In Sierra Leone 48% of children aged 5 to 14 are engaged in child labor, ranking third in the world (UNICEF 2009).
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Bo, Sierra Leone (PRWEB) September 07, 2011
The Child Rescue Centre, a program of Helping Children Worldwide, has established a partnership with Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST), a program of World Hope International to combat child trafficking and forced child labor in Sierra Leone, West Africa. FAAST works closely with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Affairs and the Child Rescue Centre works in partnership with the Sierra Leone Conference of the United Methodist Church, together these organizations will have a larger impact on child trafficking. In the entire country, no long-term shelter exists for child survivors of forced labor or trafficking.
In the 18th and 19th century, Sierra Leone was a major center for the slave trade in West Africa. In the 1820s, a population of former slaves returned to Sierra Leone and named the capital Freetown. Now, in the 21st century, in Freetown and throughout Sierra Leone, slavery and trafficking have returned, exploiting the most vulnerable – the children. In Sierra Leone 48% of children aged 5 to 14 are engaged in child labor, ranking third in the world (UNICEF 2009). Children in Sierra Leone are exploited in the worst forms of child labor, many of them in agriculture, mining, fishing, and domestic work (US Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs 2009).
Child traffickers find rural families with too many mouths to feed. They promise parents that they will take their unschooled children to the city to be educated, but instead sell or force those children into lives of servitude and suffering. In the streets of the cities, there are children everywhere. Children who should be in school are forced to sell in the streets, collect scrap metal, or break rocks at the quarries. Boys who should be playing soccer are in the mines, forced to search for diamonds for hours in the blazing heat. Girls are sold into terrible lives of child prostitution.
Sierra Leone is perpetually at the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index, ranking low in indicators such as malnutrition, infant and maternal mortality, and life expectancy.
The recently released U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 assesses efforts by 184 governments worldwide to fight sexual exploitation, forced labor, and modern-day slavery. In that report, the previous paradigm for addressing child trafficking was the “3P’s”: prosecution, protection, and prevention. The 2011 report recommends a fourth “P”: partnership. The problem of trafficking is so great that it is essential for agencies to coordinate their programs and capitalize on combined resources.
Through the Child Rescue Centre’s partnership with FAAST to implement anti-trafficking interventions in Sierra Leone the organizations will provide the help children need to be rehabilitated and reintegrate into society. Communities will be educated about identifying signs of trafficking. Efforts will be made to prevent trafficking before it starts, identifying desperate families and providing assistance before they are forced to place their children into trafficking situations.
The Child Rescue Centre’s mission is to help the most vulnerable children in Sierra Leone. Children who are victims of trafficking and forced labor are in desperate need of protection and trauma/behavioral care. The vision is to transform the existing Child Rescue Centre in Bo, Sierra Leone into a replicable and sustainable centre of excellence, designed to rescue child survivors of forced labor and trafficking, gradually restoring and reunify children to nurturing local families.
The Child Rescue Centre, which was established in 2000 during the brutal 10 year civil war in Sierra Leone, has become a nationally recognized model for bringing up at-risk children to become leaders. The CRC has a long-standing partnership with the Sierra Leone Conference of the United Methodist Church. Today the CRC provides safety and hope to nearly 300 children who have been rescued from desperate situations.
The CRC provides children with nutritious meals, clothing, education, healthcare, and a safe, nurturing environment. CRC children are trained to become strong leaders in their homes, communities, and in their country. The CRC consists of a residential program, foster care, a child support program which helps children and families in the wider community, and a post secondary scholarship program.
The Child Rescue Centre is a program of Helping Children Worldwide, an umbrella organization that capitalizes on the power of partnerships to holistically address the needs of vulnerable children in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and in Herndon, Virginia.