1MILLIONHOME/HCW Family Reunification Workshop
HCW, 1MILLIONHOME and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) are collaborating to hold a reintegration/transition workshop for orphanage directors, child welfare program leaders, and government officials from West Africa.
The workshop will be held in Freetown in Fall 2020. Program Development Director Laura Horvath describes the event as a hands-on workshop designed to equip participants with the tools they need to begin their own transition from institutional to family-based care, as recommended by the United Nations. (Read more about family reintegration here.)
Following the workshop, the MSWGCA Minister Mabinty Tarawallie will host a nationwide meeting with all registered child protection organizations to disseminate information about the movement of children from institutions to family care, which is a national goal. The CRC will be highlighted as a trailblazer in the movement to reintegrate children with their family of birth or a foster family.
Collaboration with Street Child to rescue abandoned children
The CRC staff have been collaborating with Street Child to provide interim care for abandoned children while their families are traced and prepared for reintegration. Street Child has a long history in Sierra Leone providing short term and emergency care to homeless children. "I am very excited about the CRC taking the lead to work side by side to get children off the streets, Child Welfare Programs Liaison Mohamed Nabieu says. "The MSW Minister's goal is to take 1,000 kids off the streets by the end of this year, and she would be working with the CRC to support her goal."
The CRC continues to build a robust case management system, hiring additional case managers to effectively and efficiently monitor the welfare of children and families.
CRC mentors orphanages transitioning to family care
The CRC has launched the De-Institutionalization department focused on helping orphanages transition from residential to family care. Headed by long time CRC team member David Musa, the DI department will assess an organization's readiness for transition, teach the organization how to develop a transition plan, and coach their staff through the process. The DI Department will coach orphanages on safe, collaborative, and sustainable family reintegration, as well as family strengthening and sustainability.
The Child Reintegration Centre announced the promotion of Henry Kebbie to Sponsor A Child Coordinator. Since 2017, Henry Kebbie has served the CRC ably as Assistant Coordinator. With the departure of program lead Joseph "JJ" Junisa, who has joined his wife in London, the CRC leadership unanimously agreed that Henry should step into the leadership role.
Henry is an alumnus of the CRC who was enrolled in the Child Support Program in 2000 as a child from a vulnerable family. Always a gifted and determined student, Henry earned a Promise Scholarship to study social work at Njala University. In 2017, Henry graduated with a bachelors degree in social work and was immediately hired by the CRC to assist the SAC program and perform case management duties.
Henry says that working at the CRC is a fulfillment of his life goal to help children with backgrounds like his own. "As a social worker, since I have a passion for helping children, I am also creating an impact in their life. It was my dream to help poor children. Being a social worker, you can work anywhere, helping children and the needy."
The father of a young daughter, Henry has a natural rapport with the CRC children. He enjoys every opportunity to connect the students with their sponsors. "Whenever the children come for letter writing I have so much fun with them. When sponsors visit and we go on home visits, the time we spend with them helps me to know most of the students’ homes," Henry says.
Henry is grateful to work for an organization with faith at the core of the mission. "One of my favorite things about working at the CRC is that we start every day with devotion, bringing the grace of God into our lives before we start working," he says.
The Child Reintegration Centre's education department, led by Education Manager Mabel Mustapha, organized a forum for secondary students to hear from successful graduates of vocational and technical programs. The forum aimed to remove the stigma students and their families may have towards vocational or technical training, and encourage them to seek successful careers in fields that don't require a university degree.
Daniel Lahai, a carpentry teacher at Sierra Leone Opportunities Industrialization Centers (SL-OIC), one of the CRC's approved post-secondary institutions, spoke to the students about training opportunities in the construction field. Mercy Hospital electrician Mohamed Bangura and CRC accountant Lucy Jusu shared their stories of personal success as graduates of votech programs who now have interesting, good-paying jobs with room for advancement. All three speakers attended SL-OIC before embarking on their current careers. Lucy worked for many years at the CRC before going back to school to earn an accounting degree.
On a national level, the 2019 WASSCE exam results were very disappointing, and few students earned the scores required for university acceptance. Job training is an excellent alternative for senior secondary (high school equivalent) graduates. The most recent labor statistics from the World Bank show that just 10% of the population are wage or salaried workers, so good jobs are not easy to come by in Sierra Leone, but welders, electricians, accountants, and other skilled workers are in high demand.
The Child Reintegration Centre regularly holds workshops on healthy parent-child attachment for parents of CRC-enrolled children. Attachment, or normal bonding between parent and child, is the primary mental pillar of a child's development and is essential for a family's health and stability.
Families in Sierra Leone may struggle because of extreme poverty, parental illiteracy, and household instability caused by parents leaving to pursue work. Many of the children enrolled in a CRC program have experienced trauma in their young lives, which may cause them to struggle with behavioral problems. The CRC's attachment workshop helps parents understand the critical importance of bonding, and effective strategies for dealing with behavior challenges without damaging the bond between caregiver and child.
The attachment workshop covers six modules:
- Emmanuel Lamin, CRC Case Manager
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.
Child Reintegration Centre student Mohamed Kamara underwent a successful bilateral hernia surgery at Mercy Hospital. While Mohamed was recovering, the CRC provided additional support to the family, including a cash gift and a 25 kg bag of rice.
Children in the developing world often suffer from hernias, which may be the result of a congenital weakness in the abdominal muscles, or caused by severe coughing that leads to increased abdominal pressure. Left untreated, umbilical and inguinal hernias can lead to severe health complications in children.
Mohamed attends St. Andrews Secondary School, where he is in class SS3. Mohamed is currently not sponsored. If you would like to sponsor this deserving student, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Child Reintegration Centre (CRC) organized a family strengthening workshop for the three external areas served by CRC case management, Fengehun, Manguama, and Pujehun. Counselors Victor Kanu and Assiatu Tarawally tackled some tough topics, including parent-child attachment and teen pregnancy prevention. The event was attended by 96 participants, including teachers, parents, and students. After the workshop, lunch was served to the participants, and some of the children had the opportunity to write to their sponsors.
The Child Reintegration Centre (formerly Child Rescue Centre) held an Attachment Theory workshop organized by CRC counselors Emmanuel and Assiatu. Attachment theory addresses the creation of strong, healthy emotional bonds between parents and their children.
Fifty parents of CRC students were invited to attend the conference, where they learned strategies for strengthening the bond with their children and developing healthy family relationships.
The typical child enrolled in a CRC program has experienced the deprivation of extreme poverty and many have been traumatized by losing parents and other family members. The counselors coached the parents in communication skills, and encouraged them to develop open and honest dialogue with their children to help them heal from trauma or emotional distress.
CRC parent Agnes Boma said it has been difficult for her to develop a close relationship with her teenage daughter, and she appreciated what she learned at the workshop. "From what I learnt from the workshop I will create a bond between myself and my daughter," she said. "I will encourage her to confide in me."