The Child Reintegration Centre has launched its initiative to rescue street children, collaborating with local organization Street Child UK, which estimates there are as many as 6,500 children living on the streets of Bo. These children may have escaped violence in the home, or they may have been abandoned by parents who are too poor to provide for them. They are in desperate need of shelter, food, education, and a family to love them. This is the case with Momodu and Momoh, brothers identified by Street Child and rescued by the CRC.
Momodu, 14 and Momoh, 12, are from a family of 10 children, of whom four died. The family, originally from a village near Bo, began to fall apart when their mother fled the abuse of her alcoholic husband. She took her daughter, but left the five boys to fend for themselves. Momodu soon ran away, landing on the streets of Bo. He survived by begging for empty cartons from shop owners, which he sold to market women for a few cents. Sometimes he sold metal scraps that he gathered from garages.
Eventually Momodu tired of the rough street life and returned to his village, but the home situation had not changed. His father gave him and his brother Momoh a little money to travel to their auntie's home in Bo, where two of their brothers had gone to escape the turmoil of their home. Sadly, their aunt also turned them away because she had no room for them.
Alone and abandoned, Momodu and Momoh had nowhere to turn but the street. They washed dishes for a woman who sold food at night. In payment, she gave them a little food and money. They slept in market stalls, where they were discovered by Street Child UK, who referred them to the CRC.
The CRC staff brought the brothers into the interim home, took them to Mercy Hospital for testing, and began counseling. The CRC is tracing their family to identify a safe home for them. They want to go back to school, but for the time being, they are so happy to be at the CRC.
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.)
MSWGCA Minister Mabinty Tarawallie will host a nationwide meeting with all registered child protection organizations to encourage attendance at the 1MILLIONHOME/HCW workshop. 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 is launching a Deinstitutionalization department focused on helping orphanages transition from residential to family care. Led 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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
Henry Kebbie works at the Child Rescue Centre (CRC) as the Assistant Coordinator for the Sponsor A Child Program. Henry is also responsible for a caseload of 70 children supported by the CRC’s programs. Engaged to be married soon, Henry is the proud papa of a young daughter. Henry’s story is unique in that he was a child supported by the CRC’s Child Support Program, which provided health and education support from primary through secondary school. After graduation, he applied for and won a Promise Scholarship which enabled him to attend university. Graduating with honors, Henry holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Njala University.
Henry credits his being a CRC student with his path toward becoming a social worker. “It has always been my desire to be a social worker so that I could return to work with an organization like the CRC which is working to save helpless families and especially destitute children,” Henry says. Henry applies the lessons he’s learned to his work with the children on his caseload. “I always encourage them to take their studies very seriously, as I did,” he says. “I went through the same program at the CRC, and now I am working for the CRC. I believe it is important that children are educated and grow up to be a good example for others, just like I am.”
Henry Kebbie was drawn to social work out of a desire to help people - particularly those who are vulnerable. At the Child Rescue Centre (CRC), Henry found an opportunity to help the most vulnerable children and their families. He was deeply interested in community development and wanted to engage in work that would have a deep, lasting and positive impact. Being a case manager for vulnerable children and their families helps him see that impact every day. Henry finds the work at CRC particularly rewarding because of the CRC’s vision and focus to give something positive to the community of Bo.
Henry’s deepest hopes for the children on his caseload are that they all do well in school and find a bright future, and that they all know how deeply they are blessed by God.
Aminata Conteh is the caregiver of two children enrolled in CRC programs, Samuel and Abubakarr. Aminata qualified for the CRC’s microfinance training program through her ongoing commitment to the CRC and her family’s extreme financial vulnerability. She completed the training, was presented with a certificate and given a small loan to launch or revive a business.
Aminata did well in the microfinance training, and has been able to realize her potential upon graduating, receiving her microloan and setting up her small business. She discovered that with the lessons she’d learned, she could be a good businesswoman, make a profit, save for emergency purposes and better support her children.
Members of the CRC staff recently visited her at her market stall to check on the progress of her business and microloan repayment. Aminata shared that prior to her participation in the microfinance training, her small business had failed as a result of poor management, and lack of understanding of simple budgeting skills. Discouraged, she had given up the business, and sat at home for some time, unsure of how to find success.
The class has taught Aminata how to manage her money much better, and now she is able to budget her money, save, and plan for the future to both grow her business and eventually gain her financial independence. With the small loan of approximately $90, she reestablished her market business, and is now making and even saving money. “Since I have launched my business again, I am doing well as a result of the training, “ Aminata says.