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Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief

by Kidsave International
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Kidsave Sierra Leone Ebola Orphan Relief
Florence with her new family
Florence with her new family

Kidsave has worked in Sierra Leone since 2010, finding families for children displace by war. After the 2014 Ebola virus crisis – Kidsave changed its focus to finding families for children orphaned by that virus in two of the hardest-hit districts – Bo and Kenema.

This work has never been easy to fund. Sierra Leone is a very poor country without the resources to help these children get out of dead-end institutional care and into families. Kidsave has worked for five years to find families, provide microloans and bedkits, books and uniforms for children stuck in orphanages.

To date, 650 children have been served and given the chance for a better future because of Kidsave’s work with our partner, the Foundation for Integrated Development.  

GlobalGiving donors have helped fund this program in part, and Kidsave is very grateful for that support. But funding has not been sustainable and Kidsave can no longer subsidize this work without specific funding for this program. The program is now on hold while we try to secure enough funding to go forward with the plan for 2020.  

We hope to find families for 80 more children in 2020. The work is painstaking and thoughtful, it requires traveling to remote villages, speaking with elders, assessing the appropriateness of families, holding events for people to meet children in need of families, training social workers and new parents, and monitoring placements to be sure the children are going to school, getting enough to eat, cared for properly, and thriving.

To our friends at GlobalGiving, we ask you to help us continue this work in a bigger way, if possible. If you can, please share this with your friends. We want to raise $49,900 to do this work in 2020 and place 80 children in families.

Thanks for your continued support as we build to re-launch and sustain this work in 2020 and beyond. Your donations and help spreading the word about the need are greatly appreciated.

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Sierra Leonean girl in her new school uniform.
Sierra Leonean girl in her new school uniform.

Nineteen children who were orphaned during the 2014 Ebola crisis and have been living in orpanages ever since, werer recently placed with sutiable kin or in new families by Kidsave and its partner social workers in Sierra Leone.  Kidsave not only finds suitable parents, it goes deeper, to be sure the match is lasting and really gives that child the boost they need.  Our social workers persevere, monitoring the children and providing extra resources as needed to be sure the match is a success. 

Sometimes, that extra boost is as simple as an extra mattress and bedding. Sometimes it means providing a poor mother with a  microloan to be able to afford the extra food to feed one more child. Kidsave recently followed up on the last group of children placed and found that 17 of them were unable to attend school because their families could not afford school uniforms and books.  For just $300 -- or less thatn $18 each -- these could all be purchased.  One Kidsave supporter learned about the need and quickly sent in $300. She told Kidsave she felt wonderful -- enabling 17 children to go to school!  A small price for such a great investment in their future.   

Here are some photos of the kids with their supplies and in their new uniforms.

Student with new uniform and supplies
Student with new uniform and supplies
Zainab with her new uniform and school supplies.
Zainab with her new uniform and school supplies.

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Lead Trainer (r) at the end of 3 days of training.
Lead Trainer (r) at the end of 3 days of training.

How does one successfully integrate a child who, five years ago, was orphaned by Ebola, into a new family? In Sierra Leone, where Kidsave continues to do this work, we train people to observe, ask, teach and -- with kindness and love -- help these newly expanded families adjust and thrive. This month, Kidsave trained 17 caregivers over the course of three days in home management and the care of children placed in families in five communities in the Bo district.

Trainees learn how to be sure children are safe in their new community and healthy in their new home. They learn what constitutes a caring and loving home; how to ensure the children go to and stay in school; and even how to make sure they have a good reputation in the home and community.

They learn how the five basic home practices -- sanitation, nutrition, health care, education and economic security – work together to ensure healthy homes and safe children. The program’s manager, Ibrahim Kawa, notes, “The sustainability of a family is dependent on the entire household getting along and being happy,  regardless of age or gender.”

Participants also learn about community assets they can mobilize for the sustenance of the home, and they learn to identify needs. Kidsave helps meet these needs by funding this and other training, vetting families, searching out kin if they can be found and are suitable, preparing families to take in a new child, and providing microloans to help families earn a living and bed kits for a new addition to the family. The goal is to help with a child’s integration so that each child placed in a new family has a caring connection as they grow up and for the rest of their lives.

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Community reunification exercise meeting.
Community reunification exercise meeting.

After many days of diligent searching, often walking for hours to remote villages, assessing homes and then often waiting for hours for villagers to return from their farms to hold meetings, Kidsave’s Sierra Leone program reunified 12 children with their biological extended families in five communities in the Bo District in May.  Poor roads, rivers and communication are big challenges and a local boat captain was hired to transport social workers across the Sewa River to conduct communities and dialogue forums in two villages.

In the end, the villagers and the families of the children commended the social workers for their perseverance, crossing the rivers and traveling so far on foot to find families for the children. Families who were reunited with their grandsons and granddaughters assured social workers they would provide all that is needed for the children to live and grow up in the community.  Kidsave also established structures in each of the communities to monitor the children and be sure they are well cared for.

Kidsave’s social workers held community stakeholder and sensitization meeting in each of the five communities (Tailu, Bondor, Jakama, Kebbie town and Kandeh Town) to introduce the Kidsave program and children to otters. Information about the children was shared and questions from communities handled accordingly. 

Normally, the program would hold host family recruitment events to find families for children for whom no suitable family members could be found to adopt them, but this month, wonderfully, suitable family members were found for all 12 children. 

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Sierra Leonean women trained on microloans.
Sierra Leonean women trained on microloans.

In 2014, the Ebola crisis hit Sierra Leone and many families with the virus left their villages and went to regional care centers. 5,000 to 7,000 Sierra Leoneans died of the disease and thousands of newly-orphaned children were moved into orphanages. Many have remained there for years without connections to the home villages and relatives.

 While the government believes that children belong in families, it does not provide enough resources to return them to their villages, find extended family members for them to live with, or find new, loving families so these children do not grow up in institutions.

 In 2010, Kidsave began placing finding families for civil war orphans first by looking for a suitable relative. If one could not be found, Kidsave used its “family visit model” to give time for kids needing a family and prospective adoptive families to get to know each other.

 Then when Ebola struck 4 years later, Kidsave worked with the Sierra Leonean government to identify those children who were displaced and without parents and work to reconnect them with families. Kidsave helps families take in an additional child by providing small loans that enable them to build their businesses and feed and support the child or children they have added to their family.

 Kidsave has trained and supported partners in Sierra Leone and served 639 children since 2010. In 2018 alone, Kidsave helped 165 served families. In 2017, 75 Ebola orphans were reunified and today 95% are in stable relationships. Social workers visit the families regularly to help manage adjustment challenges and keep the child’s placement intact or address any problems promptly.

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Organization Information

Kidsave International

Location: Culver City, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @KidsaveRussia
Project Leader:
Bonnie Williams
Washington, DC United States

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