April 24, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Director of Don Bosco Fambul, a child protection agency, has stated that street children would a threat to society if measures were not taken by government and organisations to address their issue, adding that their number continues to swell up on a month by month basis.
Fr. Jorge Mario Crisafulli was speaking on Friday (April 21) at the organisation’s Forth Street office in Freetown during the officially re-launch of the Don Bosco ‘On Wheels’ programme to provide the much needed services for children living on the streets.
A mini bus carrying social workers, nurse and other staff would be visiting between 50 to 60 children on a daily basis to offer medical care, warm meal, counseling and legal aid, especially for youngsters in conflict with the law.
Fr. Crisafulli said majority of children living on the streets were between the ages of 14 to 18 years, with 56% coming from Freetown and 46% from the provinces.
He said street children are orphans with nobody to care for them, thus living them expose to alchoholism, smoking marijuana and engaging in other dangerous activities.
“This is a call to action for all of us working in the interest of children, especially those on the streets. We need to use our talents and skills to deal with this issue. Street children will become a threat to our society if we do not address their issue,” he said.
He said the project was drawn up in the peripheries of Freetown, where hundreds of street boys and girls suffer physical, emotional and sexual abuse day and night.
According to him, the project came to a halt during the Ebola and that after the dreadful outbreak; the bus got out of order and was unable to move again.
He said they were grateful to the ATABAL Foundation-Badajoz in Spain through the support of the Extremadura Government and the Transport Union of Badajoz for donating another used mini bus for them to re-launch the project for the benefits of the kids
“The bus will be parked at strategic points in close vicinity to the slums and places where street children sleep. Between 50 to 60 children will be contacted and offer medical care, including free HIV test and counseling to teens and young people,” he disclosed.
He added that during the months of July and August, children will be offered special facilities and care at their premises, citing medical, a place to sleep and feeding services.
In addition to the aforementioned facilities, Fr. Crisafulli disclosed that workshops would be held covering different topics, from relations and friendship, hygiene and sexuality education and STDs, as well as conflict resolution.
In order to know the reality of children living on the streets, Fr. Crisafulli disclosed that his organisation carried out a survey during September, 2016 and February 17.
Also, Deputy Director, Fr. Emmanuel Ajah said: “This is an important initiative after all because it concerns the future of the children of our great country, Sierra Leone. Don Bosco made this move so as to be closer to the street children in order to bring them to their homes.”
He maintained that apart from a mobile street social work with a bus, the organisation maintains a three months shelter for rehabilitation measure for street children, a family tracing department, counseling and a youth centre that gives opportunity to youngsters for studies, recreate themselves and share problems that are challenging in society.