The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) is an umbrella Christian Organization comprised of twenty Protestant church denominations and ten para-church organizations. The Council exists to empower and work with its member bodies and communities to fulfill their ministries in obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the 2011 population estimate, Sierra Leone’s population totaled 6 million; of that number 2.3 million were 18 years old and younger. Within this population are an increased number of street children. Several local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL), are trying to address this issue by working with street children in an effort to reduce their numbers and reduce their vulnerability level. The current economic situation in the country has led to an increased level of hardship for these unfortunate street children.
The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) has identified 140 vulnerable children between the ages six to 18 years among the street children in the City of Kenema in the Eastern Region of Sierra Leone. These children are described as particularly vulnerable. Some have parents who are blind beggars, some are children of physically handicapped parents, and others are the “true street children” – those abandoned or separated from parents and relatives or whose parents have died. These children are those without recourse and resources to shape their lives and guarantee a positive future.
At present CCSL has a program in Kenema where it is providing educational assistance to seventy children. Thirty-one of these children are in the secondary school level, with the remaining 39 in the primary school level. Due to the number of street children, CCSL has decided to increase the number of street children it is presently assisting from the current number of 70 to 140 to include all of those mentioned above.
To improve the quality of life of these vulnerable children and orphans and their caregivers in Kenema, CCSL will provide educational assistance, caregiving, love, and support. They hope to provide educational support for children currently living in the street and reintegration of many of these children back into their family units. CCSL also will provide women with basic business skills and provide parents and/or caregivers with income-generating loans.
CCSL hopes these interventions will result in the following:
- Street children being reintegrated into a safe family environment
- Street children receiving assistance to go to school
- Support of families of children reintegrated into family care and into schools
- Regular monitoring of the situation of children who are re-integrated into their families
Successful implementation of this program will require collaboration, awareness-raising, participation, monitoring, evaluation, and sustainability. Parents and guardians will be encouraged to continue to keep their children in school. The government and other stakeholders will be encouraged to establish and carry out policies to keep the children out of the streets.