Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone

by AdvocAid
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Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Supporting 350 Female Detainees in Sierra Leone
Detained Mothers receiving donations
Detained Mothers receiving donations

In the last six months, the number of infants incarcerated with their mothers in the Freetown Female Correctional Centre (FFCC) has risen from three to nine. It is often in the child’s best interests to remain with their detained mother when they lack adequate alternative options. However, young children place an additional burden on the scarce resources of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service often leaving mothers without the resources to adequately meet their needs.

During AdvocAid’s regular monitoring of the FFCC, the mothers told our Programme Officer that they needed help taking care of their children. In April, AdvocAid delivered welfare packages specifically for the needs of these mothers. In addition to soap, detergent, and other toiletries, we provided the mothers with re-usable nappies for their children. The women were particularly grateful for the nappies. Single-use nappies would leave them dependent on regular donations from outside the Correctional Centre, but with re-usable nappies the women were able to look after their children independently.

Regular monitoring of detention facilities means that AdvocAid can respond to the individual needs of women and girls in detention. Our Social Work Volunteer has been visiting Aminata*, a 15-year-old girl serving her sentence in the ‘Approved School’, a detention centre for juvenile convicts. She would be in the third year of Junior Secondary School, and is due to sit her Basic Education Certificate Examinations in June this year. However, her detention has interrupted her education. Her most pressing need was for text books to enable her to prepare for two exams in Religious and Moral Education and Home Economics. AdvocAid was able to provide these resources so that Aminata could continue her studies and will be able to sit her exams in June.

We can only support the rights of women and girls in detention with your support. Thanks to you, our donors, we can help mothers and infants to live with dignity in detention and ensure that girls like Aminata can still receive an education while serving a sentence. These activities make prison a less traumatic experience and enable reintegration upon release.  

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 *Names have been changed to protect the individuals’ identities

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The female inmates waiting for their packages
The female inmates waiting for their packages

The end of the year often marks a time of celebration and relaxation with loved ones. Unfortunately, however, for the women in Freetown’s Female Correctional Centre, this is not possible. At AdvocAid, we believe the festive period is about giving and about sharing, so it was important to us that the inmates, despite being away from their families and confined to the, often undignified, conditions of the correctional centre, received Christmas gifts and were able to celebrate together.

This is why, in mid-December, AdvocAid visited the Freetown Female Correctional Centre with festive packages for the women there. We provided 123 women with donations of clothes, food, and toiletries, and clothing and nappies for their babies. It was wonderful to see the women enjoying themselves as they tried on their new dresses! The welfare packages we provide are vital in ensuring inmates’ rights are upheld, given how limited resources can be at the detention centre. One inmate thanked our Programmes Officer for the food donations, saying: “We are so grateful to be receiving these packages because the food we are given here in the morning is never enough to keep us going until the next meal. This food is a blessing.” 

Not only is providing welfare support a primary element of our mandate but, at AdvocAid, we believe that improving education is crucial to facilitating progress in the lives of the female detainees. Poor literacy levels and lack of education are key contributing factors to the ongoing marginalisation of women and girls in Sierra Leone. The UNDP Human Development Index records the population of females aged 25 and older in Sierra Leone with some secondary education at 16.8%, almost half that of males (29.7%), whilst literacy levels of female youths (aged 15-24) are a fifth below their male counterparts, at 59.3%. To help combat these figures, we are currently seeking contributions to help us provide literacy classes for the inmates at Freetown’s Female Correctional Centre. With enough books, we hope to open the centre’s first library! This will be an exciting opportunity for the women to improve their reading and writing skills, something which is vital to their empowerment and to increasing their chances of successful rehabilitation and a brighter future upon release.

We hope that you will donate to this project today so that we can continue to provide our welfare support, enhance the educational facilities available to the women at the correctional centre, and provide them with literacy classes. Help empower women in Sierra Leone today! We welcome you to share this report with your contacts and encourage them to donate to this project, or one of our other GlobalGiving projects today.

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The conditions women and girls endure whilst in detention in Sierra Leone are hard. Detention centres lack the facilities needed by the female inmates and their children. Products such as sanitary items, soap, and nappies for babies are not regularly provided. The poor access to welfare support in these centres undermines the self-worth of the inmates and denies them their dignity. At AdvocAid, we believe that everyone should have the right to proper sanitation and nutrition, and that is why we work hard to combat the poor resources and facilities at the centres in Sierra Leone. 

In October 2017, our team in Kenema visited the Female Correctional Centre to provide 18 female inmates and their children there with welfare packs. Included in these packs were essential toiletries, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, bathing soap, and laundry soap; food, including rice, beans, and onions; and clothing, from dresses, to blouses and pants, and baby outfits. It is vital that these welfare packs continue to be supplied because without them, the women and children in the centres would struggle to maintain a basic level of hygiene, self-care, and quality of life. 

As part of our goal to ensure that inmates have opportunities in their communities upon their release, AdvocAid provides its clients with skills-based training materials whilst they are in detention. We supplied the inmates with beads, scissors, and string and found that this was a great way to encourage the women to make their own jewellery, something which they continue to thoroughly enjoy. Giving the women purpose during their time in detention facilitates the opportunity for them to learn and to grow and, importantly, it enables them to feel pride in the work that they produce.

Whilst the 18 women at the Correctional Centre in Kenema can now clean, wash their clothes, eat nutritious food, and practice vocational skills, there are a total of 139 women in correctional centres across the country all of whom require welfare support. We encourage you to donate to this project so that more women nationwide have access to adequate human rights standards and so that female inmates can care for their children with dignity.

Please support AdvocAid in empowering women and girls in Sierra Leone today, by forwarding this news to your contacts and encouraging them donate to this project, or another of our Global Giving projects today.

We encourage you to sign up to our newsletter via our website, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instragram, to find out all the latest news about AdvocAid’s work.

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Donations to Bo Remand Home
Donations to Bo Remand Home

Bo is the second largest city in Sierra Leone, and home to one of only 2 juvenile remand homes in the country. The home has been in terrible condition for the last number of years, lacking in vital resources for the inmates. Mattresses are worn out, beds don’t have mosquito nets or blankets, girls and boys are not in put separate areas. Also, there is no medical unit, the home is overcrowded and the youths have to collect water from the nearby village. These, and other issues violate these juvenile’s human and children’s rights. A recent outbreak of scabies had to be managed and medicine paid for personally by a generous UN worker. Such unhygienic conditions are in contravention of the Mandela Rules for Standard Minimum Treatment of Prisoners. AdvocAid have been pushing for renovations to be made to this home for juveniles in conflict with the law for some time now, while monitoring the home and providing welfare packs to the youths detained there.

Thanks to this pressure from AdvocAid and other organisations, the Ministry of Social Welfare has just begun renovation works on the roof, have fixed the water well, painted the walls and supplied new mattresses. A site has been acquired for the construction of a new remand home in Kenema, in the Eastern province of Sierra Leone, which will help to lessen the strain on resources, and reduce overcrowding. AdvocAid has welcomed these efforts and supplemented them with a donation of educational posters, games, food items and bathing soap to the Bo home. As the inmates hung up their posters on the freshly painted walls, we spoke to some of the children to ask them how these items would benefit them. Anna*, said she is delighted to have the chance to learn again, as she misses going to school, where her favourite subject was Science. She promised to learn all the parts of the brain before AdvocAid’s next visit! Some of the other juveniles had previously told us that they were bored, because of the lack of games, or even a football. This donation has given them a new lease of life. Moe*, is particularly excited, as he was worried he was losing his touch and would not make the local football team when he is released. Now he can practice every day, and wants to organise a small 5-a-side league in the home.

Though our donation was small, everything which can contribute to keeping children active and happy while in a difficult environment, away from their families and friends, is vitally important for these future leaders of Sierra Leone.

While all this signals a very positive step forward, more needs to be done. By donating to this project, you can help us to continue to put pressure on the Ministry and other bodies to ensure that this home reaches a standard where human rights are upheld and youths in detention can await their trial with dignity.

Please spread this news widely, and encourage your contacts to donate generously to this, or one of our other GlobalGiving projects to support our work in providing education, empowerment and access to justice for women and girls in Sierra Leone

Feel free to sign up to our newsletter via our website, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to find out all the latest news about AdvocAid’s work.

*Names changed to protect the identity of our clients.

Juveniles recieve donations from AdvocAid
Juveniles recieve donations from AdvocAid
New posters and mattresses in Bo!
New posters and mattresses in Bo!
Decorating the walls with educational posters
Decorating the walls with educational posters

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Organization Information

AdvocAid

Location: Freetown, Western Region - Sierra Leone
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @advocaid
Project Leader:
Rebecca Wood
Freetown, Western Area Sierra Leone
$19,449 raised of $30,000 goal
 
304 donations
$10,551 to go
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