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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
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.

Links:

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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A family united in Sierra Leone
A family united in Sierra Leone

Kidsave has helped more than 400 children find families in Sierra Leone over the last nine years.  Sadly, the need is still great. After the Ebola crisis hit, children whose parents were sick with the virus were taken to care centers with their parents. The parents died from Ebola and the children were moved to orphanages, where they have remained.

Kidsave supports partners who reunify children with members of their families or extened family back in their villages. These family members are usually very poor, so Kidsave supports them with smal loans that enable them to build their businesses and feed and support their children.

No one counts the children in need but hundreds of Ebola orphans still languish in orphanages in the three communities where Kidsave works.  

The government of Sierra Leone depends on nonprofits to support moving children into families. It costs $600 to support one child in Kidsave's Sierra Leone program and Kidsave is there, working with our partners on the ground to help these kids to have a more normal life with people who will care about their future. 

Links:

A child is reunited with his aunt and family.
A child is reunited with his aunt and family.

Kidsave’s work in Sierra Leone to find families for Ebola orphans living in orphanages was hampered by heavy rain and flooding, making it hard to travel on muddy roads and find the families of these children. But Kidsave’s program in Sierra Leone has stayed the course in reunifying children with their family members.

Not only does Kidsave work to find the families of these children, and if none can be found find new families to adopt them – we also monitor their situations to be sure all is going well and make adjustments if there are any problems. Over the summer, 20 families in which Ebola orphaned children were placed were monitored.

Also, this past summer, 22 parents who received microloan support from Kidsave’s Family Strengthening Program were trained in best practices in foster care giving in the Pujehun and Bo districts.

And twelve para-social workers from four communities were also trained in several aspects of the Kidsave program. They learned how to work with children and families; how to monitor children and families; how to collect and record data of children and families; and how to collect and record microloans of families who have received loans from Kidsave.     

Links:

 

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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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