August 12, 2020
The Legal Aid Board (LAB) has on Monday, 10 August, 2020, been recognized and presented with two awards, one for its Executive Director and the other for the Board.
The Executive Director was recognized as the “Outstanding Female Personality” of the country, while the Board was awarded as “Outstanding Legal Institution” of the country.
The awards were from King’s Foundation International (KFI), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) working towards community development, social reformation, capacity building and relief work amongst the underprivileged, especially women and children. The awards were not the first in the history of the Board as the latter has become the first port of call for all justice need of the vulnerable.
Making her statement, the Master of Ceremony, Madam Patricia Ganda, who also doubles as the Station Manager of Star Radio, emphasized the importance of the event, stating that LAB has been recognized for its exemplary work in the interest of the poor and vulnerable.
She stated that just as the old adage which says ‘when you wash your hands clean, you eat with kings’ so also LAB has done.
She said LAB has washed it hands clean and as a result is now eating with kings, one of whom is KFI. She said KFI is working with female inmates and has distributed menstrual pads to many female inmates in correctional centres around the country.
She explained the reason why KFI was presenting the two awards to the institution, which she said was the fact that one cannot divorce the Executive Director from LAB. The former she opined has been head of the institution since its inception and has done a lot for vulnerable people and the country as a whole.
Madam Ganda spoke on the reason why the Board is growing bigger every day which she said was that it has a woman with a “big heart” and that she is doing all she could to protect people’s rights especially women and children. As part of those the Executive Director has transformed, Madam Ganda invited to the stage a former head (Five O) of one of the gang groups in Freetown, Street Life, whom she said has been transformed by the Executive Director. The former ‘Five O’ whose name is Samba Sheriff, said the Executive Director has transformed his life from that of a gangster to a taxi driver.
In an overview about the organization, it Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mrs Beulah Michaels said KFI is a registered NGO since 2014 and has contributed in changing people lives. She said KFI has changed women’s lives especially the vulnerable from zero to hero. This she said they did during the Ebola scourge, the August 14 mudslide disaster and now the coronavirus. She averred that the organization trains women in skills development and has a vocational institute in Kono. She added that they also give scholarships to vulnerable children, widows and religious institutions or houses.
Mrs Michaels said KFI has been taking notes of the activities of the LAB, especially those having to do with women and children. She further expressed KFI’s interest and willingness to work with LAB in order to continue to protect and empower women on their rights.
Making her statement after having received her award, the Executive Director of LAB said she was ‘dumbfounded’ over the recognition; noting that the award gives her the opportunity to aspire for more exaltation for herself and for the Board. She averred that the Board is ready to work with KFI because they did not have any partner organization that is working on psychosocial support for female inmates.
She assured KFI of the Board’s readiness to partner with it, adding that the award was not only hers but the entire staff of the Board. She expressed appreciation that apart from hers, KFI also awarded the Board. She thanked the entire staff saying that legal aid work cannot be done by one person alone and therefore everybody is important.
Madam Carlton-Hanciles drew reference to some of the unique successes of the Board in the past few days. She averred that just last week, the Board succeeded in securing the release from the juvenile remand home of a teenage boy that has been in detention for almost three years. The teen she added was arrested all the way from Barawa Wallay Chiefdom in the Falaba district and has never been to Freetown unless during this matter. She said the Board did not only advocate for his release but also facilitate his return and reunion with his family in Barawa-Firawa, the chiefdom headquarter town. Madam Carlton-Hanciles also referenced a dispute between an estrange couple over the sale of their house which matter she said is currently under the purview of Counsel Audrey Williams, who also doubles as the Human Resources Manager of the Board. She said the crux of the said matter was that the husband was alleged to have sold the house he was residing with his wife without the knowing of the latter.
The LAB Director concluded by assuring her audience that the Board will continue to provide the required services to its clients as and when needed.
The ceremony was climaxed with the presentation of the two awards to the Executive Director and the LAB Manager by Madam Isata Suliaman and Mrs Beulah Michaels of KFI respectively.