Most of the students enrolled in Child Rescue Centre programs live in and around Bo, where the CRC headquarters and facility is located. However, the CRC now supports students in Freetown, Makeni, Kenema, Fengehun and other places. Recently, CRC staff who manage the Family Care Program traveled to Freetown to conduct home and school visits with the CRC students living with their families there.
Many people have the misconception that the Child Rescue Centre is a place located in Bo, Sierra Leone, where children live. In fact, the residential program of the CRC is the smallest of all CRC programs, making up just 3% of the total number of students who are supported by the CRC. The majority of the CRC students live with their own or foster families, and receive financial and medical support that allows them to enjoy growing up within a family and community, while also providing them with access to education and medical care that would otherwise be out of reach.
The CRC staff has worked hard for 18 months to ensure that the remaining residential children have had ample opportunity to form attachments with the families with whom they’ll be reunified this summer. Families and children have benefited from frequent interactions both at the CRC facility and in their own homes within the Bo community, including having children spend weekends and long vacations at their families’ homes. The children and their families were very excited to leave the CRC on March 23rd in order to spend the Easter Holidays together. All the students will return to the CRC on April 3rd, 2018.
Due to the ongoing presidential elections being held in Sierra Leone, a special session was held with the parents prior to the children’s departure. Members of the CRC staff addressed various topics relating to child care and protection during the busy and somewhat hectic election season. The program concluded with refreshments for parents, children, and CRC staff at the CRC dining hall.
The newest additions to the CRC’s Child Support Program are 20 children who live in Fengehun Village, about 25 kilometres from Bo. The Mercy Hospital Outreach team holds a clinic in Fengehun each month, and now CRC staff make the trip as well, in order to conduct school and home visits.
The staff recently conducted a workshop and letter event for children in the village. Parents, pupils and teachers were present at this meeting. Topics included CRC activities, benefits of the program, the role of parents and teachers in monitoring their children and helping with their studies, commitments of parents and community, and alternative forms of discipline.
At the end of the workshop, the students wrote to their sponsors.
On Sunday, March 18th, First UMC of Colleyville held a dual annual kickoff event for their thriving Sponsor A Child initiative, and the Run for Rescue 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk to support missioners who serve in Sierra Leone. The church members' response was especially enthusiastic, due to a beautiful Sponsor A Child display with photos of students sponsored by church members, and children who need sponsors. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the event, with special thanks to Ruth Ann Meek, SAC coordinator for First UMC, Karen Roeming, partner church representative, and Sharon Gardner and Neil McKinnon, Run for Rescue organizers. First UMC is grateful to partner church Otterbein UMC for inspiring their new SAC display.
For the past year, the CRC staff has been working to strengthen the bonds between the residential children and their families. These activities have included having the children visit their families' homes on Sunday afternoons, and during weekends or holiday breaks, and providing counseling to both children and families. Families are also welcome and encouraged to visit the CRC facility for sports events, Wednesday devotions, and parenting workshops.
On January 26th, the CRC's Reunification Committee led parents in a Nurturing Hearts workshop focused on equipping parents with strategies for forming and sustaining health attachments with their child. The Nurturing Hearts curriculum was first provided to the CRC staff through a training led by Patrice Penney and Beth Ratchford in July of 2015. Following the workshop, parents had the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with their children. Parents have also been encouraged to visit with their child every fourth night from now until the children are finally reunified with them. The remaining 20 children will be reunified with their 'forever families' later this year.
Manchester UMC (Manchester, Missouri) has a uniquely talented and enthusiastic children’s choir, directed by Lori Borger. Every year, the choir of fourth and fifth graders, called "Music Makers," stages a musical and selects a cause to receive the love offering taken at the event. This year, Lori and her kids chose the Child Rescue Centre as beneficiaries of their musical, "Rescue in the Night."
Written by Tom Long and Alan Pote, "Rescue in the Night" is a musical retelling of the Biblical story of Daniel in the Lions' den. “The story of Daniel is one of courage and trust in God." Lori explained. "We made one of our themes this year about rising to our full potential, like Daniel did, without compromising… and also allowing others to rise to THEIR full potential, by standing up for friends who are being bullied, like Daniel was by the King’s advisors. We also rise by doing what we can to help ALL children – even those we don’t know, halfway around the world - rise to THEIR full potential. That’s what Helping Children Worldwide does every day – and we are honored to be able to support your work.”
While planning and practicing for the annual concert, Lori encourages her kids to shoot for the stars, while helping them to maintain reasonable expectations. “I always set what I believe is a realistic goal for the kids,” Lori told us, “as I want them to experience that feeling of success....and the excitement of exceeding their goal...so our goal was to fund a child's tuition for every child in our entire Children's Music program, which is 76 kids, or $3800. I'm happy to report that these kids touched hearts in a very powerful way.”
The kids blew that goal out of the water, and the offering collected at the three concerts held on March 3rd and 4th raised over $10,000 for the Child Rescue Centre. At the cast party, Borger shared the news. “Well, just as I predicted - excitement and joyful screaming ensued!” she shared.
Clearly, the musical was a smashing success, but Lori sees a much deeper purpose than simply showcasing the kids' awesome talent or raising funds. “Each time we are able to give children the experience of taking a personal role in lifting someone else up in a significant way, I can almost visibly see THEM rise as well… they sit a little taller; they understand that even as a child, they can collectively harness the powerful force of doing GOOD…and how GOOD that feels. I just love seeing the light in their eyes – and tears in some, too - when they realize that they have made the world a better, brighter place for someone.
"It has been the joy of my life to be able to do what I love: theater and music and children – and to let children experience the joy of lifting others up, and empower them to know that they can make the world a better place for someone else at any age, when we come together for a common good. AND, I love introducing them to just a small fraction of the amazing programs going on all over the world, like the Child Rescue Centre, that are dedicated to helping others….there are SO many ways to plug in and help our hurting world!"
Otterbein UMC in Harrisonburg, VA, pastored by Rev. Adam Blagg, really loves their sponsored students.
The partner church proudly displays the profiles of all the Child Rescue Centre students sponsored by church members in a prominent place, with Psalm 147:4 posted above: "He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names."
The church's strong commitment to the CRC and pride in their students, is evident in the "Otterbein's Star Scholars" display. It's like a display you might see in the hallway of an American school, although a closer look reveals that the students are 4500 miles away.
A recent sponsorship event at the church added eight more students to the total, whose pictures will soon be added to the display.
(Click here to go directly to the Journeys of Faith Facebook Page. The group is private and you will need to ask to join.)
Want to learn more about the global movement to transition children from residential/orphanage care to family-based care? Please plan to participate an inspiring and informative study hosted by Helping Children Worldwide. Through prayer, selected readings, small group activities, and discussions, this study provides a stepping stone for sharing, learning, and taking action together. The Journeys of Faith curriculum is provided by Faith to Action will equip participants with
From March 12 - April 6, HCW is facilitating an online study via private Facebook Group. You will engage at your own pace, but you can expect participation to include about an hour of engagement every week, including watching videos, reading resources and responding to 2-3 posts. Click here for the Journeys of Faith Facebook page, or email Laura Horvath at email@example.com to sign up.
Prefer to participate in person? Stay tuned for an opportunity to attend a one-day workshop instead.
The Faith to Action Initiative serves as a resource for Christian groups, churches, and individuals seeking to respond to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children around the world.
In January 2017, Rosa (The CRC Residential Counselor) started her classes to pursue a continuing education certificate from the Holy Rosary Sisters Counseling and Peace Centre. Her studies included career counseling, psycho-social counseling, and pastoral counseling. The year-long program ended in a three-week practical internship Rosa conducted at Mercy Hospital.
"I want to thank the CRC, HCW, Beth Ratchford and the Morells for all their support in moving me to another level in the academic field. Of course I am now loaded with knowledge relating to my job and position as a counselor." Rosa's parents, a team of CRC staff, and other guests were all present at the Holy Rosary Compound for the ceremony. Certificates were presented by the Director of the Centre, Sister Okechi, and the ceremony was followed by photos and refreshments.
Vulnerable people on the street of Bo city received a Christmas gift in the form of uncooked food items (rice, salt, Maggi seasoning and onion.) This distribution was done by some staff and children in both the Child Support and Family Care Programs. The children and staff gave packages of food items to more than 50 vulnerable people on the streets and wished them a Merry Christmas.