SOS Children in Sierra Leone
Our work to help children in Sierra Leone began in Freetown in the 1970s. Sierra Leone has faced civil war and extreme poverty in its recent history and children have suffered. We try to give children in Sierra Leone who need it most the chance to live a better life, with the care of a mother and family.
With SOS Children, you can help orphaned and abandoned children in Sierra Leone by sponsoring a child:Sponsor a child in Sierra Leone
Rich in natural resources but still one of the poorest countries in Africa
Even though Sierra Leone possesses significant natural wealth, about 80% of its people live in extreme poverty. Semi-arid rural areas are most affected. Life expectancy is 48 years, one of the lowest levels in the entire world. As consistent access to food and drinking water is unavailable to many, almost half the population is severely undernourished. International donors provide a large amount of Sierra Leone’s GDP. Around 49,000 people live with the impact of HIV/AIDS, so it remains a major public health issue in the country.
Children in Sierra Leone
- Children exposed to the atrocities during the country's civil war suffer deep psychological scars. As a result of the war and other factors, approximately 320,000 children in Sierra Leone are growing up without their parents. 15,000 children have been orphaned due to AIDS.
- Many children end up being the family’s only earner at a very early age with thousands working in the country's mines carrying out difficult, physical tasks like digging in soil and gravel or shifting heavy masses of mud.
- One in four children is either moderately or severely underweight.
- Illiteracy rates are amongst the highest in the world and in total less than half of school-aged children are enrolled in education. This is partly because of a loss of schools during the civil war, due to the destructive fighting.
- Sierra Leone has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, at 123 per 1,000 live births.
- Another growing problem is child-trafficking with many children ending up as domestic slaves or forced into prostitution by their "benefactors".
Our charity work in Sierra Leone
We started our work in Sierra Leone in 1974 when the Freetown community opened on the edge of the city, on the main road leading to the sea. The village has fourteen family houses and five youth houses, as well as a transit home for youngsters who are semi-independent. There is a nursery and a school for both primary and secondary pupils (over 1,000 children), both of which are open to local children, as is the vocational training centre which specialises in printing. An SOS Social Centre provides community support with meals for all the pupils attending the SOS school.
There is a very high incidence of polio in Sierra Leone and in 1988 an SOS facility was established in the Freetown SOS Children's Village, providing specialised care and education for handicapped children with the aim of integrating them into society despite their handicaps. Most of them spend only a limited time with SOS, returning to their families who are usually not able to care for them for material reasons.
Our second SOS Children's Village in Sierra Leone opened in 1983 near the city of Bo, the country's second largest city which has over 30,000 inhabitants. It has thirteen family houses and three SOS youth houses, as well as a nursery and social centre, both of which are open to the local community. A Primary and Secondary School also provides vocational training in textiles and home economics, and meals are provided by the social centre. Alongside the village is a farm producing cereals, vegetables and fruit for use by both of the SOS Children's Villages.
During the civil war, both the SOS Children’s Villages in Sierra Leone operated community feeding programmes providing over 700 people (mostly mothers and children) with a daily meal, as well as medicines, food, clothing and emergency accommodation to refugees fleeing the fighting. To meet the longer term needs, the national government asked SOS Children to open a third Village. The third SOS Children’s Village opened in 2007 at Makeni, about 100 miles east of the capital, Freetown. Makeni had been a rebel stronghold during the civil war and much of the infrastructure had been destroyed. The new SOS Children’s Village has 12 family homes, which will give a loving family home to up to 120 orphaned and abandoned children. There is also an SOS Nursery and an SOS Primary School, which will give much needed education to the local community as well as the children of the SOS Children’s Village.
Aids Orphans in Sierra Leone
SOS Children's Village Trust Sierra Leone
Hermann Gmeiner Avenue
Postal address: P.O.B. 322
Tel: +232 77714499, +232/76/624 064
Fax: +232/ 22 272 642