Although efforts are complicated by the COVID outbreak, the Child Reintegration Centre continues to identify children at risk, working in collaboration with Street Child UK. Here are a few recent case of rescue and reintegration.
Patricia and her cousin Anita, originally from Bonthe District, had been sent to Bo to live with a family friend so they could attend primary school. The "aunty" had a small business peddling between Bonthe and Bo. The three of them were living happily together until the aunty had a stroke and could no longer ply her trade. Life became very difficult, as the only way to survive was to sell bunches of potato and cassava leaves gathered from the swamp near their home.
One day, the girls had been sent out to sell Le 40,000 worth of potato leaves (about $4). As they were walking home, Anita accidentally dropped the money. The girls were afraid they would be punished for losing the money, so they ran away. Like so many street children, they slept in the market stalls, rising early each morning to go in search of food and odd jobs. The girls had been on the street for three or four weeks when the CRC case managers were made aware of their situation. The CRC traced their aunty and reunited her with the girls. They have been enrolled in the CRC's family support program, and will continue attending classes when schools reopen. The assistance their family receives eases the financial pressure, and ensures the girls can stay in school. The CRC case managers continue to work with the family to help them cope with their challenges.
12 year old Mariama's story is similar. Her mother left the father of her four children, taking Mariama with her, to marry a man who makes his living as a palm wine tapper in Bo. Palm wine is a fermented beverage made from the sap of palm trees, popular throughout Africa. Life became very difficult for Mariama's mother and stepfather and Mariama was expected to help the family survive by selling palm oil around the neighborhood. One day, she misplaced some of the earnings and ran away from home to escape punishment.
Mariama slept on the verandas of various homes, until she came to the notice of Street Child UK, who contacted the CRC.
The CRC traced the family and quickly realized how vulnerable they are. "At times it is difficult to have a day’s meal," Mariama's mother told the case mangers. The family has been enrolled in the CRC family support program, and they are happy to have Mariama returned to them.
After the death of their father in Mattru Jong, Salamatu and her elder sister moved to Bo. Salamatu's sister enrolled her in an Islamic primary school, and she was eventually able to promote to Junior Secondary. After that, things started to fall apart. “Life became difficult for my sister and husband. I started selling cold water and foofoo on the street to make ends meet,” Salamatu says. The husband sometimes became angry with her and threw her out of the house. “This kept on going on for some time, until one day I decided to follow some of my friends to the street.” Salamatu was brought to the CRC by Street Child UK, and has been placed with a caregiver.