Life has been extraordinarily difficult for children living in Sierra Leone. An 11-year civil war, Ebola outbreak and poor quality of education have severely impacted children across the country. However, despite the hardship that children in the country have faced over the past 20 years, charities are working to improve education and health care for children in Sierra Leone.
4 Charities Aiding Children in Sierra Leone
- Save the Children. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Save the Children provides children with education and health support in more than 100 countries. Since 1999, it has worked in Sierra Leone to improve the health, education and protection of children in the country. In terms of learning, the organization provides children with educational tools and facilities to set them up for future employment. The children’s rights charity focuses on increasing school attendance and retention. Due to widespread poverty, Sierra Leone suffers from very low school attendance rates with a UNICEF statistic illustrating that only 22% of students complete upper secondary school. Absence from school prevents children from gaining employable skills that allow for an economically independent future. Save the Children puts focus on aiding the most marginalized children, such as those living in slums or in kinship care, to improve their future prospects and avoid contributing to already high unemployment and illiteracy rates.
- Sierra Leone War Trust for Children. Throughout Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war, many children experienced both physical and mental trauma. The Sierra Leone War Trust For Children is a trust that promotes “education, health, rehabilitation and self-sufficiency” among children impacted by the nation’s history of violence so that they can live economically independent and prosperous lives as adults. The trust not only focuses on the harms of the civil war; it also aids children suffering from more recent issues in the country such as the Ebola outbreak of 2014. Ebola orphans have received school supplies from the trust’s projects to improve education and ensure future employability. The Sierra Leone War Trust For Children has aided 5,000 impoverished children in the country and has raised more than $1 million through donations.
- Lilomi. Lilomi is a children’s charity based in the U.K. that ensures better health care and educational facilities/resources for children in Sierra Leone. It works at the Jonathan’s Child Care school and orphanage in the city of Bo providing safe sanitary spaces and higher-quality school equipment, among other efforts. Inadequate access to hygiene and sanitation facilities remains a prevalent issue in Sierra Leone. The Lilomi team built a new set of hygienic toilet blocks in the school/orphanage in 2021 with the aim of protecting children against preventable illnesses. Schools across Sierra Leone are severely underequipped making it difficult for educational facilities to teach practical skills. In order to prevent this from limiting the horizons of children in Bo, in 2019, Lilomi provided the school/orphanage with funds for science equipment, now expanding the scope of learning in science and mathematics. Following this success, the charity has made plans to go one step further and build a science lab for the school.
- SOS Children’s Villages. SOS Children’s Villages is a nonprofit organization that has delivered support for children and young adults in Sierra Leone since 1974. The nonprofit organization provides children lacking parental care with a safe home. As a result of the civil war ending in 2002, a third of Sierra Leone became internally displaced and many children lost their families. SOS Children’s Villages helps children to find lost relatives so they can grow up with their families. In the case where a child has no relatives, the organization provides an SOS parent who supports them through difficult periods of adjustment. The organization also runs community schools and kindergartens that have given 3,000 children access to education.
Children-focused charities in Sierra Leone have made monumental efforts in combating the consequences of civil war, Ebola and widespread poverty. By prioritizing the safety of children across the country, charitable organizations can ensure a future generation of healthy and prosperous adults.
– Freddie Trevanion