Since 1989, SOS Children has been empowering the rural community in Juah Town, where young girls are routinely married off and access to education is limited. Until SOS Children established a school in the town in 2000, the children there had never had the opportunity to go to shcool. Six years later, the SOS School is still the only educational centre in the area.
Despite the best efforts of the school, a sizeable portion of Juah Town's population remains illiterate. Prior to the opening of the SOS School, cultural societies were the only form of education and when the SOS School opened its doors, many caregivers were hesitant to allow their children to study at school.
Staff at the school have faced other challenges, notably an initially high-drop out rate due to the customary practice of child marriage. SOS social workers from the Family Strengthening Programme hosted workshops where villagers and their chiefs learned about the rights of the child, the importance of education and the negative impact of early marriage. Slowly but surely, the situation in Juah Town has started to improve.
Today, the drop-out rate among teenage girls as a result of early marriage has decreased from 75% to 25% - a massive step forward. Ongoing awareness-raising workshops are working towards the total eradication of this cultural practice.
The ignorance of rape
Local citizens were also ignorant to the presence of rape, especially statutory rape, within their community. Social workers from SOS Children’s Villages have been conducting workshops and anti-rape campaigns to spread the right message. Police personnel from the Women and Children Department of the Liberia National Police have assisted in these awareness campaigns. Working with the Police, SOS social workers have been offering counselling sessions to rape victims.
The rate of teenage pregnancy was extremely high due to early marriage and the prevalence of rape. With the establishment and support of SOS Children’s Villages in the area, the rate of teenage pregnancy has significantly decreased. The SOS staff have been working closely with the regional health team to encourage the use of contraception as a means of preventing early and unwanted pregnancy.
SOS hand pumps bring life to the community
Juah Town is a rural community with very limited infrastructure – the town lacked any from of proper sanitation and didn't even have a sewage system. This has had a direct impact on the health of the people. A lack of safe drinking water has caused cases of diarrhoea and cholera in the area. The local residents would drink unsafe water from the nearby creeks and rivers, which they also used to bathe and wash their clothes in.
SOS Children built hand pumps at the Juah Children’s Village to increase the source of clean water in the town. The gates are always open at SOS Children’s Villages for the local residents to access safe drinking water.
SOS Children's Villages works in 125 countries, empowering vulnerable children and enabling communities like Juah Town to flourish. Help us reach even more people and make a lasting difference. Donate to SOS Children today.