The Child Reintegration Centre has rescued ten teenaged boys from the street and reunited them with their families. The CRC has helped each of the boys re-enroll in a local secondary school or in a technical-vocational education program.
The CRC counseling unit held a workshop for the boys and their parents to help them with the challenges of reunion and separation from street life. Among other topics, the workshop addressed the dangerous effects of drug and alcohol abuse, as most of the children reintegrated from the street have been abusing substances to help cope with the hardship of street life.
The families, all of whom are economically vulnerable, will receive a stipend to help the care for their children, as well as much needed mattresses, linens, and toiletries.
Dr. Aruna Steven and Matron Augusta Kpanabaum of Mercy Hospital facilitated the medical information portion of the workshop. With their enrollment in the CRC, the children become eligible to receive free health care at Mercy.
Representatives from the local chapter of All for One witnessed part of the workshop. The CRC is helping organizations like All for One transition away from institutional care towards family care for vulnerable children.
The children and their families all expressed gratitude to the CRC, for being reunited and for having the opportunity to get an education. “With what I have learned, I say 'bye bye' to cigarettes and marijuana,” former street child Musa said. "Learning a skill is better than collecting and selling metals on the street."
The CRC has launched their new Attachment Theory “Train the Trainer” workshop, with the aim of helping child welfare organizations understand the impact of trauma on children, and learn how to help parents and caregivers in their programs develop healthy relationships with the vulnerable children in their care.
The Train the Trainer workshop was created to expand the impact of the AT Workshop that the CRC team uses to train caregivers enrolled in its program. The CRC hopes to offer this training to social workers in child welfare organizations all over Sierra Leone, so that the families in their care will have access to tools they can use to build stronger, healthier family relationships.
The University of Maine and CRC collaborated to create the Attachment Theory curriculum three years ago for the orphanage staff, with plans to extend the training to caregivers as the CRC transitioned to a family care program. With this training, the CRC has trained 20 social workers who manage thirteen different organizations from Makeni, Pujehun, Kenema and Bo, who are now empowered to train their own caregivers. The potential is for Attachment Theory to positively impact children and families all across Sierra Leone.
The Attachment Theory "Train the Trainer" workshop was the first opportunity for the CRC to host participants in the newly renovated onsite lodgings. Meals were also provided for the guests.
David Musa, the CRC’s Transition Coaching and Mentoring Department Senior Consultant, led the Train the Trainer workshop. The workshop opened with a devotion by Lucy Jusu and welcoming remarks by CRC Director Olivia Fonnie, who thanked the participants for attending and assured them they would not regret their attendance.
David took the participants through a demonstration of what it means to be a “Participatory Trainer.” The CRC case managers each taught a different topic related to the care of orphaned and vulnerable children. Imourana Bockarie provided a daily recap of the concepts taught in the workshop.
At the end of the training, each participant was awarded a certificate, and provided with a flash drive with all relevant materials, as well as hard copies of the training manual and workbook to take home.
Workshop participant Vanessa said that "every module was of great importance, not only to my organization but also to my personal life. I only ask that the workshop time be extended the next time." The CRC is considering making future workshops longer to give participants more time to engage with the material.
Participant Dennis said, "I will use what I have learned for the children in our orphanage to build more trust, confidence, and love."
KEY WORKSHOP TOPICS AND FACILITATORS:
Scenes from the workshop:
Reported by Victor Kanu, CRC Case Manager
Hannah Smith has been named Senior Prefect of Methodist Girls High School in Bo. We are so proud of this Child Reintegration Centre student, and how she has overcome insurmountable obstacles in her young life.
Senior prefect is a big honor, but also a huge responsibility, roughly equivalent to being the president of the student body in a US high school. As senior prefect, Hannah represents the students before the administration, organizes events, helps maintain discipline and academic performance, and mentors other students. Hannah was selected on the basis of a written examination, a verbal interview with the school administration, and her excellent academic performance.
"I am very happy for this position," Hannah says. "I can now talk to my colleagues in school on issues affecting their education and other related activities. This has motivated me to study more to maintain my performance in school.
Hannah comes from a very vulnerable family, and her childhood was not easy. For several years, she and her brother Paul were separated from their handicapped father, who was unable to care for them until his situation was stabilized with the help of the Child Reintegration Centre's family strengthening program. Hannah and Paul were reunited with their father Paul Sr after living for several years in the residential centre during a very precarious time for their family. You can read more about their story in our Fall 2018 magazine.
Hannah has always wanted to be a leader in her home, community, church and school. "My aim is to be president of Sierra Leone," she says. Her best friend Elizabeth is proud of her friend. "I am blessed to have a friend like Hannah," Elizabeth says. "She has helped me change my negative behavior to a positive one. She is like a mentor to me."
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