July 24, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
In a bid to empower and transform the lives of young people living in slum communities, the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA), through their “Pull Slum Pan Pipul” project, has doled out over one hundred and forty million Leones to youths in over seven slum communities in the country to do business.
Speaking yesterday at the YMCA conference hall at Fort Street in Freetown, before the money was handed over to a group called Federation of Urban Poor Sierra Leone (FEDUP), Francis Reffle, who is manager of the YMCA Slum Project, said they have a history working with slum dwellers in the country, especially those in Freetown.
Reffle said the project was designed to support and empower young people living in slum communities in order to make them self-reliant.
He revealed that beneficiaries had been trained in different business ventures, while they were asked to develop a business proposal which was presented to the YMCA for approval.
“We are going to give you this money as a grant and mind you we shall be monitoring you on how you are going to put it in use. That is why we partner with CODOHSAPA who are going to be in charge of monitoring you and at the end you are going to pay back the money to them. We are kindly asking you to put the money in the right use,” Reffle admonished the grantees.
He said they were the first batch of beneficiaries and that if they pay back on time other groups would be targeted, adding that a successful implementation of the scheme would bring change and development in the lives of slum dwellers in the county.
Also speaking, Yirah Conteh, chairman of FEDUP, thanked the YMCA and said they appreciate their timely intervention in impacting the lives of slum dwellers in the country.
“My brothers and sisters we should be thankful to YMCA for recognizing us the slum dwellers and giving us this money to empower ourselves. Even the ones we sing and dance for in the name of politicians have never done such for us,” said an elated Conteh.
He called on beneficiaries to make sure they use the money for the right purpose and pay back on time so that others can also benefit from the YMCA Slum Dwellers Prosperity project.
He said over the years the YMCA has been providing lots of goodies for slum dwellers, including building toilets, community centres and water tanks.
YMCA Sierra Leone has since 2007 implemented the Slum Project in the Kroo Bay community in central Freetown, tremendously impacting lives through community development schemes and training opportunities for mostly the youthful population.
The “Pull Slum Pan Pipul” project is funded by Comic Relief (a UK-based international charity organization) for cities initiative that seeks to address the growing challenges of slum growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2012, after a scoping survey of cities across Africa, four cities were selected – Freetown (Sierra Leone), Kampala (Uganda), Lusaka (Zambia) and Cape Town (South Africa) – as intervention areas.
In Freetown, five organizations were selected as direct implementing partners and grantees after successfully submitting proposals. The five successful grantees coalesced to form the “Freetown Urban Slum Initiative” or “Pull Slum Pan Pipul” programme as a vehicle to strengthening collaboration and maximizing use of resources and creating impact and results.