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MATCOPS hosts DfID/UKAID Delegation in Bumbuna

May 23, 2017

The delegation pays a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief of Kalangosia Chiefdom, A.B.Y Koroma III

Matei Initiative Empowerment Program for Sustainable Development (MATCOPS) recently hosted a high profiled delegation from DfID/UKAID in Bumbuna, Kalangosia Chiefdom, Tonkolili district.

The team, led by Sally Taylor, Head of Office – Sierra Leone/Liberia, was on a familiarisation visit to MATCOPS’ End Child Marriage Safe Centres in the town on 10th May 2017.

The purpose of the visit was to assess how the beneficiaries are faring on with the programme which started in July 2016, how the Life Skills Curriculum for Out-of-School Adolescents is being utilised, and how the project is impacting the lives of the target beneficiaries and the community.

Sally Taylor was accompanied by Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Adviser – United Kingdom; Chris Berry, Senior Education Adviser – Sierra Leone (SL); Amit Bhandari, Health Adviser – SL; and Jeremiah Sawyer, Assistant Program Manager for the Basic Services Team – SL.

The five-member delegation observed the adolescent girls being tutored at two Safe Centres at Bendugu Road, Fuel Farm, out of 20 centres that are being administered by MATCOPS in the chiefdom. They also interacted with the beneficiaries on the significance of the project to them, and held discussions with MATCOPS’ Executive Director, Mamusu Williams; the UNFPA Youth and Adolescent Cluster Lead, Fiona Kaikai; and the Mentors/Programme Coordinators.

The project beneficiaries, comprising adolescents aged 10-19, demonstrated hands-on knowledge in life skills that they have acquired over the last nine months, including braiding, Arts and Crafts.

The visit was climaxed by drama performances on Critical Thinking by the girls, aged 15-19; and on Hygiene, by the 10-14 year-olds, using cholera as case study.
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According to MATCOPS’ Executive Director, the project aims at improving skills, creating safety and exploring opportunities for girls in Sengbeh Chiefdom, Koinadugu District and Kalangosia Chiefdom in Tonkolili District, both in the north, targeting 53, 000 primary beneficiaries over a period of four years.

‘Each of the two chiefdoms can now boast of 20 relatively equipped and functioning Safe Centres and Girls Clubs that are empowering the beneficiaries and contributing significantly to transforming their lives and communities’, she said.

The partnership between UNFPA and MATCOPS has increased knowledge and awareness on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHRs) by adolescents and young people, being cascaded to them through lessons such as Life skills, Creative and Critical Thinking, Personal Hygiene, Family Planning, Teenage Pregnancy, Delay in Sex and Human Rights issues.

The delegation paid a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief, Alimamy B. Y. Koroma III of Kalangosia Chiefdom. The team, which received a warm reception, was accompanied by the MATCOPS Executive Director and a cross section of her programme officers and staff.

PC Koroma III hailed MATCOPS for their efforts and achievements so far in their commitment to end early marriage and teenage pregnancy in the chiefdom in particular, and the district as a whole.

‘This is a viable project in the community that has contributed to significant reduction in early marriages in this chiefdom, through community mobilisation and constructive engagements with bike riders, the major perpetrators, among others. Our only major challenge now is the high prevalence of teenage pregnancy which we are still battling with’, the traditional leader said.

As Bumbuna, the operational area, is a mining community, most girls have been dropping out of school due to the lack of adequate parental care and support to them, the influence of young men and the elderly who lure them into early and most times unprotected sex, and the effects of unjust social structures.

The centres were set up to cater for out-of-school and dropouts, but school going children are also benefiting from the services provided.

The End Child Marriage Safe Centres programme, a component of the Programme to accelerate action against child marriage in Sierra Leone, is being implemented by MATCOPS in partnership with the UNFPA Sierra Leone Country Office, which was represented by Fiona Kaikai.

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