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."
The CRC is proud to announce that Finance Manager Lucy Jusu had graduated with a Bachelors degree in Accounting and Finance from the Royal College of Theology and Administration, under KEISIE International University.
Lucy is an original CRC employee, having joined the staff in 2000 as an administrative assistant. In 2014, Lucy was promoted to Business Manager, and once more promoted to Finance Manager in 2018.
In 2016, Lucy was awarded a Ginny Wagner scholarship to pursue a university degree, named for the former Executive Director of Helping Children Worldwide.
"Dreams die slowly when opportunities are absent," Lucy says. "This was the dream I had but the realization of this heavenly dream was actualized by the divine intervention of the Ginny Wagner Scholarship Program.”
Child Welfare Programs Liaison Mohamed Nabieu represented HCW at World Without Orphans' global forum in Chiang Mai, Thailand last month. WWO's mission is helping children remain in, be reunited with, or regain a healthy family, so that they can reach their God-given purpose. As a "care leaver" (someone who grew up in an orphanage) Mohamed was a featured speaker at the conference. In addition to presenting as a care leaver, Nabs was a co-presenter with Andrew Schneidler of 1MillionHome, sharing the Child Reintegration Centre's experience transitioning from an institutional model of care to a family-based model. HCW/CRC is a globally recognized leader in care reform and in how to transition to family-based care.
"Keeping families together should play a pivotal role in childcare. Family is firmly entrenched into our bloodlines and DNA, and it is through a family that secure attachment and healthy relationships are born," Mohamed told the attendees. "Poverty being the driving force for separating families, taking children and putting them into orphanages just deepens the separation by adding emotional and psychological aftermath to it. Part of God's design, families as natural systems, are meant to uphold each other through both favorable and odd seasons. With poverty and other crisis, orphanages or institutions for children should not take the lead as the only and ongoing solution."
"Families may be poor in providing the materialistic support to their children, but they are rich in providing genuine love to them. Our role as leaders is to partner with them for their success at all levels," he concluded. HCW is collaborating with WWO and other child-focused organizations to support the global movement to help children grow up in caring families, instead of institutions.
Attendees learned strategies for family reintegration and preparation of foster and adoptive families, as well as case management tools for assessing children's well-being.
The CRC is pleased to welcome Assiatu Tarawally and Andrew Forbie to the staff. Assiatu is joining the team of case managers who monitor the CRC students' academic progress and well being. Andrew is the new Monitoring and Evaluation Officer who will collect, analyze and report data to help the CRC improve programming, and communicate progress to partners. Andrew will work with M&E Project Lead Sam Bundren to establish a data management system.
Assiatu graduated with a bachelors degree in social work from Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone. She served an internship at Don Bosco Fambul, a Christian ministry that cares for street children in Freetown, and also volunteered for Project Pikin. Assiatu is the youngest child in her large family, who live in Freetown. Assiatu is a committed Christian who enjoys reading and dancing. "I love gaining new experiences, dealing with challenges, and finding a way out," Assiatu says. "I have a passion for children, and I want to contribute towards nation building."
Before coming to the CRC, Andrew served as Governance and Research Coordinator for People's Foundation for Humanity Development, a Sierra Leone-based NGO. Previous to that, he was a data collector for the World Food Programme in Liberia. He holds a bachelors degree in sociology from the University of Sierra Leone, and a secondary education teaching certificate from Milton Margai College.
Andrew is married and has three children and one foster child. He enjoys traveling to new places with his family and listening to music. He is a devoted Christian evangelist and musician who plays the keyboard and drums. "I am excited to work at CRC to represent and promote its mission, vision, core values and Biblical principles," Andrew says.
The Child Rescue Centre is encouraging Senior Secondary school graduates to consider vocational or technical education if they don't do well on the college entrance exam. Throughout West Africa, graduates of Senior Secondary School (high school equivalent) sit for the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), to determine their eligibility for further education. Upon receiving their results, CRC students are welcomed to apply for a Promise Scholarship for university or votech programs. Many CRC students who scored high on the WASSCE have pursued university degrees including medicine, engineering, journalism, applied science, or social work. However, the test is difficult and many students don't earn scores that will gain them entrance to university.
The CRC aims to remove any stigma about votech education, and help every student become a self-sufficient, contributing member of their community. CRC Director Olivia Fonnie and other staff members recently met with graduates to encourage them to consider vocational or technical training.
There are many successful individuals who do not go to college; they went to technical or vocational school," CRC Case Manager Victor Kanu explained. CRC graduate Amara Foday used his scholarship to attend welding school, a highly sought-after skill in Sierra Leone (read about Amara here) and is now enjoying a career in the booming Sierra Leone construction industry. CRC students have successfully completed vocation and technical education programs including catering, tailoring, and auto mechanics.
The CRC is offering extra tutoring and preparation classes for the students who decide to take the WASSCE a second time.
Is there anything more exciting than getting new school supplies? Child Rescue Centre case managers visited Manguama village to deliver backpacks and school supplies for the children who are enrolled in the CRC. Earlier this month, the staff held a workshop at the CRC compound to inform new parents about the CRC's education policy, and also distributed school supplies to the children.
You are all Christian leaders. You do the uncomfortable thing because it is right. You do the hard thing, the right thing. It is possible, and it can be done. You can move those children to loving homes, we have done it, so it can be done!
Last month, HCW’s Child Welfare Programs Liaison Mohamed Nabieu (Nabs) presented about his experience growing up in an orphanage to a special panel at the 1MILLIONHOME/Agape Family Reintegration Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. Nabs, Ruth Wacuka and Peter Mthui (both from Kenya) shared their experiences as "care leavers," children who age out of institutional care without being placed in a family. The care leavers are on a mission to help child welfare advocates understand the impact of growing up in an institution, and encourage the the reintegration of families. The panel presentation was extremely well-received by the workshop participants, prompting many follow-up questions.
Having grown up in different countries and orphanages, the stories of Peter, Ruth and Nabs are unique, but they share many similarities. They are passionate and compelling advocates for children in institutional care, and their stories are gaining a great deal of interest among child welfare programs around the world. The trio will be presenting again at the World Without Orphans Global Forum in Chiang Mai, Thailand this October.
Helping Children Worldwide is partnering with the 1MILLIONHOME Foundation to prepare and host a week-long Family Reintegration Workshop in Sierra Leone in 2020. When 1MILLIONHOME learned that the CRC was the first Sierra Leonean orphanage to successfully complete this transition, they offered to help support the workshop so that the CRC staff can train other orphanage directors and government officials to learn how to transition their own programs to family-based care.
The care leavers had five minutes each to tell their stories, excerpted below:
The care leavers’ presentations were followed by an audience Q&A.
Nabs: “[The Child Rescue Centre] continues to support the children’s education after they leave the orphanage, but now they live with families, building bonds, trust, and relationship. [The CRC] continues to support the child. We have done something very simple. Everything stays the same, we have just changed the sleeping location of the child. Our organization is now focused on family empowerment, micro finance training, and case management. We are building the family’s dignity to care for their own child. When a family becomes empowered, they are then able to mentor other families.”
Ruth: “I recommend Singing to the Lions (A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Violence in Our Lives, by Catholic Relief Services) a 10 week program to address trauma. Living in care and exiting cause trauma. Children need one on one counseling with a therapist. So many out there are still not able to talk about their experience.
Peter: “We are good at reacting, not pro-acting. Rather than thinking about how to fix what is broken, let’s focus on the kids in institutional care now - how can we get them home and end the cycle of trauma sooner?”
Nabs closed the care leavers presentation with words of motivation and encouragement. “We must address the cause, not the symptom. We rescue these children from the crisis, but we don’t address the cause of their crisis. Then when they go back home, they’re back in the crisis. You are all Christian leaders. You do the uncomfortable thing because it is right. You do the hard thing, the right thing. It is possible, and it can be done. You can move those children to loving homes, we have done it, so it can be done!”
“We are all broken, but it is well,” Nabs concluded.
Peter, Nabs, and Ruth had the opportunity to meet with 1MILLIONHOME COO Michele Schneidler and pastor and author Francis Chan, who was also a presenter at the conference.
Microfinance graduates trained to mentor other CRC parents; new parents enrolled in microfinance program
The CRC recently began training graduates of the Microfinance Program to mentor other parents, so that they can learn microfinance skills to help their families become financially stable. For the first training, the CRC chose eight parents who have demonstrated success in their microfinance businesses since graduating the program. To become mentors, they were coached on the roles and responsibilities of a mentor, and how they can support the process of training new participants. Eight CRC parents completed the training and will begin mentoring other parents: Gbessay Sesay, Saffiatu Dakowa, Samuel James, Catherine Ngaliwa, Baindu Sumbu, Fatmata Mattia, Janet Turay, and Fatmata J. Amara. The new mentors will receive a second microfinance loan as a reward for faithfully paying back their first loan on time.
On June 21st, a meeting was held for a new group of 25 CRC parents who would like to enroll in the Microfinance Program and learn strategies for improving their financial stability so they can take better care of their children. Victor Kanu, lead facilitator of the Family Strengthening Program, informed the parents that the training will cover seventeen topics that will change their household and family lifestyle, including money management, budgeting, planning, and saving. During the initial meeting, the participants were given the task of developing business plans for three different potential businesses. These plans will be used throughout the training, and the CRC staff and mentors will consult with the parents at the end of the training to help them choose the best business plan. The actual training will launch July 28th, and cover two topics per meeting. At the conclusion of the training, there will be a certification ceremony and a loan distribution for the amount of five hundred thousand leones to each graduate (approximately $56.)
Sponsor A Child Assistant Coordinator Henry Kebbie, who assisted with the training, thanked the participants for coming to the meeting, noting that this program is not for the parents, but rather for their children. He encouraged the parents to look for businesses that will yield a greater profit, and advised them to utilize the money well so that they can provide food, transportation, and other necessary items for their children to live happy and comfortable lives. The CRC staff are excited and encouraged to see the impact these trainings are having in the lives of CRC families and their communities.
After serving as the Child Rescue Centre Director for more than two years, Mohamed Nabieu couldn’t leave the CRC and Sierra Leone without a very unique farewell. He took the opportunity to take the hardworking staff on a well-earned holiday but also ensured that the time spent away would continue to build the skills and capacity of the team by including time to continue refining their leadership skills. The event lasted for two days in February at Kent Beach.
Mrs. Olivia Fonnie, the Director of Christian Education\Specialized Ministry to Children, was on hand to present on the topic “Work Ethics,” explaining the importance of workplace ethics and providing examples. Fonnie also spoke about ways to demonstrate a strong work ethic, and discussed examples of ethics violations in the workplace. The presentation was followed by a highly interactive discussion among the staff.
Mohamed Nabieu’s presentations based on Patrick Lencioni’s work were on the five dysfunctions of a team,and the four disciplines of a healthy organization. Nabieu shared the dysfunctional interactions that can make an organization inefficient and ineffective, and urged the staff to embrace the four disciplines of healthy organizations instead. Staff were encouraged to continue to develop their skills in working cohesively, maintaining organizational clarity, communicating and even over-communicating, and reinforcing clarity through human systems.
The presentations shared by Mrs. Fonnie and Mr. Nabieu are built on an ongoing practice of weekly leadership discussions where staff read and reflect on various leadership materials in order to continue to be an organization of excellence.