Methodists Caring for Children in Sierra Leone
The Specialized Ministry to Children was created after the war; it aimed at addressing the human atrocities meted to children during the eleven years of rebel war in the country. Even without the war, there are so many destitute children who need someone’s love and care as they grow up into responsible and productive citizens.
Under the Specialized Ministry for Children is the Child Rescue Centre that caters to the most vulnerable children in the communities with the provision of basic necessities of life – food, shelter, clothing, and education. The department has been responding to the broader challenges facing street children and has embarked on a number of campaigns raising the awareness of duty-bearers to respond to the growing problem.
There is a common traditional practice in Sierra Leone where parents in rural communities that are poor send their children to other relatives in the urban communities where it is expected that their children will have better opportunities through the exposure to formal education or to be engaged in other skills training or even commercial opportunities. This concept has been grossly abused as these children, known as “mehn pikin” in one of our native tongues, are used in the households as slaves. They do all the menial jobs in the house and are not properly fed, and live under deplorable conditions. They are not even sent to school or sent to learn any skills but instead find themselves as young as 8 years involved in street trading. –Olivia I. H. Fonnie, Campaign Liaison, and Director of Specialized Ministry to Children.