December 9, 2016 By Emmanuel Okyne (Intern)
Chief of the Grafton Community in the western rural has appealed to humanitarian organizations to help in the establishment of a proper middle- level skills training centre in the community.
Chief Ya Alimamy Conteh was speaking on Wednesday (December 7) at the Grafton Police Barracks during a graduation ceremony of fifteen (15) commercial sex workers, who had completed an intensive skills training on weaving, catering and Gara tie dying.
The training was spearheaded by the Society for Women and Aids in Africa Sierra Leone Chapter (SWAASL) with funds from the Global Fund.
She welcomed the training of commercial sex workers in his community but noted that the absence of a proper training centre was a serious concern, as according to her, girls were engaged in non-profitable activities.
“As the saying goes; the idle mind is the devil’s workshop’. It is our hope that the minds of the grandaunts will be occupied in doing something meaningful and beneficial to the community and their families,” she said.
The Chief implored the grandaunts not to revert to sex trade, as such practice was not healthy because of the risks involved, citing sexual inter-course related sicknesses.
Program Coordinator of SWAASL, Marie Benjamin stated that the organization currently operates in 44 African countries with headquarters in Senegal.
She said women were most exposed to the HIV/AIDS virus, stressing that the role of SWAASL was to create awareness in communities, empowering commercial sex workers, as well as linking patients to hospitals.
Madam Benjamin opined that the training was designed to run a short -term basis, and urged grandaunts to serve as ambassadors in the community so that others would copy from them.
Programme Officer of the National AIDs Secretariat, Kemoh Mansaray said there mandate was to reduce the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDs in communities.
According to him, the grandaunts should count themselves lucky as there were others girls looking out for similar opportunity.
He urged them to make good use of the start-up kits and seed money provided to them, adding, “We will not like to see some of the equipment in the market. Be rest assured that we will be doing on the spot check to see how you are coping.”
“Now you have the empowerment in your hands. Make use of them instead of going out late at night to solicit money from men,” he urged.
Earlier, Maria Sesay, who chaired the occasion, said for over a decade, girls in the community have been going through serious constraints; a situation which she said led most of them to going into commercial sex business to eke a living.
“Those graduating today are courageous to come out and disclose that they are commercial sex workers. Others were ashamed to come forward due to stigmatization in the community,” she said.
She commended Tabornor Women’s Skills Training Centre in Grafton for empowering these girls.
One of the beneficiaries thanked SWAASL for capacitating them in the community and assured that the skills acquired and start-up kits and seed money provided would be used for the intended purpose.