The newest additions to the CRC’s Child Support Program are 20 children who live in Fengehun Village, about 25 kilometres from Bo. The Mercy Hospital Outreach team holds a clinic in Fengehun each month, and now CRC staff make the trip as well, in order to conduct school and home visits.
The staff recently conducted a workshop and letter event for children in the village. Parents, pupils and teachers were present at this meeting. Topics included CRC activities, benefits of the program, the role of parents and teachers in monitoring their children and helping with their studies, commitments of parents and community, and alternative forms of discipline.
At the end of the workshop, the students wrote to their sponsors.
On Sunday, March 18th, First UMC of Colleyville held a dual annual kickoff event for their thriving Sponsor A Child initiative, and the Run for Rescue 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk to support missioners who serve in Sierra Leone. The church members' response was especially enthusiastic, due to a beautiful Sponsor A Child display with photos of students sponsored by church members, and children who need sponsors. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the event, with special thanks to Ruth Ann Meek, SAC coordinator for First UMC, Karen Roeming, partner church representative, and Sharon Gardner and Neil McKinnon, Run for Rescue organizers. First UMC is grateful to partner church Otterbein UMC for inspiring their new SAC display.
By Clarence Roy-Macaulay | AP March 26 at 4:19 PM
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Sierra Leone’s Supreme Court on Monday approved the election commission’s request to delay Tuesday’s runoff presidential vote until the weekend after the lifting of an interim injunction that had stalled preparations.
The commission applied for more time once the West African nation’s high court vacated the injunction that was granted Saturday after a member of the ruling party filed a petition citing irregularities in the first round on March 7. The opposition called the petition a delay tactic.
The runoff election is now set for Saturday.
Tensions have risen in the nation of 7 million people after neither the ruling All Peoples Congress party candidate nor the leading opposition candidate won the first round outright. The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, which took 43.3 percent to the ruling party’s 42.7 in the first round, has not held the presidency since 2007.
Opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio, a former military leader, on Sunday said his party would not accept a delay in the vote. He also accused President Ernest Bai Koroma and the ruling party of “pushing us to the point of chaos in the country.” Koroma has served two terms and is barred by the constitution from running again.
Bio, who is making his second bid for the presidency after losing in 2012, stands to pick up votes from the 14 candidates eliminated in the first round.
(First published by The Washington Post, 3/26/2018)
Mrs. Hannah Fofanah is one of twenty-eight participants in the initial microfinance class, launched in February of 2017. As the grandmother and caregiver of Child Rescue Centre student Lucy Kamara, Hannah was invited to enroll in the first class, which was offered to 30 parents and caregivers who were struggling to make ends meet. The microfinance program was designed to help vulnerable families acquire the tools they need to become financially stable.
Many of the CRC students are in the care of grandparents or other family members, sometimes because they've lost their parents, and sometimes because they have been removed from the home by Sierra Leone social services.
Hannah cares for seven additional grandchildren, supporting them all by selling firewood, charcoal, and now handmade soap. Her granddaughter Lucy attends UMC Njagboima, where she is in Junior Secondary Class 2.
After attending weekly classes at the CRC to learn about saving, budgeting and simple business management, Hannah reflected that she found it “very useful to be part of these classes...my little business used to dwindle since I was not saving, except I borrowed money from my colleague or from close family relatives to make up for my business again. But from the time I started attending classes I now know how to save some profit and never interfere with my capital.”
Hannah’s family noticed the change almost immediately. “My grandchildren feel very happy for such opportunity and even help me with notes sometimes. I don’t have a husband anymore and even though I am getting old it is still important to learn and I am sure this will be put into practice to help me maintain my family.”
Since receiving her small loan of approximately $70 in August, Hannah shared "having a loan I decided to expand my business... my whole family is happy for the loan." Hannah is also proud to report that all 8 of her grandchildren are attending school.
The CRC staff recently visited Hannah at her place of business. Hannah has been steadily paying her loan payments since last fall, though recently that has been a struggle. Reports of incidents of violence related to the recent presidential election have meant that many people are not moving from their homes in order to remain safe, but she is hopeful to get back on track after the run-off scheduled for Saturday, March 31st.
Mercy Hospital's new Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sao Amara, is settling in well at the hospital. Dr. Amara enjoys working closely with the staff, and is excited about the operating room. He is currently hard at work developing a list of equipment needed to get the OR up and running.
Dr. Amara has training and expertise in surgery, and is particularly interested in maternal health and surgery. These skills are especially critical for the hospital's expansion to include an operating theater.
Dr. Amara's interest in maternal and child health is what initially drew him to Mercy, so he is excited to be working with the prenatal and nutrition programs, and plans to go on outreach after the elections. Recently, Dr. Amara co-led a staff training on pregnancy-induced hypertension with Matron Augusta Kpanabaum.
Dr. Amara received a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the College of Medicine and Health Sciences in 2014, and is awaiting the results of his Masters of Public Health from Njala University. Dr. Amara should feel right at home at Mercy, having graduated from the Bo Government Senior Secondary School.
Dr. Sao K. Amara, Mercy’s new doctor and surgeon, and Matron Augusta recently engaged the Mercy maternity staff and Chief Health Officers on strategies for dealing with prolonged labor.
As they await the completion and equipping of the new wing and operating suite, the Mercy Hospital staff is focused on building staff skills that will help prepare the entire team to work together. Through regular on-site workshops and telemedicine, the staff continues to build their skills and knowledge.
For the past year, the CRC staff has been working to strengthen the bonds between the residential children and their families. These activities have included having the children visit their families' homes on Sunday afternoons, and during weekends or holiday breaks, and providing counseling to both children and families. Families are also welcome and encouraged to visit the CRC facility for sports events, Wednesday devotions, and parenting workshops.
On January 26th, the CRC's Reunification Committee led parents in a Nurturing Hearts workshop focused on equipping parents with strategies for forming and sustaining health attachments with their child. The Nurturing Hearts curriculum was first provided to the CRC staff through a training led by Patrice Penney and Beth Ratchford in July of 2015. Following the workshop, parents had the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with their children. Parents have also been encouraged to visit with their child every fourth night from now until the children are finally reunified with them. The remaining 20 children will be reunified with their 'forever families' later this year.
Sierra Leone held a general election on Wednesday, March 7th to elect a new president, parliament, and local councils. None of the presidential candidates received 55% of the vote as required by election law, so March 27, 2018 has been set for the runoff date. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced on March 13 that former foreign affairs minister, Samura Kamara will face Julius Maada Bio, a former military head of state.
Kamara who leads the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) came in second after final results of the March 7 polls were declared. Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) won the first round with close to 1.1 million votes representing 43%.
The other two main candidates Kandeh Yumkella, a former United Nations Under-Secretary, and Samuel Sam-Sumana got 6.7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. There were 12 other minor candidates.
President Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping aside after his maximum two terms in office. The vote to replace him has largely been peaceful, a triumph for a country that lived through a brutal, diamond-fueled civil war in the 1990s.
The winner faces a huge task trying to kick start the West African country’s economy, which after recovering from the war has been ravaged by low prices for iron ore, its main export, and an Ebola epidemic.
Manchester UMC (Manchester, Missouri) has a uniquely talented and enthusiastic children’s choir, directed by Lori Borger. Every year, the choir of fourth and fifth graders, called "Music Makers," stages a musical and selects a cause to receive the love offering taken at the event. This year, Lori and her kids chose the Child Rescue Centre as beneficiaries of their musical, "Rescue in the Night."
Written by Tom Long and Alan Pote, "Rescue in the Night" is a musical retelling of the Biblical story of Daniel in the Lions' den. “The story of Daniel is one of courage and trust in God." Lori explained. "We made one of our themes this year about rising to our full potential, like Daniel did, without compromising… and also allowing others to rise to THEIR full potential, by standing up for friends who are being bullied, like Daniel was by the King’s advisors. We also rise by doing what we can to help ALL children – even those we don’t know, halfway around the world - rise to THEIR full potential. That’s what Helping Children Worldwide does every day – and we are honored to be able to support your work.”
While planning and practicing for the annual concert, Lori encourages her kids to shoot for the stars, while helping them to maintain reasonable expectations. “I always set what I believe is a realistic goal for the kids,” Lori told us, “as I want them to experience that feeling of success....and the excitement of exceeding their goal...so our goal was to fund a child's tuition for every child in our entire Children's Music program, which is 76 kids, or $3800. I'm happy to report that these kids touched hearts in a very powerful way.”
The kids blew that goal out of the water, and the offering collected at the three concerts held on March 3rd and 4th raised over $10,000 for the Child Rescue Centre. At the cast party, Borger shared the news. “Well, just as I predicted - excitement and joyful screaming ensued!” she shared.
Clearly, the musical was a smashing success, but Lori sees a much deeper purpose than simply showcasing the kids' awesome talent or raising funds. “Each time we are able to give children the experience of taking a personal role in lifting someone else up in a significant way, I can almost visibly see THEM rise as well… they sit a little taller; they understand that even as a child, they can collectively harness the powerful force of doing GOOD…and how GOOD that feels. I just love seeing the light in their eyes – and tears in some, too - when they realize that they have made the world a better, brighter place for someone.
"It has been the joy of my life to be able to do what I love: theater and music and children – and to let children experience the joy of lifting others up, and empower them to know that they can make the world a better place for someone else at any age, when we come together for a common good. AND, I love introducing them to just a small fraction of the amazing programs going on all over the world, like the Child Rescue Centre, that are dedicated to helping others….there are SO many ways to plug in and help our hurting world!"
Otterbein UMC in Harrisonburg, VA, pastored by Rev. Adam Blagg, really loves their sponsored students.
The partner church proudly displays the profiles of all the Child Rescue Centre students sponsored by church members in a prominent place, with Psalm 147:4 posted above: "He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names."
The church's strong commitment to the CRC and pride in their students, is evident in the "Otterbein's Star Scholars" display. It's like a display you might see in the hallway of an American school, although a closer look reveals that the students are 4500 miles away.
A recent sponsorship event at the church added eight more students to the total, whose pictures will soon be added to the display.