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 Child Reintegration Centre and Street Child UK collaborate to identify homeless children and rescue them from the streets of Bo. Recently, Street Child encountered 17-year-old Melvin who had been living on his own for several years and referred him to the CRC for assistance. Even while he was homeless and essentially orphaned, Melvin had continued his education. He recently completed Secondary School. The CRC is in the process of reuniting Melvin to live with his extended family in Liberia. Melvin's story:
My mother was Sierra Leonean, my dad Liberian. My mother migrated to Liberia and engaged in a relationship with my dad. My father won the Diversity Visa lottery and traveled to the US. At that time my mother was carrying me in her womb, according to what she told me. Since my dad went, he did not call and mum too did not call him up to the time she gave birth to me.
When I was growing up, she told me about her family at Moyamba District in Sierra Leone. I was in grade 10 when my mother got ill, in the year 2017, I was crying for help and someone came to help and we both took her to the hospital for treatment. Whilst in the hospital, my mother told me to go home and bring the house documents, and she handed them over to the neighbor who helped take her to the hospital. Before the death of my mother, she asked the neighbor who helped me carry her to the hospital to take care of me, and she accepted. After the death of my mother, the neighbor threw me out of the house my mother left for me.
Over the years I have taken care of myself from the money I made by making and selling shoes in nearby communities. I have been using the money to educate myself and save some for rainy days. One day, I decided to go in search of my relatives to connect with them. But they denied me and some police men took me to their station and later sent me to Bo, so I can find my way out to Liberia. While roaming on the streets of Bo, an organization called Street Child took me to the CRC.
The CRC is like a home. I enjoyed the facilities here and I like the way the staff were talking to me while in the interim home. Because of what has happened to me, I am now well determined to enter university and continue my education since I have completed grade 12. With education I can fight for my right and my people will accept me in the family.
The Child Reintegration Centre held an Attachment Theory workshop for newly reintegrated family units to help create a healthy relationship between the caregivers and children. The workshop curriculum focuses on the formation of secure attachment relationships, and teaches caregivers the "Three T's" of Time, Talk, Touch. Children need three things from their parents or caregivers: time spent together, talking together (not just to or at), and touch, like hugs and hand holding.
"I thank God and CRC for this great opportunity to learn today," parent Fatu said. "I am very happy my child is back home and staying with me. I will continue to love him, care for him, and comfort him. I will try hard to always remember the '3 T's' and put them in practice."
"Taking care of a child indeed is really challenging," parent Sao observed. "Especially those that have tasted the street for some period. But I am encouraging all caregivers to do all they can to see the success of these children. What we have learned today, let's try to put in practice and also to pass the knowledge to others."
Isha, a runaway who was reunited with her family, had this to say: "I thank God and the CRC for bringing me back to my family. I have been in the street for four months and life was not really pleasant. No food, shelter, clothes, or caring for me. But now I am back to school, attached back with my family and friend."
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