Submitted by David T. Musa, Senior Consultant to the Training, Coaching and Mentoring Department
The Child Reintegration Centre's new Transition Coaching and Mentoring Department (TCM) successfully hosted the first 2-Day Workshop on Family Reintegration in collaboration with 1MillionHome and Helping Children Worldwide. Fifty practitioners and government leaders attended to learn how to move orphaned and abandoned children out of institutions and place them back into families, and help those families become stable and self-sufficient.
Sierra Leonean Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs Manty Tarawalli opened the workshop with her commitment to collaborate with the CRC to reintegrate children with families, both from the streets and institutions in Sierra Leone. UMC-SLAC Dean of Cabinet Rev. Francis B. Charley offered the opening prayer and a statement on behalf of the conference.
Minister Tarawally thanked the CRC for helping other organizations transition to a family-based model of care that will benefit not only the child, but the family. She said that this is the one of the priorities of the Ministry under the new government. “I feel honored to stand here as the minister and looking forward to continue working with all partners to help create a truly effective children’s protection system,” she concluded.
Four key presentations were offered on day one by the CRC staff and by HCW representative Mohamed Nabieu. One of the activities that captured the minds of participants was the "Barriers to Transition." In this activity, everyone was asked to make a list of barriers and challenges they think they will face when transitioning from a residential care model to family/community based care model, and these barriers were posted on the gallery for reference on day two. After going through this presentation, participants were amazed to see that most of what they have been seeing as barriers can be overcome, once they are determined to make the transition. The activity concluded on day two when the participants went through the gallery to put a sticker on what they no longer see as a barrier.
Mr. Kanneh from SOS Children’s Village observed that "Our donors have not thought of changing our model of care to a family based care model, but when we the staff think of such, we have this constant fear of losing our jobs if the orphanage is closed. But after going through this presentation I have the conviction today that we will be open to more opportunities once we transition, and this will be good for the children as well."
The presentations continued on day two with the "3 R's:" Reintegrate and Reunify, Repurpose and Refocus, co-presented by CRC Director Olivia Fonnie and TCM Department head David Musa. After the 3 R's presentation, Rev. Sahr Yiaba of Love One Another said, "We now know that the best place to raise a child is in the family or community, wherein the entire family benefits from whatever support is given from an institution. And we hope to work strongly together to achieve this common goal together.”
At the end of day two, participants were asked to suggest ways of staying together as a community of practice. Various ideas were suggested such as forming a Whatsapp group, regular phone conversations, meetings at suggested times, and connecting to the TCM department for coaching opportunities.
This workshop concluded with evaluation forms by participants, snapshots, distribution of TCM flyers and distribution of transportation refunds. The TCM department will continue connecting with the participants and coaching them through the transition process.
Sierra Leone's AYTV News covered the two-day CRC/HCW/1MH Family Reunification Workshop held October 2 and 3 at the Child Reintegration Centre. National TV coverage of the event mentioned that the keynote was delivered by Minister Manty Tarawalli, and explains that the purpose of the workshop was to teach orphanage leaders in Bo, Makeni, Kenema and Pujehun the importance of children growing up in families, how to transition from residential models to family-based programs, and best practices in caring for orphans and vulnerable children. Minister Tarawalli applauded the CRC and described the workshop as "a move in the right direction."
"The outcome we hope for is that the participants will consider different models of care for children instead of orphanage care," the CRC's Reintegration Manager David Musa said. Representatives from UMC-SLAC and other government officials also attended the two day workshop.
The Child Reintegration Centre, in collaboration with Helping Children Worldwide and 1MillionHome, will host the first Family Reunification Workshop in Sierra Leone on October 2 - 3. Orphanage leaders from Bo, Makeni, Kenema, and Pujehun will learn the importance of children growing up in families, the basics about how to transition from a residential model to family-based programs, and be invited to join a community of practice together to continue to share best practices in the care of orphans and vulnerable children. Opening remarks will be made by Patrick Bangura, the Bo representative of the Ministry of Gender and Children's Affairs, and the keynote speaker will be the Honorable Minister Manty Tarawalli, Minister of the Gender and Children's Affairs for Sierra Leone. HCW's Assistant Director Mohamed Nabieu will be present for the workshop.
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