Christmas is just round the corner and this means we are coming to the end of another year. We want to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for your relentless and untiring support, financially, morally or otherwise for the SOS Children’s Village, Freetown. We would like to inform you about all activities undertaken during the year by the children, mothers and staff of the SOS Children’s Village, Freetown, Sierra Leone and its affiliated projects.
SOS Children's Village Freetown
The SOS Children’s Village for the reporting period has 136 children, 66 boys and 70 girls. 7 youths were transferred to the SOS Youth hostel after a transition programme. School placement for the children in the village is as follows: Pre-school 3, Nursery 15, Primary 91, Junior Secondary School 25 and Senior Secondary School 2. The academic performance of the children continues to be high with an overall pass rate of 89% and 11% failures at the end of 2008/2009 academic year. A total of 22 children that attempted external examinations the National Primary School Examination (NPSE) and Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) passed with flying colours with an SOS girl scoring 355, the second highest score in her school, the SOS International School, Freetown.
The combined efforts of the village administration and co-workers in implementing activities as programmed, have led to a huge success. Programmes are planned quarterly in line with the needs of the children and are periodically reviewed, depending on the challenges faced. The Administration and co-workers in the village share information and standardized monitoring and evaluation procedures are put in place like the Children’s Village Manual evaluation’ which was done in June to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the standards and improve on the latter.
Sensitization at all levels with children, mothers and other co-workers on child protection issues continues to receive top priority in all our operations. Children play a pivotal role in decision making especially those affecting their lives and as such, planned trainings of co-workers and children on child protection procedures are underway. Presently, three SOS mothers from the SOS Children’s Village Freetown are in The Gambia for two months 'Mother Profession training programme'.
Partners and friends of the village continue to build on existing and new relationships, in a bid to strengthen our working relationships and open up opportunities wherein planned programmes and activities are discussed. This has led to building common approaches to child related issues and possible areas of support and intervention. Social activities take a high point in the lives of the children. An exchange visit to Makeni, in the Northern Province for a week, where the children went sight seeing, mountain climbing etc. climaxed and wrapped up the end of the school year. Priorities and activities will continue to focus on the needs of the children to support their development that is
- Educational support - extra lessons to maintain standards.
- More social activities like outings, visitations, birthday celebrations.
- Community interactions: - children are involved with community, social activities e.g. choristers, page boys & flower girls for weddings, boy/girl of the year in Churches’ Sunday schools.
As the year is drawing fast to an end, there are plans for outings, parties, church services, exchange of gifts and cooking of special traditional dishes.
A little story for you: 'The day I was elected 'Head Boy' of my school changed my social life!'
Hassan, now 14 years old, was introverted when he was admitted into the SOS Children’s Village Freetown in 2003. But today his story is different.
‘When I came to the Children’s Village I stayed away from people because I was not use to the Children’s Village set up. I was always in my room reading. I only come out of my room to join my brothers and sisters to help in the cleaning of the house’, states Hassan.
During the 2008/2009 academic school year, Hassan was elected as 'Head Boy' of his school. He realised that he could only succeed in his new role if he interacts with people and his fellow students. ‘I realised that I had to open up if I was to achieve my goals’, he affirms. Speaking on his role as 'Head Boy', Hassan explains that before the school’s morning assembly starts, he has to ensure that all the pupils are well dressed in their uniforms. He also has to make sure everyone speak English while on the school campus and ensure that the classrooms are kept clean. "I also 'punish' students who come late to school by asking them to pick the leaves from the ground, to keep our school environment clean and tidy", adds Hassan.
‘I love my position as Head boy. It has exposed me to leadership skills and it has helped me to understand people better, since I deal with students from various background and culture’, he notes. Curiously, Hassan wants to become a pastor. When asked why he wants to become a pastor, he says: ‘I want to spread the gospel of God to people and to save their lives’. Hassan goes to church every Sunday except when he is ill. At home during his free time, he organises Bible lessons for his brothers and sisters. ‘In the Children’s Village, the children and mothers have nicknamed me 'Hassan the Pastor'. But I do not mind!’ he confesses.
On his view of the SOS Children’s Village, he says all opportunities are at his disposal to be educated and learn good morals. Hassan’s SOS mother attests that he is always ready to give a helping hand when called upon. "He ensures that his younger brothers and sisters carry out their daily domestic chores before they leave for school. He goes the extra mile to help his younger brothers and sisters with their school assignments," she confirms."Today, Hassan is a good mixer. I feel proud of him and I look forward to see him continue with his leadership role," she concludes.
SOS Youth Facility Freetown
The work at the SOS Youth Hostel, Freetown, an affiliated project of the SOS Children’s Village, Freetown for the period under review has been very challenging with regards youth work and the management of the entire youth department. Six youths from the SOS Children’s Village Freetown were recently transferred into the youth facility at Malama, two girls and four boys to be added to the already existing (twenty five) 25 increasing the number to (thirty one) 31.
The youth facility has been very colorful, lively and splendid as youths were encouraged to lead roles and undertake certain social activities such as monthly counseling sessions, workshop on child rights and responsibilities, talk on personal hygiene and contagious diseases, youth confirmation ceremonies (church activities), football and volley ball games, exchange visits, excursion trips, outings visitation to friends and family members, social evenings and birthday parties. All these are meant to develop a sense of responsibility and prepare them for a fulfilling social life, in order to building a well rounded personality.
In the area of performance in school, the last terminal examination result was very good that it put the facility in a growing academic performance indicating success. One candidate took the West Africa Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination and got a University requirement. Ten took the Basic Educational Certificate Examination and passed with very good results.
During this years summer holidays, the youth department took a hand full of youths to Makeni in the Northern part of Sierra Leone for camping and for a familiarization tour in the region. The department in collaboration with FSP (Family Strengthening Programme) also organized community outreach programmes like talent exposition that included dancing singing and miming competitions, painting and drawing etc. the exercise was meant to making them use to and adjust into the community.
SOS Home for the Physically Challenged
The SOS Home for Physically Challenged continues to run smoothly within the reporting period. They continue to live in a caring environment with rights to quality food, shelter, medical and education... Most of the children/youths are doing well in their academics. Four of the children that took the national examinations were successful. Some gained admission into university whilst another two are already in Junior Secondary School at SOS International School. Few others are coping and some are beset with varying learning difficulties. However, there are concerted efforts from the teachers, aunties and the volunteer occupational therapist to add value to this category of children. Staff and children take pleasure to actively participate in activities of the home. As of now, there are twenty one (21) children in the home, eleven boys and ten (10) girls. The programme administers special care and protection to children with disabilities. It also helps ensures that children access orthopedic services so as to increase functioning and independence.
Children and youths participated in a meeting held at the home by Young Voices, an advocacy group of Leonard Cheshire International on the Rights of persons with disabilities. The main focus of the meeting was to educate children/youths on the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. Materials regarding the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were also distributed as references. Two youths attended a two-day workshop organized by Initiative for Changing Lives for Ultimate Disability Empowerment (INCLUDE) in June 2009. The workshop targeted mainly youths with disabilities who are deprived of their basic rights, having practical limitations relating to state and community resources, such as access to education, employment, information and public utilities. The youths who attended remarked that the workshop was educative and rewarding.
The children/youths also participated in a friendly football match with Freetown Cheshire Home at the SOS grounds. The Home for the Physically Challenged lost the match to Freetown Cheshire Home. Home for the Physically Challenged got 7 points while Freetown Cheshire Home had 9 points.
The programme always endeavors to work in close collaboration with other partners in order to share experiences and exchange ideas. Through this collaboration, the SOS Home for the Physically Challenged was invited to participate in a Consultative Conference on the Ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities organized by Handicap International, Sierra Leone.
The Christmas period is going to be spent in a festive mood. Some children/youths are planning to attend a Christian camp meeting whilst some have decided to do visitations to their families in town. As a family, we will organise a Christmas party at the home and have a nice evening with our invitees. The children will play games, sing Christmas Carols, tell Christmas stories and paint Christmas festivals. Our Christmas period is really going to be lovely and a never to be forgotten one.
SOS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
The SOS International School in Freetown started its 2009/2010 academic year in September with a roll of 1,050 students.
In the recent National Primary School Exams and the Basic Education Certificate Exams, the school gained third position, respectively as it is known to have a very high standard of education. In a bid to fully involve the parents and community, the school facilitated a Community Teachers Association meeting and organized an assessment test after six weeks of active teaching/learning. The management also invited parents to discuss the children’s performance and identify weaknesses and strengths of their children.
In November, the school administration will be organizing a career day during which senior personnel from all works of life will be invited to make relevant and worthwhile presentations, particularly to the senior class students of both primary and secondary sections. The pupils and students will be opportune to make a choice of subject areas after these presentations for their future.
The Physical and Health Education Unit of the school will be organizing inter-class soccer, volleyball and basketball competitions within the framework of extracurricular activities.
SOS Social Centre Goderich
The SOS Social Centre at Goderich carries out Family Strengthening Programmes in the communities of Adonkia, Gbendembu, Oba Funkia, Sherbro Town and Freetown Wide. The programme supports families and communities to develop their capacity to effectively protect and care for their vulnerable children. As of now, 183 children from 45 families benefit from the programmes support. During the period under review, the programme was able to give educational support in the form of school fees, uniform, school materials and exercise books to 80 children in primary and secondary levels. Clothing support was given to 37 children of various ages and nutritional support was given to 34 families for one hundred and seventy-nine beneficiaries (both children and adult. Over the years, the programme is slowing making an impact in the communities it operates.
Ten caregivers also received an Income Generating Activity (IGA) support start or build on their existing businesses to enable them to be self-reliant in the future and to care for their children independently.
In the same vain, over the Christmas period, we intend to organize for them a Christmas party and offer each child beneficiary a gift. The children are already all looking forward with anticipation towards the Christmas festivities.
We thank God for showering his blessings on you our sponsors, our children, mothers and staff. We join our children and mothers in wishing you a merry Christmas and a bright and successful new year 2010. Enclosed are a Christmas card and a photo.
Mrs. Fatmata M. Taylor
National Sponsorship Co-ordinator