Women in the courtyard of a female correctional
In Sierra Leone, children who are on trial are incarcerated in ‘remand homes.’ As juveniles, they cannot be incarcerated in the adult correctional centres. These children remain in the remand homes for the duration of their court case - sometimes for many years.
For children detained in the remand home they are not only deprived of their liberty, they are often deprived of an education. These years without access to education, coupled stigma of incarceration, can prove to be too big a gap in their learning to be bridged when starting a life beyond detention.
AdvocAid is fortunate to have generous support from a range of volunteers. One such volunteer is a teacher who has been visiting the remand home on a weekly basis for several months to provide tailored classes to two girls in the remand home, Mariatu* and Tenneh*. This teacher has been helping them improve with their writing, reading and comprehension, as well as basic maths. These are critical skills, as both Mariatu and Tenneh had ambitions to sit their Basic Examination Certificate (BEC). AdvocAid was able to pay the fees required and buy the uniforms needed to sit the exam, as well as buy books and supplies for their learning, with thanks to the generous donations received through Global Giving. In addition to the fantastic support from our volunteer teacher, AdvocAid was also able to pay for a teacher to provide a few weeks of exam preparation lessons.
Passing the exam means that Mariatu and Tenneh could then apply for senior secondary school and continue their education. They’re currently awaiting their results with keen anticipation. Our social worker Fatmata visits Mariatu and Tenneh at the remand home regularly and talks about their ambitions: ‘Both are so passionate, so hard-working. You know, they both have such plans. Tenneh dreams of becoming a counsellor. She wants to tell others, girls of her age, that there is always a way out. And Mariatu, she wants to become a lawyer. She told me that every time she goes for a hearing at court she sees how many people are left without a lawyer, without any hope or information about their cases. They both want to make a difference once they get out.’
All stages of imprisonment can have an impact on post-prison reintegration. Providing legal aid and social welfare support, including psycho-social support, during incarceration is a step to helping women and girls leave prison with brighter prospects. behalf of the people we work with, thank you for your generous donations, that allow us to keep up each pillar of our work.
Mariatu was released on bail in August 2019, after taking her BEC exam. She was in the remand home for several years whilst on trial.
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