Filmmakers from 1MILLIONHOME recently visited Sierra Leone to interview and film families who have gone through the process of reuniting with their children who were previously in residential care. Helping Children Worldwide and 1MILLIONHOME are collaborating to create videos, print resources, and workshops to train child-focused organizations on how to move away from institutional care and towards family care for all children.
"There were some really hard stories, and I personally learned so much more about the challenges of on-going family care in the midst of extreme poverty," filmmaker Leigh Sarti said about the filming process. CRC Program Manager David Musa and other staff accompanied the crew on all home visits, serving as interpreters for the children and families.
At age 22, Ibrahim, who was recently enrolled in the Child Reintegration Centre, is much older than the typical new student. Program Manager David Musa explains that "Ibrahim's case was exceptional." When Ibrahim was a teenager, his mother, the family's breadwinner, suddenly died. His father was very ill and unable to provide for his son. Ibrahim found himself alone and without the means to stay enrolled in school. He dropped out and began working as a commercial motorcycle driver to support himself, ferrying passengers in between villages.
Eventually, Ibrahim moved to Bo to live with an uncle, but was still unable to afford school fees, as his uncle was caring for many family members (a common scenario in Sierra Leone.) As the years went by, Ibrahim never lost his desire to get an education. He heard about the CRC's support for impoverished children and requested help. In spite of his age the CRC offered Ibrahim enrollment, and he is currently attending YMCA Kandeh Secondary School.
"Based on his story, we decided to enroll him," David says. "He took the BECE but his grade was not that good, so he is taking the exam again this academic year." The CRC is determined to help Ibrahim finish his education, and against all odds, he is determined to succeed.
After many months of planning, shopping, and preparing, the highly anticipated SAC Christmas parties were held on Thursday and Friday before Christmas, to the delight of the 600 children and youth enrolled as Child Reintegration Centre students. The parties were a fun time of socializing, feasting, playing, and dancing for the kids. The youngest children were accompanied by their parents. The children were treated to a bountiful Christmas lunch, and watched a Nativity play enacted by fellow students. Before going home, every student received a small gift of clothing, toiletries, and candy to share with family. The annual Christmas party is the highlight of the year for the CRC students, whose families struggle from poverty.
A world of thanks to the amazing CRC staff for your hard work putting this party together, and to our kind and generous sponsors for making the parties possible. You are so loved and appreciated by the CRC students and their families.
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