FORMER CHILD SOLDIER REHABILITATION PROJECT
Following Sierra Leone’s independence from Britain in 1961, the country descended into 35 years of internal conflict, which decimated key social and economic infrastructure. Intermittent bouts of civil war have been characterized by widespread use of child soldiers, kidnapping of girls and women for use as sex slaves, rape, torture, and massive human displacement.
During the war, more than 50,000 people died, while more than half the population - 2.5 million - were internally displaced. The United Nations estimates that over 416,000 Sierra Leoneans fled the fighting and sought refuge in neighboring Guinea and Liberia.
Following democratic election in May 2002, Sierra Leone embarked upon a process of peace-building and rehabilitation. Former child soldiers, rape and torture victims, and displaced peoples are slowly recovering and rebuilding their lives. Despite these recent improvements, youth in Sierra
Leone continue to struggle with scarce economic opportunities, high unemployment rates, a collapsed education system and a lack of appropriate skills training programs. In partnership with the Centre for the Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA), War Child Canada has initiated a three-component project that will contribute to the reintegration of war-affected children and youth in Sierra Leone.
War Child Canada seeks to provide particularly vulnerable children and youth with necessary life skills support, encouraging youth participation and mobilization to help them grow into productive, responsible and self-sufficient adults. The first component of our project is livelihood training. The second is food-security through animal husbandry and crop cultivation training, and the third is to address social issues most relevant for youth, such as HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and gender, and human rights, through music, dance and art. To date, our project has seen encouraging and sustainable results. 50 beekeepers were trained on beekeeping and given equipment and protective suits, and 15 of the 20 hives were colonized and harvested. Our beekeepers attended a trade fair in 2006 and won first prize!
Our food security endeavors have been well received in the community, and over 180 women have received food security training and a further 130 receiving a goat. Finally, our outreach activities have reached a large number of people in the community. 800 community members attend information sessions on HIV/AIDS, Gender Based Violence (GBV), and related issues and 3700 community members participate in social nights in each community.