Missioners who've traveled to Bo on behalf of HCW probably know and love the ancient Cotton Tree that stood in the middle of Freetown. The massive (230 ft) kapok tree (probably named the Cotton Tree because of the white fluff from its seed pods) had stood over Freetown for nearly 400 years before a terrible rain storm last week led to its toppling to the ground.
The tree has stood in the heart of the capitol city since its settlement by former slaves who returned to Africa from Britain and North America. In 1792, 1200 freed slaves from Nova Scotia held a meeting under the tree to give thanks for their safety in the home they christened "Free Town." For centuries, Sierra Leoneans have cherished the beloved tree as a symbol of their historic connections to the liberated slaves who founded their country. For years people had continued to gather and pray for the country under its branches. The tree has adorned bank notes, stamps and medals.
“This is like New York losing the Statue of Liberty, or if the Eiffel Tower in Paris fell,” said Ali Bangura according to The Globe and Mail. "For centuries, it has been a proud emblem of our nation, a symbol of a nation that has grown to provide a shelter for many," President Maada Bio has said. Bio has promised to replace the Cotton Tree with a new symbol of its history.
These adorable triplets were taken to Mercy Hospital after the death of their mother in childbirth. Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and the death of a parent can have a profound impact on the outcome of the children. The triplets, already smaller than most babies because they shared the womb, were at an increased risk of death and other poor health outcomes. Without their mother’s milk, they were at extreme risk of malnutrition and disease, and with an absent father could also have ended up in an orphanage.
Fortunately, Sierra Leone is a culture with a high value on families. The children’s Grandmother and Auntie agreed to take them in, and took them to Mercy Hospital to be evaluated and cared for. Mercy referred the triplets to the CRC, who provided them with emergency food support in the form of rice and infant formula. As the children get older, they will be eligible for other support from the CRC like education materials and case management support. For now, they are in the loving hands of their grandmother who knows that there is support available should she need it.
Filming on the documentary, The Root of it All, began Mozambique in April. This film, funded by a grant from the First Fruit Foundation, will share stories about organizations seeking to transition their orphanages to family care models for children all over Africa. Filmmakers Samuel Rich and Marianna Mäkiniemi were joined by the films 'stars' and CRC experts David Musa and George Kulanda as they engaged with African Bishops, social workers, orphanage directors, families and children. Film capture is FUN - the team made use of multiple cameras, lighting, GoPros and even a drone! Melody Curtiss and I (Laura Horvath) were thrilled to be able to take a very much behind-the-scenes role so that George and David could take center stage in sharing their questions, concerns, and reflections on the important work of transition support.
As the film continues to take shape, we head next to Sierra Leone, where of course we'll tell some of the story of the Child Reintegration Centre's transition and ongoing work to help others learn how to shift from residential to family care models, but we'll also be sharing the stories of at least two other organizations engaged in this journey to better care for children. We believe that strong, safe, loving and healthy families are at the root of positively changing not just families, but communities, societies, governments, and indeed - healing the world.
We'll be updating you via this special blog [The Root of It All} and our social media throughout the coming months with behind the scenes photos and stories to give you an advance peek into the development of this important film. Stay tuned!
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