April 21, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
One of Sierra Leone’s leading child protection agency, Street Child of Sierra Leone, as part of its continued effort in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus, over the weekend collaborated with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs to provide educational support to over a thousand children affected by the deadly outbreak in Bo.
The educational package includes text books, pens, pencils, rulers, mathematical sets, two sets of school uniform, bags and other useful learning materials. Among the beneficiaries also were children with disabilities and those living on the street.
In his remarks, Street Child Country Director, Emmanuel Kelfa Kargbo, said his organization was established in 2004 in the northern headquarter town of Makeni to work with children living on the street without any parental care. He said an organisation that started working with one hundred children is now one of the foremost non-governmental organisations operating in the country with some two hundred and fifty (250) staff, one hundred and eight-one (181) contract staff, and four hundred and twenty (420) teachers.
“Street Child is paying their distance education fees, among others. All of these staff are effectively working with the organization to help eradicate Ebola in the country,” said Mr. Kargbo. “Some of these staff are working as business officers, street workers, Ebola educators, back-to-school staff, and many more.”
Updating the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare on the event, Mr. Kargbo said Street Child is providing educational support to 515 Ebola orphans including 22 survivors from 221 households, as well as 13 children living with disabilities, specifically targeting amputee children under the organisation’s ELOH project, including 472 vulnerable children.
“These beneficiaries are drawn from Kalia village – which is one of the worst hit areas in Bo District, Kaniya, Tikonko, Baomahun, Kpetema Bumpeh, Jembeh, Gumahun among other villages in the district,” he explained.
In his keynote address, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mustapha Bai Atilla, told the gathering that Street Child is one of the trusted partners of his ministry as “it is always ready to give its support whenever called upon”.
The work of the organisation, he noted, is written on the minds of workers at the ministry, describing it as one of the organisations that has participated in very stage in the fight against the Ebola virus.
“If my memory could serve me well, Street Child started with the distribution of Veronica buckets to frontline institutions like my ministry, city and local councils, and the Sierra Leone Police,” recalled Mr. Atilla. “They were also placing buckets with chlorinated water in strategic public places to promote regular hand washing practice.”
According to the deputy minister, the organisation has also been providing food support to quarantined homes, feeding street children nationwide during the two lockdowns, providing psychosocial counseling for children and communities affected by Ebola, and now providing support to vulnerable children. “I am truly impressed with the work of Street Child,” he expressed.
Atilla informed parents and beneficiaries that education is the best weapon they can use to fight poverty, and therefore any support that is directed towards education must be handled with care.
He further encouraged parents and/or caregivers not to sell the items provided for their kids as they are meant purposely for the education of the children. He urged them to send their children to school as government has put measures in place to ensure the effective running of all schools and higher institutions of learning in the country.
In his statement, the Mayor of Bo City Council, Harold Tucker, noted that Street Child is one of the non-governmental organisations in the country that is effectively utilising donor funds received for the purposes of caring for the vulnerable children in the society.
“The work Street Child is doing is being felt in all its operational areas,” he said and assured the Country Director and the Street Child team in Bo that his council will ensure the items presented are used for their intended purpose.
The donation ceremony was witnessed by other dignitaries including the Bo District Council Chairman, representative from the Ministry of Education South, and the media.