Embracing Change in Sierra Leone

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Posted on 4/16/2013

The children of Sierra Leone have endured many years of hardship. A prolonged civil war that raged in the country from 1991 to 2002 claimed the lives of tens of thousands people and displaced many more, and many children across Sierra Leone were orphaned or forced to fight as child soldiers. In addition to the physical and psychological harm caused during the conflict, the war robbed many children of the chance to enjoy their youth. ChildFund has worked in Sierra Leone since 1985 and continues to help children adjust to life after the war.

A Second Chance

Children who survived the civil war sometimes need help finding direction, and many struggle with serious psychological trauma. To address this problem, ChildFund supports an initiative designed to help children transition back into society and learn valuable skills that will enable them to find work and break the cycle of poverty. The Youth Employment and Support Project (YESP) was made possible by funding from the World Bank, and the program has already proven highly successful.

Many youths have embraced the YESP initiative enthusiastically, as they recognize it is an excellent way for them to improve their employment prospects.

"I will become self-employed and be able to provide for my family once I complete the training," says Musa, a young man enrolled in YESP.

Giving Women a Voice

Although the horrors of the conflict affected thousands of families, women and young girls especially suffered. Many girls were sexually abused during the war, and even some of those fortunate enough to escape the violence remain marginalized and lack educational opportunities they need to better themselves.

To combat this problem, ChildFund works to provide emotional and psychosocial support to young women and girls affected by the war and offer them training programs to improve their skills. More than 1,000 girls have received psychological assistance, and 600 more have enrolled in income-generation programs designed to help them earn a living.

ChildFund has made great strides in helping survivors adjust to post-war life, but there is still much for us to do. Sponsoring a child in Sierra Leone is one way you can provide food, clothing and essential medical supplies to vulnerable children who need it most. Alternatively, our Gifts of Love & Hope catalog offers many ways to help communities in Sierra Leone, including water pumps for rural villages.