Finding Kids Family Connection
Since 2010, Kidsave has worked in Sierra Leone, getting more than 1,100 kids out of orphanages and into vetted families — nearly always with kin. This year, with our partner, the Foundation for Integrated Development (FID), we’ve directly helped more than 55 kids leave the orphanage and move in with families.
Gladys Tucker, a 15-year-old orphan, brought to an orphanage in 2015 after losing both parents to Ebola, was reunited with family this year. Social workers recently found she had a grandmother in the gold mining community of Baomahun who wanted to raise her newly found granddaughter.
Gladys moved in with her grandmother in May and said this to the gathered crowd of her new home village on the day of the reunion: “I feel like [I’m] daydreaming today to have finally got reunited with my only grandmother in the community I had always wished to spend the rest of my life after my education. Life without my village and family members in the orphanage was ever incomplete, as it has always brought pain and sorrow in my heart, as if there is nobody left in my family to have me home. Today, I am the happiest on earth and grateful to Kidsave and FID for supporting my life dream.”
Next Steps Toward Sustainability
Soon after the reunification, it was clear Gladys’ family needed a little more help. So Kidsave provided agricultural support in the form of groundnut and vegetable seeds and training. This rotating microloan program will enable the family to grow food quickly and repay the loan three months later after planting.
And shortly after that, Kidsave and FID returned to train Gladys’ grandmother, other families, and para-social workers on the standard of care expected. Surprisingly, interest was very high in this training, and hundreds of others showed up! “That training was very successful,” said Program Manager Ibrahim Kawa. “It taught modern practices for good parenting, appropriate family task work for children, and overall child mentorship standards.
Amara Brima, a well-digger in Baomahun, called the training “very timely and necessary.” Amara could not control his enthusiasm for this training, calling it “the missing link that has contributed to an increase in child labor and exploitation by family members and other caregivers within and outside the Baomahun community.”
Making a Larger Impact
Ibrahim noted after similar training a few months later in another district that, “Prior to Kidsave’s support in this district, it was common for adults to pay little attention to children’s emotions and interests. This negatively affects the social, mental, and healthy development of children. Strengthening the environment for children also helps prevent the exploitation of children as child laborers and reduces other forms of child abuse.”
The training continues in other parts of southeastern Sierra Leone, with the hope of getting all children connected to a caring adult before they age out of orphanages and are on their own.
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