really bothers me.
80% - 90% of children in orphanages have a living parent. They go into orphanages because of poverty. Why are you doing something for somebody when they can do it themselves? Children need to know their roots and be with their forever family. Parents need to have the opportunity to raise their own children.
Your children are precious to us but they need to be with you. We will continue supporting them so you can be a family. You are going to have challenges. Here in the home there is a strict schedule. There is a time for everything. There are many rules. It will be different for the children to be in the community. We are moving our focus from an individual child to the entire family. This is so the family can support all the children and become sustainable and move out of poverty.
Hawa Koker, Director of SOS Children's Village
I want to congratulate the CRC for the bold step they have taken in this direction. I want to thank all these partners. We realize that we need to make these changes. Honestly, we are not on the right track. This poverty issue is really true for us in Sierra Leone and it makes children come to the orphanage. We need to work together to share data.
I agree with the Director about the best place for a child. Its not easy for people to embrace it. We are struggling. We have 150 children in the village. Its just not easy. I know we are resistant to change but this change is the best for the children. Many children in our program have families. Their families cannot even visit them without a pass. Some family homes are so close to the village that the children can wave over the fence to their parents. But their parents won’t wave back because they are afraid of the children being taken out of the program.
Some family homes are so close to the [SOS] village that the children can wave over the fence to their parents. But their parents won’t wave back, because they are afraid of the children being taken out of the program.
We have started allowing the children to go home to their families on some weekends or holidays. It is not forced. We have 150 children and on those weekends maybe only 5 children will stay back in the village. So that means that obviously SOS is not the place for them to be. If you keep somebody for 18 years they have to come back to us. They don’t know anything about being outside.
We need to continuously check ourselves and see if it is in the interest of the child. When the children come back to SOS after being with their families, they cry. You can never replace blood. Blood is blood. Let's join together and do the best we can for the children. We are creating an empire for a small number and when they mix with other children, they see them as nothing. Differences are there. Poverty is not an excuse.
Patrick Bangura, Director Ministry of Social Welfare
The best place for the child is in the home. Orphanages are the worst place for them. They are not able to adjust back. We appreciate the steps of CRC that they are following the laws. I am really happy to hear about the interim care home because we have critical cases. Recently CRC helped us with one of those and we are so grateful. Sierra Leone does not have orphans. There always has to be a relative, an auntie or an uncle. You just need to trace them.
Aminata Mansary, President, Children’s Voice
I am happy for CRC because it has helped my educational life and it has helped my spiritual life. I am sure CRC will still support me and help me to grow and learn. I want to say thank you to the staff and thank you to my brothers and sisters.
Sallay Mattia, Caregiver
We are so happy because of this. Thank you for taking care of our children. Thank you for teaching us and training us. We are so happy when the children come to visit us and stay with us. We are excited to have them at home now. We are happy to have your support and thank you all.
Abduali Dakowa, CRC student
On behalf of the children, I want to thank everyone for all they have done for us. We thank the staff for taking good care of us and helping us to learn. We thank the partners for everything. We are very happy and love you all.
Musu Mansary, Caregiver
I am so happy that the children are coming to stay with me. It is very good. They are nice girls and I am glad they will be with me. Thank you to CRC for helping us.
Visitors to the Missionary Training Centre always rave about the delicious Sierra Leone cuisine dished up by MTC Manager Fudia Ernest and her amazing staff. It's mild enough for American palates, but with a deliciously piquant African flair, satisfying to body and soul. Many have wondered if they could learn how to make some of Fudia's spicy entrees when they return home.
Well, now you can, starting with "Fudia's Famous Groundnut Stew," a crowd pleaser for missioners and Sierra Leoneans alike (download the recipe below.) Groundnuts (as West Africans refer to peanuts) form the base for a rich chicken stew flavored with jalapenos and served over rice. The secret ingredient is Maggi seasoning, available on Amazon (your purchase supports Helping Children Worldwide) or at Lotte stores locally.
Coming soon, Helping Children Worldwide will be publishing Fudia's Cookbook, which will be available for purchase on our website, all proceeds to benefit the Missionary Training Centre and missions in Sierra Leone. Stay tuned!
Fudia Ernest (below) cooks her amazing culinary creations on an open fire in the kitchen hut behind the MTC.
Fudia's Famous Groundnut Stew
1. Clean and roughly chop the onions, tomatoes, and spring onions. Set aside.
2. In food processor, grind together garlic and desired amount of jalapeños.
3. Season chicken pieces to taste using Maggi seasoning or Season-All. Add garlic/jalapeño mix to
4. Place seasoned chicken pieces in large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook
for 5 – 10 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken from pot. Set stock aside for later use.
6. In another large stock pot, heat 1⁄2 inch of vegetable oil on medium to medium-high heat.
Carefully add chicken pieces to oil and fry until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and
drain off excess oil. (TIP: to avoid overcrowding your pan, fry chicken in batches)
7. Using the same oil from frying the chicken, add onions and tomatoes and cook over medium heat
8. Add peanut butter to vegetables and cook until combined, stirring.
9. Add reserved stock to the peanut butter mixture. Simmer over medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes.
(If stew seems too thick, add water to mixture to increase volume)
10. Add chicken pieces and tomato paste to peanut butter mixture. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce
to a simmer over medium heat for 20 – 40 minutes, until thickened.
11. While stew is cooking, make rice of choice to pour stew over.
12. When the stew has thickened, remove from heat and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes. It will continue to
13. Serve over rice and enjoy!
*TIP: If you don’t want to butcher, feel free to buy chicken pieces at the grocery store.
Salimatu Sungu is a 4 year old girl who was admitted to Mercy with severe vomiting and diarrhea. Diarrhea is extremely deadly in children under five, because their small body size makes them much more susceptible to dehydration than adults. Mercy was able to dehydrate Salimatu and within 12 hours of receiving the treatment, she was feeling much better, although extremely sleepy!
Dr. Amara conducted maternal mortality training for the nurses, maternity department, and CHOs of Mercy Hospital last Wednesday. It was recently announced that Bo district has the highest maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone. The district medical officer has called an emergency meeting this week to discuss this silent epidemic. Notably, Mercy Hospital has had no maternal deaths in 2018.
"This was more of a review for the staff on the basics that they already know," Dr. Amara explained. "Maternal mortality is very serious and we want to make sure that they are able to understand all of these principles offhand. We are going to give them an exam this Wednesday to see how much they have understood. From there, we will know what specific areas of training we need to review to make sure they are able to be most effective at their work."
Every year in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare of Bo, The Child Rescue Centre commemorates the Day of the African Child Day. This year’s theme “Pikin Nor For Lef Behine For Salone E Betteh Wan” (No Child Is Left Behind For the Betterment of Sierra Leone), inspired a fun, yet meaningful event for more than 200 of the children and youth enrolled in the CRC's programs.
Since 1991, The Day of the African Child has been celebrated across Africa to honor the children who participated in the 1976 Soweto Uprising and raise awareness for African childrens' education and welfare. The day has also become an opportunity to examine the progress of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child established in 1999.
The CRC's commemoration opened with prayer and remarks by Family Care Coordinators Deborah Kanneh and Amie Nallo. Education Manager Mabel Mustapha followed, exclaiming that “I am the happiest woman today to see children in the entire program join the Child Recuse Centre to mark this event. We have been working to promote the well-being of children and to uplift their social rights in this district and in Sierra Leone for more than 18 years.”
The celebration included a festive meal, dance competition, storytelling, and a powerful message to the children to take their education seriously. The event closed with a prayer for African children across the continent.
The Child Rescue Centre (CRC) was proud to celebrate the graduation of the second microfinance class last week. The ceremony opened with prayer offered by one of the microfinance participants, Sallay Mattia, mother to Sallay and Hassan Combay. Education Manager Mabel Mustapha thanked God for the lives of the participants, facilitators, and the donors for organizing such a wonderful capacity building training for the thirty two beneficiaries, at the same time providing a loan for startup capital. She encouraged the graduates to remain committed, and work hard to repay their loans on time.
Child Support Program Manager David Titus Musa reminded the graduates of the importance of time management, which they learned in the training. "Use your time very well," David advised, especially considering that some of the businesses are seasonal.
Ministry of Social Welfare Representative, Sylvanus Conteh, expressed thanks and appreciation to the CRC for their support of the ministry in the areas of child justice, child protection, health, and education. Mr. Conteh encouraged the graduates to work very hard to pay their loans, and use the money for the intended purpose, the care of their children. "There are lots of people out there looking for such opportunity," he told the graduates, adding that the ministry will also be assisting in monitoring their progress.
On behalf of Bishop Yambasu, UMC-SLAC Representative Rev. Francis Charley thanked the staff and participants for their diligence and hard work, adding that the raising of children is the most important business. "A home without a child is not a happy home," Rev. Charley exclaimed. "The Child Rescue Centre is a Christian organization," he told the gathering, "but we are not selective among Christian or Muslim, or whether you are UMC members or not. The organization gives to those who are in need."
Rev. Charley reminded the parents that the CRC is supporting them so that they can take better care of their children. “Whatever you are doing must be in the interest of the child," he concluded.
Mabel Mustapha told the graduates that supporters in the US are really interested in the microfinance program, because they view it as a key to sustainable development and growth, therefore "they should work very hard to repay their loans on time."
Several graduates shared their testimonies. Mariam Filiwon, mother of Vaikuma Fofanah, told the group “I use to mismanage my funds, spend without budgeting, used money just as it comes, no investment. Since I was doing a business I was not saving, but now I do save on a daily basis." Mariam said she is saving 60,000 leones each month.
“I now know how to make a budget and plan for the rainy days," James Kanu, father of Augustine and Christian Kanu, testified, adding that participation in the program had "improved honesty among my family members with regard to finances."
Following a certificate ceremony and disbursement of loans, the graduates enjoyed refreshments. In total, 32 caregivers graduated, including 30 women and two men.
- Victor S. Kanu- CSP/FCP Assistant Coordinator and Lead Facilitator for Microfinance
Last month, the Mercy village outreach team encountered nine-month-old Mohamed Fofanah, desperately ill and deydrated. The team brought the child back to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe malaria and anemia. Mohamed received anti-malarial medicine and a blood transfusion, which could never have been done in the village. Without Mercy’s intervention, Mohamed would almost certainly have died.
Malaria--which Doctors Without Borders calls "the other epidemic"--is one of the greatest causes of under-five mortality in Sierra Leone, especially deadly when a child's immune system is already compromised by malnutrition or parasitic infection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of malaria in the world. Children are particularly susceptible to infection, illness and death from malaria, which contributes to an estimated twenty percent of child mortality.
Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces transmission of the disease and prevents deaths. In 2017 Mercy Hospital treated more than 8,000 people for malaria infection, both at the hospital and through village outreach, saving the lives of children and adults.
In pursuit of the mission to reduce maternal and infant mortality, Mercy Hospital encourages women to give birth at the hospital, which greatly improves the outcome for mothers and babies. Last week these beautiful identical twins were delivered at Mercy. Mother and babies are doing well!
Fatorma, a three-month old baby, had become severely dehydrated from a pneumonia infection, and was admitted to the hospital as a destitute because his parents had no means to pay for treatment. After three days of treatment and monitoring, little Fatorma was discharged and is doing well.
Every Sunday, Child Rescue Centre student Ibrahim Bockarie sits on the front row of Leader UMC, not so he can hear the sermon better, but because he has a friend who needs his help. Ibrahim’s new friend, Toma, is a blind man who faithfully attends church, but needs someone to guide him to his seat and assist him throughout the service.
Ibrahim escorts Toma to their spot on the front pew, helps him with the offering, renders assistance if Toma needs to use the restroom, and stays with him until the service is over so he can help him down the stairs.
The CRC recently recognized Ibrahim’s service with a special citizenship award, which was announced in front of the entire staff at Wednesday devotions. “Ibrahim shows humility and love to the blind man, as taught by God and directed by the Child Rescue Centre,” CRC staff member Victor Kanu said proudly.
Ibrahim is 12 years old and attends UMC Kulanda Primary School, alongside many other children enrolled in the Child Rescue Centre. Not surprisingly, Ibrahim loves playing football in his spare time.
Midwife Mariama Bangali was very surprised and happy to receive Mercy’s quarterly staff recognition award in May. She is clearly a very dedicated worker, however, because she attended a training and the staff meeting one day, even though it was her day off. On top of that, she was sick and had a cannula inserted in her hand (what you connect to the IV). She even went on Outreach the next day with it still in! According to her co-workers, going above and beyond what is required is just what Mariama does.
About being selected for this award, Mariama said, “I am very excited and so happy. I think I won the award because I worked hard for it. I work in the maternity department and do the antenatal clinics and work in the labor ward. I started working at Mercy almost one year ago now. Mercy is so nice and I really like my colleagues and the management. Everyone works so hard. Mercy is quite different from other hospitals that I have worked at. The maternity department is trying our best and getting along so well. We work fast to make sure our patients are healthy and have safe deliveries.”
Christiana (her supervisor) had high praise for Mariama, sharing that ““she comes to work on time and she never leaves her duty. She is very diligent and committed. She is ready to do any duty at all. Mariama treats the patients very nicely, she knows how to talk to them and to encourage them. I feel very good that someone from our unit was chosen. She’s a hard worker."
- filed by Kim Nabieu, Medical Programs Field Director