AVSI in Sierra Leone
- Freetown Hq Office 5G off King Harman road, Brookefields
Freetown, Sierra Leone
- DSP/SAD Office Street Calabatown
Mayenkineh, Sierra Leone
AVSI has started to operate in Sierra Leone since the end of the ‘90ies with the local civil society organization Family Homes Movement (FHM).
Throughout the years, AVSI efforts have diversified, and we worked in different areas and in the sectors of child protection, education, youth employment and humanitarian emergencies..
To prevent vulnerable minors’ abandonment. Minors living in Sierra Leone are frequently victims of physical and psychological abuse. They often find themselves living in situations where their basic rights are not recognised and, even where these children can be removed from violent families, are in unfavourable environments and certainly not suitable for their well-being.
Since 2021, thanks to "HOME: Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone: a network to welcome and educate vulnerable minors" project funded by the Italian Commission for International Adoptions (CAI) AVSI aims to contribute to the creation of a network of public and private actors involved in pursuing child's wellbeing and in preventing abandonment.
For institutional actors. AVSI is working closely with the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs and the Ministry of Social Welfare of the Western Area Rural District to increase staff skills through the provision of technical, technological and logistics tools to carry out the activities of protection of boys and girls and the monitoring of assistance initiatives.
For foster families and alternative care services. AVSI is providing formal and informal foster families with training to strengthen their parenting skills and understanding of the importance of raising children within the family structure and local communities, as well as the negative consequences of abandonment.
In addition, a group of psychosocial workers experienced in child protection will develop and disseminate a programme of psychosocial support and counselling to the staff of 8 orphanages to improve their reception system.
Educazione di qualità
To guarantee children an access to quality education. AVSI’s mission in Sierra Leone has always been to improve the quality of the educational sector by involving teachers and parents.
Thanks to the contribution of the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, between 2013 and 2017 in collaboration with the Commission of Educational Services of the Archdiocese of Freetown (ADESC) and the Luigi Giussani Institute (LGIHE) in Uganda, we allowed 350 teachers, parents and social workers to improve their role as educators through specific seminars. We have organized extra-curricular activities for students to accompany them in the labour market.
For the most vulnerable children. From 2018 to 2021, in collaboration with FHM and Saint Mary’s Home of Charity (SMHC) thanks to the project "IMAGES: Improving management of csos in Education Sector" funded by the European Union we followed the training of teachers of 20 primary schools to rediscover their fundamental role as educators and to increase their English language teaching skills.
As part of the project, members of 15 civil society organisations involved in the educational sector were able to attend courses in accounting and planning, human resources management and teamwork, as well as a session dedicated to European design.
For the most vulnerable children. The construction and development of the Holy Family School in Mayenkineh, on the outskirts of Freetown is among AVSI's most significant work in Sierra Leone, thanks to co-financing from MAE (Italian Foreign Ministry) and private donors. Founded as a primary school, it now offers complete education cycle, from kindergarten to secondary school to over 1,500 students and it is widely recognized as one of the best schools in the country. Today we guarantee access to education to over 600 students of the HFS thanks to private donors. In the last ten years, AVSI has also supported the Holy Family School for children living in Tabai, a poor and rural village 300 km from Freetown, and the nearby villages
For early childhood. Thanks to World Bank funds, AVSI worked to improve Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) courses in teachers colleges and vocational centres, in partnership with Luigi Giussani Institute of Higher Education (LGIHE).
For people with disability. From 2007 to 2010, AVSI worked to give professional and technical capacities to people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth. Courses on tailoring, carpentry, brick production, welding and electronics were organized thanks to the contribution of the World Bank.
For dropout youth, young and teenage mothers. Drop-out rate is still high in Sierra Leone, especially for women. Thanks to the project “IMAGES: Improving MAnaGement of CSOs in Education Sector”, funded by the European Union AVSI and its partners FHM and SMHC provided vocational courses and career guidance to 195 youth and teenage mothers.
To improve job readiness of youth. Sierra Leone is a developing country with a lot of potential. Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (YEEP) implemented by Lattanzio KIBS in collaboration with AVSI and Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini, designed new vocational courses with the most important Technical and Vocational Training Centre (TVET) in the country.
In particular, 2400 youth had the opportunity to improve their skills in fish-farming and aquaculture, tourism and construction sectors. The professional figure of counsellors was established to link courses with the job market.
For child soldiers. During the civil war, AVSI and FHM's work focused on reintegrating child soldiers with the creation of an initial reception centre for them.
For orphans. In the first ten years, the focus of AVSI and FHM's work was to create reception centres for orphan children, with the involvement of families willing to welcome them into their homes.
For families and children affected by Ebola. Between 2014 and 2016, Sierra Leone had been affected by the Ebola epidemic, which left thousands of people dead or infected. AVSI’s staff immediately set to work, alongside local partner FHM, to support affected households through the distribution of necessities, campaigns to prevent Ebola's spread, educational radio programs, support for street children, orphans and families in quarantine.
Ebola-related work continued even after the end of the epidemic by assisting about 900 families, encouraging their reunification, the reception of orphans and the improvement of health, psychosocial and economic conditions in different communities.
Per le famiglie e i bambini colpiti da calamità naturali. In August 2017, another emergency rocked Sierra Leone. The Regent Hill landslide and the flooding of several slums in the capital city of Freetown required immediate action: our staff oversaw damage registration, food and non-food relief items distribution.