The Child Rescue Centre staff hosted the first ever "Family Fun Day" with support from a visiting UMVIM team, led by team member and former CRC director Mohamed Nabieu. 42 parents and 75 children attended a festive and fun day of games and sports. The staff and UMVIM team divided into Purple, White and Blue teams, to rotate between activities including football (soccer), volleyball and indoor games. After working up a good appetite, everyone enjoyed fellowship and a delicious lunch.
As CRC programs are transforming to a family based program, the need for case management training has become very important for the CRC staff. While on a return visit to the CRC this summer, Nabs held a collaborative training with the CRC's case managers and partners from the US. The CRC staff and US volunteers have been meeting locally and via Zoom for some months in preparation for the training. The four-day training involved ten participants.
Participants learned the ways and methods case managers use to impact the lives of their students in Sierra Leone, and they were learned techniques for tracking measurements of change. The trainees especially valued learning techniques for approaching teenagers, how to handle bad behaviors, motivational interviewing, and open-ended questioning.
Participants cited the value of learning about role playing, and how it can be used to communicate effectively with children and youth. There was a general consensus that more such training will be very valuable, and the CRC staff plans to coordinate with other organizations to share learning and develop healthy connection.
Members of the July mission team organized the second annual "Teacher Learning Collaborative," a joint project of the Child Rescue Centre and teachers from Bo-area schools.
This year, eight inspiring "teacher-leaders" were invited to participate in a four day "trainer-of-trainers" professional development event, where the participants gained a deeper understanding of children and learning.
Over the course of the week, the group developed a curriculum to use with other teachers in Sierra Leone.
"Our time together was filled with laughter, strong opinions, serious conversations, respect, years of experience, a deep love for children and education and great joy!" missioner Sharon Gardner reported.
The Child Rescue Centre is excited to welcome their new director, Olivia Fonnie. Previously, Olivia was the Director of Christian Education and Specialized Ministry to Children of the United Methodist Church, Sierra Leone Conference, a position she had held since 2011. In that role, she often visited the CRC and interacted with the staff, who are happy to welcome her on board.
Olivia was born in Freetown and has lived her whole life in Sierra Leone. She holds degrees in Theology and Community Development, and certificates in teaching and social development. Olivia was married to her late husband, Samuel, for 26 years. She has an adult son, Aiyu, who is studying to become a doctor.
“Working with children has always being my passion,” Olivia says. She taught at the Albert Academy UMC for many years before becoming the Director of Exams at the school.
She has held many other positions in education and community development, but she says the Directorship of the CRC is a fulfillment of her dream to raise children to their God-given potential.
To be closer to work, Olivia moved into the former Deborah House on the CRC compound, one of the dorms that was renovated to accommodate the shift away from residential care. "I like Bo because it is quiet compared to the bustle of Freetown," she says.
"We have some challenges, but by the grace of God we are meeting them," she says of her new role. What does she like best about being the CRC Director? "Meeting the children! And now I see them all the time! I only have one son, but I have so many kids," Olivia laughs.
"Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Do you love me?’ and he answered yes. Jesus said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' I am happy to be part of this great and dynamic CRC staff here in Bo and in partnership with HCW, to respond to God’s command.”
With the support of their teachers in Bo District, WASSCE pupils met and engaged in practice testing for their exams. The practice tests targeted WASSCE pupils and started with a planning meeting, distribution of the examination’s time table, and finally the practice exam period which lasted five days. After the event, the students’ papers were marked and sent to the education manager. With the support of the examiners and other CRC staff, they were able to identify areas that need specific attention before the exams from the two major subjects (Mathematics and English Language).
After scoring the initial practice exams, three students passed the mathematics section (Hassan Koroma, Kemoh Kallon, and Aminata Kallon) while seven students passed the English Language section (Hassan Koroma, Kemoh Kallon, Aminata Kallon, Alhaji Songu, David Swaray, Robert Bangura, and Vandi Koi Manjama A.). The teachers recognized that the reason for some poor performance was that they were unable to cover the complete academic syllabus with the students up to this point. They also recognized that some students lacked the technical ability to answer questions, especially long essays, letter writing, and summary.
As the CRC has close relationships with school authorities, two of the examiners in the major subjects have voluntarily opted to support the children before the examination for more coaching and providing them with techniques to answer questions. This practice exam event was very helpful to the students.“Coming for such a program like this is a step in the right direction. During the practice test exams I was able to know some of the areas not covered and pay more attention to” said student Vandi Koi Monjama A. Another student, John Sandy, said “I am really happy for the exam’s practice, during the event I was able to know my weakling points”. We wish all of the students luck as they prepare to take their exams!
Case Managers at the Child Rescue Centre recently planned letter writing events for students. These events were planned in order to enhance effective sponsorship and ensure that students in the CRC program living in the most remote and rural areas of Sierra Leone write to their sponsors. Visits were planned to three different districts: the Pujehun District, the Fengehun District, and the Maguama District. All District Case Managers set out to visit their students and captured some great photographs while overseeing the events.
The events were filled with excitement as letters were read, interpreted, and distributed to their respective students. Students loved reading letters from their sponsors and writing letters back to them, making sure to include many fun drawings and stickers! Case managers were able to reach many students on their caseload as well as connect with teachers and community members. Victor S. Kanu, a Case Manager at the Child Rescue Centre said, “During the process I came to understand that teachers at rural communities are determined to support the program, and support the case managers and their children to write to their sponsors”. The community support through the Child Rescue Centre and beyond is such an incredible thing to be a part of!
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.