We are St George Foundation, a charity which rescues street-children in Freetown, Sierra Leone. In 2003 after the terrible civil war had ended, our founder Philip Dean saw for himself the immense problem of up to 3,000 children living ‘feral’ on the streets of Freetown. There are terrible dangers living alone: murder, rape and robbery are regular occurrences.
The children are brought to live in our “Interim Care Centre” until they can be re-homed: i.e. return to their families, go to relatives or be fostered. Needless to say we offer them the best life we can: family atmosphere, healthy food, education, medical care and most importantly safety. Our manager in Freetown - Justina Conteh is the energetic dynamo who makes it all work; she loves the children and guides our staff to look after them to the highest standards.
Sierra Leone suffered under the Ebola epidemic from 2014 to 2015. The situation was a catastrophe and the whole country suffered. But finally they came through. As a result the organisation was awarded a special Presidential Award as one of the outstanding organisation who championed the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone.
During and after the Ebola epidemic we were also asked to look after groups of Ebola Orphans because some families had been devastated and sometimes only children had survived. All in all that amounted to about 2,500 children.
Furthermore for some years we have offered a ‘small business initiative’ to train families to run a small business and make them financially independent: for about £100 we can get someone working e.g. growing cassavas, making charcoal or being a mechanic. Often tools are not available or they simply cannot afford seed: that together with some basic-training in business and book-keeping and a family can earn a living.
Life is not easy in Sierra Leone but each healthy child, well-educated and with a Christian upbringing can develop into an adult who will contribute in their own way to the economy and community-life of the country and offer the country hope for the future.
Can you help us by making a donation today?
Case Study - Mariama - a girl at St George Foundation Interim Care Centre
Mariama is 12 years of age and was previously living with her auntie in a simple house near the ICC (Interim Care Centre). The child was referred by the local office of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs to St George Foundation for care and protection.
According to the child’s case-file; Mariama decided to run away from her auntie’s house due to the ill treatment which involved both forced street-selling and domestic work. This meant she could not attend school on a regular basis. Mariama is a promising child who had wanted to continue going to school, but the auntie does not have the patience to identify the child’s needs; she stated this during her stay at the interim care centre at Grafton.
Mariama’s father works in a diamond field in Teffeya as a labourer but finds it difficult to provide financial support to care for his children; Mariama being the eldest among them. Based on statements by the father, life became unbearable for him so he decided to send Mariama to live with her auntie in Waterloo.
The father is not working at present and is unable to provide resources to send his children to school; this has caused him to send his children to members of his extended family.
During Mariama’s stay at the Interim care centre at St George Foundation, the child was provided with food, shelter, clothing, medication and psycho-social support to de-traumatise her of the stigma of the ill treatment: after spending months in the center she was very happy when social workers were able to contact her father in Kono district, she had always wished to be taken back to her father despite the financial constraints around the family. (Mariama was able to make new friends with other young people and care-givers before her reunification).
Because of her wish to stay with her father, on the 4th September 2018, St George Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs finally decided to reunify the child because it was in her best interests. Both St George Foundation personnel and staff from the Ministry assisted with the re-unification of Mariama with her father.
During a follow up visit with Mariama at Teffeya village in Kono district, the child is quiet and very happy staying with her grandfather and her father. Mariama is presently attending the Teffeya primary school, looks very happy and very determined to finish her education despite challenges she has previously faced.
We are looking for sponsors who will aid Mariama’s and many other children’s passion to be educated. She smiles with a great sense joy and would like to thank everyone involved for helping during her reunification process.
Black Tie Dinner in Aid of St George
A Celebration of two memorable Lions tours to New Zealand
John Vearncombe Clipper Update
See below for an update video from John!
Mudslide Victim Snapshot - Abdul
Abdul is 13 years old and was attending the God’s Project Academy primary school at Regent. He was living with both parents at the above address.
Abdul deeply remembers the mudslide which took away his parents by surprise. He remembers when a sound struck like a thunder, but he was still asleep due to the down pour of rain at about 7:am. He was woken up from his sleep when his father told him to go outside the house and that something is about to happen, so he became afraid as many people were running from one point to another to protect their lives. As Abdul’s father tried to help them cross them over to the other side of the road, flood water sweep the entire family away, and Abdul was rescued from the flood water by another man who took him out to safety. He was admitted at the Connaught hospital, and was there for two weeks before he was referred us for temporary care and support. He was provided with support and psychosocial first aid treatment because of the trauma.
Abdul is now coping well with other children as his life has turned around again. He is happy and we're planning to enrol him in the coming school year, because there is a great potential in the little boy.
Mudslide Victim Snapshot - Fatama
On the 14th August, 2017 at about 7:00am in the morning Fatmata was asleep with her two children in the same house (aged 7yrs and 1yr 10 months). At around 7:30am the rain was pounding the ground furiously she was not able to go out as usual in the market, after few minutes she overheard a strange sound like a crash nearby, her children were still sleeping enjoying the beat of the rain fall that wonderful morning.
She was so terrified when the land slide occurred within two seconds, Fatmata and her entire neighbourhood were covered in mud buried underneath the earth. She was absolutely in ‘a death row’ when well-wishers arrived at the scene started digging out the debris. Fatmata said she was very lucky to be rescued by the volunteers but could not find her two beloved children in the rubble. She sustained serious injuries due to the heavy rocks coming from the hills. She was admitted at the Connaught hospital for two weeks before she was later referred to us for temporary shelter and counselling.
When Fatmata arrived she was traumatized and could not see her two children. She started crying when she saw other children playing with their brothers or sisters. She was provided with daily to help de-traumatize her from this terrible event.
Fatmata was also provided with further medication and now her life is much more stable than before. She has started interacting well with others as she slowly recovers from pains and agony of disaster.
Fatmata plan to establish a business after this trauma with the support of St George Foundation to help her regain her confidence.
Since the flooding and landslide disaster occurred on August 14th 2017 in Freetown, we have been working collaboratively with the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children Affairs and other child protection partners all referring Children and Adults at our interim care centre (ICC) at Grafton for temporary shelter while awaiting family tracing and reunification.
We're playing a leading role in protecting children and adult in need of support, following the landslide. Most of the affected children referred at the ICC have lost primary caregivers and other extended family members in the disaster. During the referral process many of the children and adults were traumatized due to the magnitude of the land slide, which was beyond any expectation. It is still a surprise to many of the victims as they recover slowly from the devastating shock. Counselling services were provided by our staff on a daily basis to de-traumatized the affected victims as they arrived daily.
Food, shelter, clothing, toiletries and medication are being provided on a daily basis though much is needed to be done based on the capacity of the number of children and adults currently residing at the ICC. Many of the adults have lost hope, because it will be difficult for some of them to start their life again, as many of them were engaged in small scale business and have lost everything.
As children do easily forget what has happen to them by playing together. This always brings them lot of joy and helps them to support each other. Many children have started asking questions as to whether they will be able to attend school again. Some of the children were the only survivors of their family left when the flood water wiped away their parents while trying to save them. Counselling is provided to all, both those who seem happy, as well as those still clearly suffering psychologically from the disaster.
Freetown Mudslide and Flooding
We've been called into action by Department of Social Welfare and UNICEF (alongside Don Boscoes and SOS Children's Centre) to get involved with the emergency relief effort following the mudslide and extensive flooding to Freetown.
There are a huge number of children separated from their families, so the three organisations will work to register them and provide immediate care. We also being asked to provide counselling services.
We are aiming to prepare 50 beds on but do not have the funds to support this many children. We have requested assistance from UNICEF and others, but anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated - please click donate now button for ways to help
All our children and staff are OK, and we are not aware of any children being affected that have previously stayed with us. The hillside above the centre has suffered considerable deforestation and unofficial development recently and as a result a large number of rocks slid down the hill and crashed into our water reservoir. Damage to the reservoir and pipework means we currently have no water supply. It is however repairable and for the moment we will have to buy in bottled water until we can fix it.
Our work and the Ebola crisis
The St George Foundation gained credibility and particular support from the public during the Ebola crisis which affected Sierra Leone and its surrounding territories in recent years (2014 to 2016).
During that extremely challenging time, the charity was identified as a great example of an organisation that had formulated action plans that worked successfully to prevent cross infection, and as a result these successes were used as case studies for other charities and NGO's to follow as they carried out their own work to fight this horrific disease.
The charity featured in a number of news pieces, one of which appears below.
The St George Foundation on BBC News at Six, 16 January 2015:
(used with permission)
Our area ‘Western Rural’ was one of the hardest hit places for Ebola cases.
Over 1 in 4 of the nation's orphans are under the care of the St George Foundation.
See more TV and radio media coverage of the St George Foundation's Ebola response.
The St George Foundation DOES NOT receive funds from national campaigns or the UK government for its vital work.
To support each child costs the charity £5/day, which includes the provision of food, shelter, medical care and enrollment at a local school. However, to continue our work we need your help.
or send cheques made payable to the 'St George Foundation' to:
St George Foundation, Haze-Lea, Hill Pound, Swanmore, Hants SO32 2UN (please write 'Ebola Crisis' on the back of the cheque).
Many thanks from all of us at the St George Foundation.
The St George Foundation wins an award from the president for outstanding support during the Ebola Crisis - check out the News page for more info.
John Vearncombe is interviewed by Julian Clegg on BBC Radio Solent Breakfast about his participation in the upcoming Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, and why he is calling on members of the public to sponsor each nautical mile of this 40,000 nautical mile global challenge for a £1/nautical mile.
We have been busy over the last few months continuing our work to help even more homeless children off the streets of Sierra Leone. However, while we have been working hard in Sierra Leone, we have also been working hard here in the UK.
Over the next few weeks, you will see the launch of our brand new St George Foundation website, as well as an increased number of news pieces and events being publicised via our social media channels Facebook / Twitter
Look out for the news, follow our social media channels, and please continue to support the work we do each day in Sierra Leone to help the hundreds of children left to fend for themselves without the care or love of their immediate family (something we all very much take for granted).
We have established a Small Business Initiative where we help families set up their own businesses in order to help support children that have been reunified with them.
Our pilot intake of 30 families (all affected by Ebola) have now been trained in basic accounting, business skills and we have a range of occupations from growing cassavas to wood & charcoal selling to mechanics.
We have selected the most vulnerable families, and are keen to extend the scheme wider after the successful pilot. It costs around £50 per family and most often than not will be for families with more than one child.
To help support our next intake please donate and let us know you want the donation to go towards the Small Business Initiative
John Vearncombe joins Round the World Race: Fundraising for St George Foundation
Swanmore local resident, John Vearncombe is due to sail from Liverpool to start a year long 40,000 nautical mile race around the world with Clipper, and he will be fundraising for the St George Foundation with each mile achieved.
Members of the public can sponsor each mile for £1, with the total of £40,000 to be donated to the charity to continue its life-saving work for the street children of Sierra Leone. To read more and to sponsor him click below:
To follow John on his journey through his blog go to John V does Clipper 17/18