March 16, 2018
Matei Initiative Empowerment Program for Sustainable Development (MATCOPS), in collaboration with Population Council, government of Sierra Leone, and support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has held a dialogue session for community Stakeholders to put an end to child marriage in Bumbuna and Kabala towns.
The dialogue session, themed ‘Breaking the circle of intergenerational transmission of poverty through adolescent girl’s empowerment’, attracted stakeholders and young people in both Bumbuna in the Tonkolili District and Kabala in Koinadugu District of Sierra Leone.
Speaking during the session, Chairman Amadu Wurie said the intervention of MATCOPS in Bumbuna Chiefdom was a blessing as the chiefdom over the years had huge numbers of early marriage and teenage pregnancy.
He said the programme would help change the mindset of parents giving away their children into early marriage and that girls would also gain positive knowledge on the negative effect of teenage pregnancy.
Also speaking, Paramount Chief Alimamy Yalla Bockarie Koroma III applauded MATCOPS for a job well done within his locality by promoting and creating awareness for girls to be self-reliant.
He said they were happy to have such wonderful programme in their chiefdom which would help salvage the challenge girls face and that education as their best option because that would be the only way they could consider themselves to become self-reliant.
“Most of the girl children within Bendugu town and in Bumbuna Chiefdom are not going to school because most of their parents cannot afford to pay their school fees and take care of other school charges,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Regent Chief, Hassan Mbompa Turay of Kalantuba Chiefdom, said one of the factors that has led to early marriage in that part of the country was that parents continued habit of forcing their children to men.
He said sexual harassment was on the increase in the chiefdom while parents were in the habit of compromising with perpetrators because of money.
One of the beneficiaries of the programme, Agnes K. Turay, said MATCOPS has made it possible for her to go back to school after having spent many years without going to school.
She said MATCOPS has helped provide her with books, bags, cash and other school items and that she was proud to continue her schooling in her chiefdom.
“After I sat the National Primary School Examinations (NPSE) and my parents cannot afford to pay my school fees and buy my school materials, I had no choice but to sit at home but with the help of MATCOPS I went back to school,” Agnes K. Turay said.
In her statement,Executive Director of MATCOPS, Mamusu Williams, said on behalf of MATCOPS she felt proud to be in the midst of stakeholders for the implementation of the project that would help improve the lives of girls in that part of the country.
She added that it was out of interest, concern and love for girls in that part of the country, her organization was making sure that the program was well implemented and become a success to change their lives.
She further said that with the blessing of UNFPA as their implementing partner, they have done immensely well to seeing that the right messages reach the girls and consider themselves with skills training, while they take education as their utmost agenda for them to become future leaders.
She further that girls within the ages of ten to fifteen years needed to be encouraged to take their school very seriously because that would be the only way forward to make themselves important in society.